The goal of every criminal defense attorney is to secure a client’s freedom. Unfortunately, there are cases that result in convictions. Depending on the circumstances, however, it may be possible to appeal the verdict. Nonetheless, an appeal is a complex process that many criminal trial attorneys are not prepared to undertake.
The Law Office of Mark J. Sacco is familiar with the rules of procedure and policy requirements in both the New York State and federal appellate courts. We have exceptional research and legal writing skills that are necessary for preparing appellate briefs and are highly adept at making persuasive oral arguments before appellate judges. Our legal team has a proven track record of pursuing successful appeals of a wide range of criminal convictions.
Elements of an Appeal
It is necessary to demonstrate that a serious or material error was made at the trial level to have grounds for an appeal. Examples include, (1) the lower court made a serious error of law, (2) the evidence did not support the verdict, or (3) lower court abused its discretion in rendering a ruling.
In short, there are four elements of the appeals process, including:
- The Notice of Appeal
- Designating the Record
- The Appellate Brief
- Oral Argument
The Notice Of Appeal
The process starts with the filing of a notice of appeal. This is a document that notifies the trial and appellate court of an intent to appeal the lower court’s verdict. It is important to note that there are strict time limits for filing an appeal in both state and federal courts. Although extensions may be granted under certain limited conditions, failing to meet these deadlines or properly draft the notice of appeal can lead to a dismissal.
Designating the Record
A criminal appeals attorney is also tasked with “designating the record”. This starts by obtaining the trial court transcripts – an official account of what transpired at the trial. The objective is to research and identify potential procedural, substantive, evidentiary or constitutional errors that the trial court may have committed. It is also necessary to file a Notice Designating the Record on Appeal with the appellate court detailing the specific points that form the basis of the appeal. These include rulings on a motion, admissibility or inadmissibility of evidence, objections sustained or overruled at trial, or findings of a jury verdict.
The Appellate Brief
Because the cornerstone of an appeal is the appellate brief, an attorney must have superior legal research and writing skills. A well thought out appellate brief will identify the trial court’s errors, and clarify relevant material facts. Ultimately, the objective is to present an argument based on the law that will persuade the appellate judges to hear the appeal and issue a favorable ruling. In other words, the appellate brief sets the table for the oral argument.
An appeal culminates with an oral argument before an appellate panel which requires an attorney to be thoroughly prepared. During this hearing, the appellate judges ask the attorney questions about issues initially raised in the appellate brief. Although some judges come to a decision after reviewing the brief, the oral argument provides an appellate attorney with an opportunity to make a final argument.
The Appellate Court’s Decision
Ultimately, the appellate court decides whether or not to grant an appeal. If the appeal is granted, the lower court’s decision may be reversed, either in whole or in part. Depending on the appellate court’s ruling, the trial court may rehear the case to deal with specific issues addressed in the appellate opinion. On the other hand, the appellate court could affirm the trial court’s ruling in which case the verdict will stand.
New York State Appellate Attorney
The Law Office of Mark J. Sacco handles all phases of criminal appeals from filing the notice of appeal to the court’s final decision. We know that a successful appeal hinges on presenting a convincing legal argument. It is also important to demonstrate how the trial court committed a substantial or material error. We will not pursue an appeal over harmless errors, or those that do not affect a defendant’s substantial legal rights.
Our legal team will thoroughly review your case to determine whether there are grounds for an appeal. Our attorneys will provide realistic advice and counsel on how to best protect your rights and freedom. Since an appeal is an expensive process, we will give you an assessment of the chances of success. Because there are strict time limits for filing an appeal, it is crucial to act quickly and call our office today to set up a free consultation. We serve Albany, Troy, Colonie, Saratoga Springs and all of New York State.