Although hearing the word guilty at your trial’s conclusion may have you panicked, it may not be the end of your criminal case. Those convicted in the state have several ways to question this determination. However, not every criminal defense attorney has the skill and experience to handle post-trial issues successfully. When facing the harsh consequences of a criminal conviction, you should consider working with a DeKalb County post-conviction relief lawyer to understand your options and seek a favorable result.
Judges, lawyers, and jurors are all human. They can make mistakes that might cost a person their freedom. Acknowledging this possibility, the state’s criminal procedure rules allow offenders to contest rulings and outcomes they believe are wrong. Common grounds for disputing trial court results include:
DeKalb County attorneys familiar with post-conviction relief could guide convicted individuals through the process of questioning trial outcomes.
Most people know they may appeal trial court decisions. However, an appeal is not the only avenue for disputing trial court proceedings. Other options include requesting a new trial and filing state or federal habeas corpus petitions.
Rather than immediately requesting an appellate review, filing a new trial motion may be a better option. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated §§ 5-5-1 through 5-5-25 empowers judges to grant new trials in specific circumstances. For example, if the judge barred the introduction of certain evidence or new information came to light post-trial, the defendant may believe their conviction is based on a defective, or incomplete, record. Without this evidence in the record, the appellate court will base its decision on an inaccurate account of the situation. Only by conducting a second trial will this information be considered by trial or appellate courts.
Defendants with undesirable trial outcomes have the right to appeal directly to the Court of Appeals. O.C.G.A. § 5-6-38(a) requires defendants to file their appeal within 30 days of the judgment against them. An appeal is a request that a higher-level court review lower-level court events for errors. It is not another opportunity to present evidence and question witnesses.
Appellate judges review written documents (briefs) submitted by the parties. In these briefs, parties describe what went wrong or right at trial and how they would like the appellate court to address any problems. Sometimes, appellate panels will request that attorneys from each side appear before them and present their cases. Based on the briefs and oral arguments, appellate judges may decide to confirm the conviction, reverse the verdict, order a new trial, or modify an excessive sentence.
If the defendant is not successful at the Court of Appeals, they may request that the Georgia Supreme Court hear their case, under O.C.G.A. § 5-6-15 and the Georgia Constitution Article VI, § VI, Part V. However, there is no guarantee that the Court will accept the case. The Supreme Court has complete discretion to accept or deny an appeal.
Although limited, defendants who are unsuccessful at the trial and appellate levels still have options. They may allege constitutional rights violations by filing habeas corpus petitions, or they may move for extraordinary relief if new evidence emerges after the conclusion of all proceedings (e.g. new technology proving the defendant’s DNA does not match the DNA found at the crime scene).
Because successfully navigating the various post-trial procedures takes a well-trained, knowledgeable appellate litigator, those accused in DeKalb County should consider retaining post-conviction relief attorneys acquainted with the system.
If you want to continue fighting for your rights but do not know what to do next, reach out to a DeKalb County post-conviction relief lawyer. Their familiarity with challenging verdicts before the Georgia Court of Appeals and Supreme Court may help smooth your way to a just result.