Criminal Appeals Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
If you believe you have been wrongly convicted of a crime, you may feel hopeless. The case is completed, and now you’re expected to serve a sentence for something for which you feel you’ve been mistakenly found guilty. Is there anything else that can be done? Do you have legal options in the event of a wrongful conviction? The answer is yes. Through the criminal appeals process, you have the opportunity to have your case revisited and get another chance to obtain a more favorable outcome.
I have been working in criminal law for over two decades, first as a prosecutor and now as a criminal defense attorney. I have the insight and experience you need to appeal your conviction and pursue a different result. If you have been convicted of a crime in Nebraska, contact me — Greg Nelson Attorney at Law — to schedule a consultation. I proudly serve clients in Omaha, Sarpy County, Saunders County, Dodge County, Washington County, and all across the state of Nebraska.
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Valid Reasons To Appeal
While it’s all but certain that a vast majority of people convicted of a crime would prefer to have their cases re-tried in court, there is a differentiation between a convicted individual who is simply unhappy with the judgment against them and someone who has a valid reason to appeal a court’s decision. Below, you’ll see the more common reasons an individual may seek to appeal their conviction.
A prejudicial error (also called a “plain error”) is something that may have occurred prior to the judgment being made against you that inappropriately harmed your case. A mishandling of legal procedures, incorrect instructions given to the jury, and other errors made by lawyers or judges can result in an appellate court determining there was a prejudicial error.
No Substantial Evidence
In criminal cases, there must be enough substantial evidence to result in a guilty verdict. If the evidence submitted by the prosecution is mostly circumstantial in nature or overall fails to meet the accepted standard of substantial evidence needed to convict, an appeals court may find cause to overturn the conviction.
Common Standards of Review
If you and your attorney have determined that there are grounds for an appeal in your case, it’s helpful to understand the different types of standards an appeals court will use to make its judgment. Below are different standards of review and how they would apply to your appeal.
Abuse of Discretion Standard
Though state laws often set minimum or maximum sentencing guidelines for many crimes, judges also have a substantial amount of leeway to use their own discretion when handing down a sentence. An appeals court may review the judge’s discretion in light of the law, the crime committed, and other factors to determine if there was abuse.
Substantial Evidence Standard
Though the appellate court will not “re-try” your case or hear any new evidence, it will review the transcripts of your trial and determine if the evidence submitted meets the acceptable standard for conviction. It is important to note that even if there is an issue found with the evidence, if the appellate court determines that a reasonable fact-finder would have come to the same conclusion as the original judgment, the conviction will not be overturned.
De Novo Standard
In cases in which the appellate court believes there was enough error, it may apply a de novo review standard, which means it will be proceeding as though the lower court had never issued any judgment at all and will review the case “anew.” In such a review, the appellate court will give no deference to any previous judgment and will issue its own ruling.
Filing an Appeal
If you and your legal counsel have determined that filing an appeal is the best course of action, there is a specific appeals process that will be followed. The steps of this process include:
Filing Window: Filing the appeal is required within 30 days of the judgment.
Notice of Appeal: Provide the court that decided your case with an official notice of appeal.
Briefs: Your attorney presents your brief, detailing for the appellate court what happened at your trial and why you believe there was a wrongful judgment made against you. The party that made the judgment against you (a county or other government body that prosecuted your case) may also present its own brief to refute your argument.
Oral Arguments: Though not all appeals go through oral arguments, the court may either require them or allow your attorney or the other side to request them.
Decision: The appellate court will deliberate on the arguments presented and make its ruling. The appellate court may affirm the original judgment, reverse the conviction, or simply send the case back to the lower court to be retried.
Criminal Appeals Attorney Serving Omaha, Nebraska
A criminal conviction doesn’t necessarily have to be the end of your story. Under the right circumstances, you can seek an alternative result through the criminal appeals process. If you have been convicted of a crime in Nebraska — including Washington County, Sarpy County, Dodge County, Saunders County, or the greater Omaha area — contact me, Greg Nelson Attorney at Law, for experienced legal representation.