Wrongful convictions occur far more often than most of the public realizes. A study conducted by the University of Michigan Law School found that 149 people were later cleared for crimes they did not commit in 2015. This number has risen annually, sharply up from the 61 cleared cases in 2005. As these alarming statistics show, the truth sadly does not always prevail in a criminal trial. If you are wrongfully convicted of a crime in state court, whether due to actual innocence or mistakes made during the trial, you can appeal the conviction. Appeals are highly complex and require a strong showing of evidence to overturn the conviction.
Direct Appeals In New York
Immediately following your felony conviction, you have the option to file a direct appeal of your New York State court conviction. Your attorney will need to timely file a notice of appeal and serve the notice on the appropriate parties in order to preserve your right to an appeal. In a direct appeal, the appellate court will review just the issues on the record. The record will include all evidence and arguments made in the trial court. For instance, if your attorney objected to the introduction of certain evidence during the trial, you can then on appeal argue the issue preserved during trial.
The New York appellate division will handle all felony appeals and some misdemeanor appeals. It consists of four departments, located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Albany, and Rochester. Every defendant convicted of a state felony charge will have an automatic right to appeal to the intermediate appellate court.
For an appeal to succeed, you must demonstrate that a substantial and material error was made during the trial. It is not enough to allege a mere error; rather, that error must significantly infringe your legal rights and have an influence on the guilty verdict. Often, evidentiary rulings will be closely examined on appeal. If the trial court let in evidence that was prejudicial and not relevant, this could form the grounds for a successful appeal.
At times, you will want to appeal your decision based on something not found in the record. For example, perhaps you learned after the trial of the existence of favorable evidence that was never disclosed to you. In this scenario, you will need to file a 440 Motion, which is a collateral proceeding that the trial judge must grant. If denied by the trial judge, you can appeal this ruling.
The appeals process is complicated and you will require the assistance of a criminal defense firm with experience in this unique legal realm. Contact a criminal defense appeals attorney as soon as possible after your conviction to start protecting your legal rights.