Appellate Attorneys to Appeal Your Arizona Felony or Misdemeanor Conviction
If you have been wrongfully convicted of a crime, you are not alone. Thousands of people are convicted of crimes each year for which they should not have been found guilty. If you believe you were the subject of a wrongful conviction, the experienced criminal appeals lawyers at the Law Offices of David A. Black can help. Our attorneys are also seasoned trial lawyers who understand what to look for so that they will present all possible arguments for your appeal, and provide you with the best chance of a reversal of your conviction. Contact our office to schedule an appointment.
What is a Criminal Appeal?
An appeal is a legal argument made to a higher court – usually the Arizona Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court – to ask that a review be made of the decision of the court below – usually the trial court. In the case of a criminal appeal, the argument is generally made after a conviction, and we ask the court to review the case and reverse the conviction or modify the judgment and/or the sentence. We do this by pointing out errors that we say unfairly prejudiced the case against you, or affected the verdict or your right to a fair trial.
There are many possible mistakes made at trial that could form the basis for a successful appeal. They include, among others:
- Violations of your constitutional rights. Common violations are illegal searches and seizures, failure to advise you of your right to remain silent and/or your right to counsel, and use of illegally obtained confessions. Other possible violations include due process, double jeopardy, and your right to a speedy trial.
- Prosecutorial misconduct. While not all prosecutorial mistakes and improper behavior will sufficiently taint a conviction, some may lead to a successful appeal. If, for example, the prosecutor withholds from the defense exculpatory evidence, that is, evidence that would tend to show you are innocent of the crime charged, this will ordinarily lead to a reversal of your conviction. Other examples include making improper arguments to the jury (alleging facts that have not been presented to the jury); improperly using the media to the extent that it prejudices the case against the defendant; and introducing false evidence at trial.
- Erroneous jury instructions. The jury is obligated to listen to the facts at trial, and take those facts and apply them to the law as explained by the judge. When the judge falls short and issues instructions that do not agree with settled law, the verdict will be subject to reversal if the mistake could have pointed the jury to the wrong conclusion. In other cases, a judge may issue instructions that are confusing to the extent that the jury cannot be sure what the applicable law really is.
- Evidence mistakes. During the trial, both sides attempt to have information introduced into evidence, consisting of testimony or other evidence that one side wants the jury to see or hear. But only the judge can decide which evidence (testimony, pictures, opinions, ballistics, drugs, etc.) the jury can see. And the fact is that judges make mistakes. Sometimes judges exclude evidence that should have been admitted; other times they admit evidence that should have been excluded. In either case, depending upon the particular evidence involved, the mistake by the judge could prejudice your defense to the extent that a reversal of your conviction is appropriate.
- Improper sentence. Judges usually have some leeway when they impose a sentence on a defendant who has been found guilty of a felony or a misdemeanor. But that discretion can be abused, and if a sentence is imposed that is not appropriate for the crime, or runs afoul of the legal limits imposed by statute, the sentence can be vacated on appeal.
These are just some examples of what we look for when we review a case for appeal. All of which leads to the question of the more common reasons for wrongful convictions.
Causes of Wrongful Convictions
We could not possibly list all the causes for the conviction of someone who is innocent. There are simply too many examples. But some of the more common reasons are:
- Eyewitness misidentification.
- Coerced and false confessions.
- False testimony by police informants (snitch testimony).
- Misconduct by police and/or prosecutors.
These are just some of the ways in which innocent people are found guilty.
Phoenix Criminal Appeals Attorneys
David A. Black and William Wynn are experienced criminal defense lawyers who understand how to find errors and other issues that could lead to a dismissal, a remand, or a reduction in your sentence. If you have been convicted of a crime in Arizona, call us for a free consultation to discuss your case, and whether you might have a basis for a successful appeal.