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On what grounds can a criminal conviction be appealed?

If you as a defendant lose a criminal case at trial, then your opportunities for a successful appeal become limited and time-sensitive. It is important, then, to have an attorney on your side with experience in the appellate process. Making a successful appeal involves scouring the trial record for mistakes that resulted in your conviction.

Here let's go over three common grounds for appeals: prosecutorial or police misconduct, inadequate counsel and discovery of new evidence.

Misconduct on the part of the police or the prosecution may include the following:
  • The intentional omission of evidence that might have resulted in exoneration
  • Allowing false testimony to be admitted at trial
  • Other miscarriages of justice committed by police before, during or after the arrest

Note: an appeal based on prosecutorial misconduct may still be successful even if the prosecution unknowingly or unintentionally committed misconduct.

To win an appeal based on a claim of inadequate or ineffective counsel, the following two things must be shown in conjunction:

  • The defendant's former attorney, whether at the original trial or an appellate trial, performed inadequately.
  • The lawyer's inadequate performance affected the outcome of the trial.

When new evidence is the basis of a successful appeal, the evidence typically falls into one or more of these categories:

  • Newly discovered
  • Not available at the original trial
  • Overlooked a the original trial

Note: new evidence, even DNA tests, must be properly developed and presented to win an appeal. This often leads to the dismissal of the case and the freeing of the defendant.

At Sindel, Sindel & Noble, P.C., we represent clients in appeals in Missouri, Illinois and in federal courts throughout the United States. To learn more about our legal practice, please visit our appeals overview. 

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