CRIMINAL APPEALS

The criminal appeal process is what happens after a person goes to trial and is found guilty by a judge or jury. If a person enters a guilty plea there is no appeal. In Mississippi anyone who is found guilty of a crime has the right to appeal. If a conviction is in Justice Court or Municipal Court then the appeal is to the County Court. If the County has no County Court then the appeal is to Circuit Court. Appeals from Justice and Municipal Court are de novo. This means that when an appeal is filed the case essentially starts over with a new trial. This is different from an appeal to the Mississippi Court of Appeals or the Mississippi Supreme Court which is only on the record.

If a person appeals from a County Court to the Circuit Court, or from the Circuit Court to the Appellate Courts, the appeal in “on the record.” During a trial a court reporter takes down what is said in Court. The documents that are introduced into Court become part of the record. Many times there are bench conferences between the Judge and lawyers outside the presence of the jury. There are also hearing outside the presence of the jury. A lawyer representing a person on trial for a crime must be very careful that the court reporter takes down and makes a record of everything. If the judge denies the introduction of evidence then the lawyer has to make sure that he puts the evidence in the record. The reason this is so important is when the case go to the Appellate Court the Appellate Court will only look at issues that are contained in the record.

An appeal from a criminal conviction is based on the record. During the trial there will usually be errors based on the introduction of evidence or the exclusion of evidence. Lawyers will be making objections and these go into the record. On appeal the lawyer for the defendant will raise legal and factual issues and argue that the conviction should be reversed for a new trial or that the evidence does not support any guilty verdict. The Appellate Court can uphold the conviction, reverse the case for a new trial or re-sentencing, or reverse and discharge the person convicted. A reverse and discharge means the conviction is void and the defendant free.

Appeals are not easy. A lawyer needs a sharp eye to catch the legal and factual issues in a record. It also requires a lawyer who likes to research and write. At Coxwell & Associates we have handled approximately 120 appeals. This is a tremendous number of appeals. The only lawyers who handle this many appeals are usually full time court appointed attorneys. Lawyers across the State call and ask us to handle appeals because of our skill in research and writing.

If you have a question about an appeal call Coxwell & Associates to discuss the matter. We have the experience in the area of appeals and can give to clear, honest advice on the appeal. For a consultation call 601-948-1600.

Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.

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