Appealing Your Drug Conviction
Drug crimes are some of the most aggressively prosecuted federal offenses that a person can be charged with. Convictions also tend to have especially devastating consequences for defendants, as they include lengthy prison sentences, hefty fines, and the creation of a permanent record. The latter can make it difficult for people to secure employment or find housing even after they have been released, so it is essential for those who have been convicted of a drug offense to speak with an experienced federal crime lawyer who can help them file the necessary appeals.
Common Reasons to Appeal
If a party was convicted as a result of a material error in his or her trial, that individual may be able to appeal the conviction. For example, convictions for drug-related offenses are usually based on the physical evidence and eyewitness testimony offered against a person, so if this evidence is improperly admitted by a judge and then used against a person who is later convicted, a defendant could have his or her conviction overturned. Similarly, courts are only permitted to admit evidence that has been lawfully obtained, so if a defendant can prove that his or her Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures was violated by law enforcement, the court could find enough basis to allow an appeal. Before a jury reaches a verdict, it must receive appropriate instructions from the judge on how to analyze the facts presented. If those instructions were later deemed to be incorrect, the convicted party could exercise his or her right to an appeal.
The Appeals Process
If a party has a legal basis to file an appeal, he or she must begin the appeals process by filing a notice of appeal. At this point, the appellant must then file a written argument containing the facts and legal arguments upon which he or she is seeking a reversal of the conviction. The other party, also known as the respondent, then has the opportunity to file a response. While some courts make decisions based only on written arguments, others will hear oral arguments before making a determination. In federal courts of appeals, lawyers are usually given between ten and 15 minutes to argue their clients’ case.
After hearing oral arguments, the court will determine whether the lower court made an error in the application of the law. In most cases, judges will only reverse a trial court’s decision if there was an error of law that prejudiced the rights of the defendant to a fair trial. Admitting improper evidence, for example, is usually determined to be a harmful and reversible error. If the appeal is not dismissed or denied, the appellate court will usually send the case back to the lower court and order a new trial or a modification of the trial court’s decision.
Call Today to Discuss Your Case with a Dedicated Federal Crime Lawyer
If you were convicted of a crime, you could be eligible for an appeal. To learn more about your rights to an appeal, please call experienced South Florida federal crime attorney Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. at 305-670-9919 or send us an online message.