Criminal defendants must rely on many factors to ensure that they receive a fair and impartial trial. The judicial system, their attorney’s experience, the professionalism of judges and prosecutors, and the personality of the jury each play an important role. Often, procedural errors occur, judges misapply the appropriate law, or attorneys fail to provide an adequate defense, negatively impacting the outcome of the defendant’s case. When the outcome of your case is the result of a judicial mistake or procedural error, retaining our experienced Maryland criminal appeal attorney might be your best course of action.
If you or a loved one needs post-conviction legal assistance to appeal an unfavorable criminal case decision, you need our Maryland criminal appeal attorney. Our attorneys are resolute in their dedication to every defendant getting a fair and impartial trial. Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free consultation today.
Appealing Errors and Mistakes in Maryland Criminal Cases
Criminal trials are complicated affairs governed by many procedural rules. They also involve many individuals, leaving room for human mistakes to occur. Often, these errors can significantly impact a case, changing the outcome for the criminal defendant. For example, a judge might make an incorrect ruling as to a procedural matter that puts the defendant’s whole case in jeopardy.
Unfortunately, an ill-prepared attorney might also cause problems. Public defender’s offices are often overworked, understaffed, and have inexperienced attorneys, sometimes resulting in inadequate representation. If the outcome of your case was adversely affected by ineffective assistance of counsel, the experienced Maryland criminal appeals attorneys at the Law Office of Randolph Rice might be able to guide you through the complex appeals process.
Grounds for an Appeal in Maryland Criminal Cases
The fact that you lost your case and were convicted is not always enough to file an appeal. Instead, an appeal requires legal grounds for filing. Many mistakes occur in criminal trials that could justify filing an appeal.
In Maryland, the most common grounds for appealing a conviction are significant errors made by the defendant’s trial attorney. The United States Constitution’s 6th Amendment entitles every defendant the right to a lawyer – which means the assistance of effective counsel. An attorney’s serious mistakes could constitute ineffective assistance of counsel, which would be grounds for an appeal.
For example, failing to appropriately prepare for trial or failing to fully explain the legal consequences OF a plea deal to a client could be issues that justify appealing a case. Establishing that the attorney’s errors were significant and that they negatively impacted the outcome of your case could lead your conviction to be vacated and the case to be sent back for retrial.
There are other common grounds for appealing and reversing a conviction aside from ineffective assistance of counsel. By thoroughly examining the trial record, the evidence, and the transcripts from your case, our seasoned Maryland appeals lawyer will determine the grounds available for your appeal. Common grounds for appeal include procedural errors, issues with the admissibility of evidence, mistakes in jury instructions, incorrect application of the law, and illegal sentencing decisions.
Appealing Criminal Cases in Maryland
When a district court decides a case, the defendant is granted an automatic right to appeal their trial to the circuit court. Cases handled at a district court usually involve low-level misdemeanor cases and some felony cases. Cases decided at this level can automatically be appealed for retrial at the circuit court level if you are unhappy with the judge’s decision. When the appeal is granted, the evidence and facts will be presented again in a de novo appeal. This is fundamentally a new trial where any findings of fact or law by the district court are ignored.
Any appeals of a circuit court decision go to the Court of Appeals or Court of Special Appeals. Appealing a circuit court decision is significantly more challenging, and the grounds for granting an appeal are limited. The four grounds for appealing a circuit court decision are claims that the court lacked jurisdiction, that the plea was involuntary, that the sentence was illegal, and that counsel was ineffective.
There are also concrete deadlines for filing an appeal. In criminal cases, an appeal must be filed within 30 days of the date of sentencing. The appeal is also filed in the court that handed down the sentence. Therefore, if you are appealing a circuit court decision, the appeal should be filed in the circuit court and then transferred to the appropriate court.
If you are still unhappy with the decision made at the initial appeals court, you might be able to appeal the case further. The Court of Appeals is Maryland’s highest appellate court, so it is essentially the state’s supreme court. Having your case heard by the Court of Appeals is very difficult, and the court must grant an appeal before it will hear any cases.
Call Our Maryland Criminal Appeal Attorney for a Free Consultation
Unfavorable outcomes are not uncommon in criminal trials. Sometimes the evidence is stacked against a defendant. However, the adverse result might come from procedural errors or an ineffective attorney. If you or a loved one was convicted and needs help from a Maryland criminal appeals attorney, contact Rice, Murtha & Psoras today. Call (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free consultation.