Judges, jurors, and prosecutors are human, which means they can and do make mistakes. Admitting evidence that should have been excluded, overruling an objection that the judge should have sustained, and allowing a prosecutor to pursue an improper line of questioning are just a few of the many substantive, evidentiary, and procedural errors that can occur before and during a criminal trial. For criminal defendants, these mistakes can have catastrophic and life-altering consequences. When a conviction follows a case that involves reversible errors, a criminal appeal affords the defendant a critical opportunity to correct an injustice and overturn a manifestly improper result.
At Milios Defense, we handle criminal appeals of all kinds in state and federal courts throughout Washington. We have the insights and knowledge to determine whether an appeal is the right approach and if so, we will develop and implement the strategies most likely to yield a positive result.
Our experience with criminal appeals is extensive, and experience is crucial to success at the appellate level. Even the best trial lawyers may not completely understand the nuances of appellate practice or lack the skills needed for effective advocacy at that level. Different rules apply, and different approaches and arguments are needed to persuade appellate judges.
We craft compelling written submissions, make powerful oral arguments, respond deftly to questions from the bench, and respond forcefully to prosecutors’ assertions. These vital attributes have led to a strong record of appellate advocacy.
Whether for clients we represented at trial or for matters referred to us, we comb through every page of the trial record, identifying issues and arguments we can use to advance our clients’ positions. Our extensive and diverse work at the trial level in criminal matters complements our appellate practice and enables us to structure dexterous and forceful arguments that can give our clients the best chance of overturning an adverse result.
Possible Grounds for Appeal
An appeal is not “another bite at the apple.” It is not a forum for retrying the case or presenting new evidence. Instead, appellate judges review a criminal trial for legal errors that could have impacted the case’s outcome.
As noted, a multitude of errors can support a successful appeal of a criminal conviction. Some of the most common are:
- Improper admission of evidence – In criminal trials, illegally obtained evidence, such as money or drugs seized during an improper search, is not admissible in court. If prosecutors used improperly obtained evidence at trial, an appellant has grounds to appeal the verdict.
- Insufficient evidence – In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. An appeal may be warranted if the evidence prosecutors presented during the trial was insufficient to meet this standard.
- Sentencing errors – Judges must follow certain guidelines when sentencing a defendant after a guilty verdict and provide a basis for the sentence they hand down. If the judge did not follow proper sentencing procedures or made an error in sentencing, such mistakes can be the basis of an appeal.
- Ineffective counsel – Every criminal defendant has a constitutional right to be represented by competent and effective counsel. An appeal can be justified if a defendant can demonstrate that their attorney failed to represent them effectively and that their incompetence or lack of diligence influenced the case’s outcome.
- Prosecutorial misconduct – Overzealous prosecutors determined to obtain a conviction may cross ethical lines and engage in misconduct during the course of a case, such as withholding exculpatory evidence from the defendant’s counsel or making misrepresentations to the court. When prosecutors unfairly and wrongfully tilt the scales in their favor, a defendant can call their actions to the appellate court’s attention and seek to have their conviction overturned.
At Milios Defense, we zealously defend our clients’ constitutional rights at both the trial and appellate levels and bring fierce determination to our efforts on behalf of clients who have been wrongfully convicted. If you need assistance with a criminal appeal, please contact us at 206-207-1067 or complete our online form to arrange your free initial consultation.