Is an appeal just a second trial?

On Behalf of | Jun 13, 2023 | Criminal appeals

Say that someone goes to court and they are convicted of committing a crime. They decide to appeal that decision. You’ll often see news reports about an appeals process when there is a high-profile criminal case taking place. Even after the case ends, the defendant will have a set amount of time to appeal it.

What this leads people to believe, in some cases, is that an individual is just asking for another trial. Maybe they believed they were not guilty but they were convicted anyway, and they are appealing to see if they can get another trial with a more favorable outcome. But is this actually what’s happening? It’s not. If you’re considering an appeal, there are some important distinctions that you’ll need to understand before moving forward.

An inaccurate result?

An appeal is not another trial, and there are specific things that you can’t do during an appeal – but that you could do during your initial trial. For instance, you can’t present new evidence. You’re not starting from square one. The evidence submitted on your behalf – and against it – will stay the same unless a limited exception to this general rule applies.

The purpose of an appeal is almost always to question whether the original trial result was inaccurate. For instance, maybe you think that the judge interpreted the law incorrectly. The facts of the case are correct, but you think this interpretation led to a conviction when you actually should have been released. You just want another judge to look at those facts and consider different ways that the law should apply.

Or, perhaps you believe that the conviction itself should stand. You’re just appealing your sentence on the grounds that you think it is too harsh. An example of this approach could come into play if the judge ignored the sentencing guidelines or applied them incorrectly. Once again, an appeal under these circumstances is not a second trial, but is, instead, a chance to secure a different sentence for the same conviction.

What steps do you need to take?

Do you believe that there has been an inaccurate result in your case? This could be a life-changing event for you. It’s very important for the court to get things right. If you are thinking about exercising your right to an appeal, be sure to seek legal guidance before committing to an approach.