Should I Hire a New Attorney Post-Conviction?

scales of justice and gavel - post conviction attorney concept

If you’ve been found guilty of a crime at trial, your case isn’t over — you still have the right to appeal and seek to have the conviction overturned and a new trial ordered. However, this can only be done successfully if a mistake was made that truly impacted the outcome of your case. Such cases raise the critical question of whether you should have a new post-conviction attorney, rather than continue with your trial attorney, to represent you on appeal.

When Can You Appeal a Criminal Conviction?

If a legal error was made by the trial court and it was prejudicial to the outcome of your case, grounds exist for a successful appeal. At the trial level, the judge determines issues of law while the jury serves as the factfinder in the case. In the event the judge errs in deciding an issue of law, the mistake may warrant relief on appeal. An error of law may be made at any time during the trial phase — in rulings made on both pre- and post-trial motions.

The following are just a sampling of errors that may give rise to appellate relief in a criminal case:

  • Violation of the defendant’s right to self-representation, or to the lawyer of his or her choosing.
  • Misapplication of governing law defining the elements of the crime in question.
  • Errors in admitting, or denying admission of, certain evidence at trial.
  • Errors in the jury instructions.
  • Jury misconduct, including discussing the case with non-jurors, or considering evidence beyond that presented at trial.
  • Prosecutorial misconduct, including withholding exculpatory evidence or making statements before the jury that go beyond fair comment on the evidence.
  • Harsh, excessive, or illegal sentences.
  • Insufficient evidence to support the criminal conviction.

It can be advantageous to have an appellate attorney take on your case after your trial ends (“post-conviction”). A skillful appellate lawyer can review the record in your case and identify successful avenues for appeal. Not only can the appellate attorney offer a fresh perspective and spot issues that might justify a new trial, the appellate attorney will have a deep understanding of the nuanced procedures involved with the different levels of the appellate and post-conviction process.

Why You Might Want to Hire a New Post-Conviction Attorney

With your liberty on the line, it’s crucial to ensure you are in the best possible position for a successful appeal. There are a number of reasons you might consider hiring a new post-conviction attorney for the appeal in your criminal case. Critically, an appeals lawyer is one that focuses exclusively on appellate work. This means that the attorney’s entire practice is devoted to preparing and arguing cases on appeal or post-conviction relief.

An appellate attorney will be able to view your case with a fresh perspective— and from the same perspective as the appellate judges. Having spent so much time on preparing and trying the case, a trial attorney can develop tunnel vision and be unable to look at the case objectively. Importantly, appellate work is very different from trial work and requires a very different set of skills. Appellate attorneys must possess specific knowledge regarding the special procedures that apply at the appellate level and know how to prepare an appellate brief that adheres to the formatting rules.

How Can a Post-Conviction Attorney Help?

A post-conviction attorney can help with your criminal case in several ways. First, they can evaluate your case and determine whether it should — or can — be appealed. They can also prepare a written brief and an oral argument to be heard in the appellate court and draft the required applications. A post-conviction appeals attorney will know how to emphasize the trial record in your case for the best possible results.

Additionally, a criminal appeals attorney can work alongside trial counsel throughout the litigation phase of the case. They can make sure that legal arguments are not waived by trial counsel’s failure to raise an objection and work to preserve the record for an appeal. A criminal appeals and post-conviction attorney will also know the timelines that are applicable in each case to make sure you do not forgo your chance to appeal.

Contact an Experienced Appellate Attorney

If a mistake of law was made in your criminal case at the trial level, you should appeal. It is essential that you hire the right appeal and post-conviction attorney to guide you through the process and ensure the best possible outcome in your case. The knowledgeable appellate attorneys at Hegge & Confusione, LLC know how to craft a written brief that raises the crucial errors that occurred in your case at the trial level and successfully argue these issues before the appellate court. Contact us today for an assessment of your case.