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Grounds for criminal appeals

If a West Virginia resident is convicted on a crime but there is evidence that court made an error during the trial, the convicted person may be eligible to seek a criminal appeal from an appellate court. However, there are certain requirements that the case must meet before an appellate court considers an appeal.

First, it must be successfully argued that the error made during the trial was a substantial error. Some errors that are made are determined to be "harmless errors" in that these errors did not affect the outcome of the case. A substantial error may provide the grounds for an appeal. These serious errors, known as plain errors, affected the defendant's rights and were not brought to the attention of the court during the trial.

A second grounds for criminal appeal includes insufficient weight of evidence. However, appeals based on grounds of insufficient evidence are rarely successful as the appellate court does not hear all of the testimony by witnesses, view the presentation of the evidence or hear both parties' opening and closing statements. As such, the only time an appellate court may agree to hear an appeal is if the weight of the evidence is egregiously insufficient to support the verdict.

There are cases where a person may be accused of crime that they did not commit. While the court does all that it can to reduce substantial errors made during a trial, they can happen and can result in a conviction. A criminal defense attorney may find a substantial error that not only violated their client's rights but also may have affected the outcome of the case. If there are grounds to file an appeal, the attorney may assist their client with the process while providing strong representation for them.

Source: Findlaw, "The Basis for a Criminal Appeal", December 04, 2014

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Law Office of P. Zachary Stewart
3169 Main Street
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