When a jury enters a courtroom to deliver a verdict, there is a palpable tension in the air that is indescribable. Everyone is watching intently to catch some indication of their verdict, a nod or a smile, anything that gives some insight into the jury’s decision. For the defendant, these few brief seconds are a purgatory that seems to take forever. When the verdict is “guilty” the defendant feels shock, disbelief, and eventually, confusion. Whether you are facing jail time, probation or other punishments, there is little doubt that your life will change significantly.
Not every guilty verdict is final, however, and certainly not every guilty verdict is correct. Criminal trials are complicated, nuanced, and fast. Testimony may have been mistakenly allowed into evidence. New evidence may be discovered after the trial. A judge may have made a mistake or even your attorney may have made a mistake. If you think that any of these circumstances may apply to a trial involving you or a loved one, you need an experienced Massachusetts criminal appeals attorney who can navigate the complex and intricate appeals process, accurately analyzing the issues and skillfully writing an appellate brief that summarizes your case and the law. The KJC Law Firm Worcester and Boston criminal appeals attorneys are skilled, trained, and tenacious advocates with a proven records in state and federal courts.
Here are some questions our clients often have about appeals:
- What is an appeal?
An appeal is a request to a higher court to review the decision or sentence of a lower court. An appeal is initiated by the filing of a notice of appeal. You have only 30 days to appeal your conviction or sentence, so time is of the essence if you intend to file an appeal.
- What happens after the filing of the notice of appeal?
After the filing of the notice of appeal, your attorney will file a document called a “brief” that sets out all of the errors that caused the jury to find you guilty in error. The brief will include a detailed summary of the facts and skilled arguments made by your attorney that are supported by extensive research into the law, including constitutional laws. In state court convictions, the Massachusetts Appeals Court, or in first degree murder convictions, the Supreme Judicial Court, will review the brief prepared by your attorney, and it will review the brief prepared by the prosecution in response, along with the trial transcript and other documents relevant to your claims. Your attorney can request oral argument on the appeal, and the court frequently allows it. The oral arguments have short time limits. Thus, the arguments must be well thought out and flawlessly executed. Your attorney must also be prepared to answer questions on the spot. Sometimes, the court does not want to hear the prepared argument, but instead has questions about specific issues. This is a job to be performed by skilled advocates.
- What are some common grounds for an appeal?
- Errors of law made before the trial, such as the denial of motions to suppress evidence or motions to suppress confessions;
- Errors of law during the trial, such as denying objections made to certain evidence and/or to the testimony of certain witnesses;
- An unconstitutionally harsh sentence or a sentence that is not in conformity with that which was agreed upon during a plea bargain;
- The jury considering evidence it is not allowed to consider;
- A juror having been allowed to serve on a jury despite having certain biases or prejudices;
- A juror doing independent research on a defendant, police officer, or lawyer in the case;
- Incorrect jury instructions; and
- Insufficient evidence to support your conviction.
If you or someone you know is serving a sentence that you think may be based on legal errors, you should contact the attorneys at KJC Law Firm today to discuss your case. The appellate lawyers at KJC Law Firm have more than 125 years of experience litigating major cases. We have the resources to investigate and prepare your appeal. KJC Law Firm represents people from communities across Massachusetts, including the Greater Boston area, Cambridge, MetroWest, Worcester, Springfield, Cape Cod, Fall River and Lowell.