No defendant ever wants to be convicted of a crime. However, a criminal conviction does not always signal the end of the legal process. Every individual who is found guilty of a crime in New Jersey has the right to dispute, or appeal, his or her conviction and resulting prison sentence.
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our knowledgeable criminal attorneys have over 45 years of combined experience representing residents of Cape May and Cape May County in the criminal appeals process. As defense lawyers handling a wide array of disorderly persons offenses and indictable crimes, including drug crimes, sex crimes, and weapons crimes, we have a nuanced understanding of what it takes to challenge the outcome of a criminal trial.
To arrange for a free and private legal consultation, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 today. We urge you to call us as soon as possible, because you will lose the ability to appeal in a matter of weeks.
How Do You Appeal a Criminal Conviction in New Jersey?
The party appealing a criminal conviction is known as the appellant. A court which hears appeals is called an appeals court, court of appeals, or appellate court. In New Jersey, criminal appeals are handled by the Appellate Division of the Superior Court at the intermediate level. The New Jersey Supreme Court is the state’s highest appellate court. The Supreme Court might hear an appeal if the case has major ramifications for public policy, or if conflicting decisions are made by the Appellate Division and a higher authority must be sought.
The criminal appellate process is exceptionally complex and involves considerable amounts of documentation and paperwork. We will present a brief summary to give appellants and their loved ones a general idea of how an appeal unfolds.
As we stated earlier, appellants are bound by restrictive deadlines. The exact deadline depends on the way the offense was classified:
Indictable Crimes — New Jersey Court Rule 2:4-1(a) gives appellants 45 days from the date of conviction to file a Notice of Appeal in superior court. Indictable crimes are equivalent to felonies (e.g. sexual assault, child pornography possession).
Disorderly Persons/DP Offenses — New Jersey Court Rule 3:23-2 gives appellants just 20 days from the date of conviction to file a Notice of Appeal in municipal court. DP offenses are equivalent to misdemeanors (e.g. simple assault, theft under $200).
The Notice of Appeal acts like an introductory overview of the case. It contains information about the parties involved in the appeal, the nature of the offense, the date of conviction, the lower court in which the case was heard, and other matters. A Case Information Statement (CIS) and request for court transcripts should be attached.
In light of the tight deadlines to which appellants are subject, anyone who is considering appealing a conviction or sentence in Cape May is urged to consult with a lawyer immediately. If you are currently unsure about the course you wish to take, it is critical to make a decision as soon as possible, before the opportunity is lost. It may be possible to obtain a time extension, but this is not guaranteed. Your attorney will handle the preparation and filing of other legal documents, such as briefs, motions, and appendices.
What Happens if I Win My Appeal?
Appellants should know that an appeal is not the same as having a new trial. The purpose of the appeal is not to try the case over again, but rather, to persuade the appeals court that the lower court made a mistake when convicting or sentencing you. Your attorney will carefully analyze the legal proceedings from your original trial to determine whether the judge made any errors, and if so, what type of error the judge made.
For instance, errors which are not significant enough to influence the outcome of a case are called harmless errors. Your attorney will sift through court transcripts and other procedural records for any harmful errors that may have impacted your case. Some examples of harmful errors could include:
Constitutional errors and violations of due process.
Structural errors, such as a prejudiced judge presiding over a case, or a biased jury selection.
Sentencing errors, such as imposing an excessive sentence, or imposing an enhanced sentence without proving the grounds for the sentence beyond a reasonable doubt.
Choosing whether to go through the appeals process can be a difficult decision after a long court case. Our attorneys will help you understand your rights and responsibilities as a potential appellant, and if you decide to appeal your matter, will be there to represent you and fight for your rights at every stage of the process. To set up a free, private legal consultation, call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956. Se habla español.