Many trials end in a criminal conviction, and defendants are penalized, often with lengthy prison terms. However, a conviction is not the end of your case. You may still file an appeal in the hopes of getting a second shot at a trial.
Criminal defendants, barring exceptional circumstances, have a right to file a criminal appeal. An appeal takes your case to a higher court for review. There, the appellate court examines the record of your case and checks for certain legal errors. If any errors are found, the court may grant a new trial to correct the errors. Your second trial may reach a different, more favorable outcome than your first. To take advantage of this opportunity, you will need an experienced criminal appeals attorney.
Our New Jersey criminal appeals lawyers can help you file an appeal and fight for a second chance. For a free case evaluation with the New Jersey criminal appeals lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, call today at (609) 616-4956.
Reasons to File an Appeal After a Criminal Verdict in New Jersey
If you have been recently convicted of a crime in New Jersey and believe the verdict was unjust, you can begin the appeals process. Filing an appeal gives can individuals convicted of a crime the chance at a second trial.
Being convicted of a crime in New Jersey can have damaging effects. If throughout a trial, there were issues with the legal process, or if a defendant believes the verdict to be unfair, they can file an appeal. This process can be overwhelming, as it often requires defendants to relive the events that lead to their conviction.
That being said, an experienced New Jersey criminal appeals lawyer can help you as soon as you have received a guilty verdict. Our attorneys believe that all individuals have the right to appeal a conviction and in the hopes of eventually clearing their name of wrongdoing in a second trial. If you are dissatisfied with the results of your criminal trial and want justice for yourself, filing an appeal is your right in New Jersey.
When You Should File an Appeal for a Criminal Verdict in New Jersey
After receiving a guilty verdict in a criminal trial, a New Jersey defendant may feel defeated. While such emotions are understandable, our New Jersey criminal appeals lawyers will immediately begin efforts to appeal and overturn your conviction.
The work to file an appeal generally happens immediately after a criminal trial has been completed. Our attorneys will comb through each misstep or issue on behalf of the court to show that you are not guilty of your convicted crimes.
Generally, convicted defendants have 45 days to file an appeal after a criminal verdict. That timeline shortens to 20 days if the original trial as held in a New Jersey municipal court. If you were found guilty of a federal crime in New Jersey, you and your attorney would have two weeks to file a notice of appeal.
In certain circumstances, these deadlines can be extended. That being said, they are relatively strict. Because of this, it is important to begin preparing your appeal right away. The longer you wait to file an appeal in New Jersey, the higher the risk of not clearing your name in a second trial becomes.
Filing an Appeal in New Jersey
Filing an appeal after a criminal conviction in New Jersey can be complicated. To do so properly, convicted defendants should hire an attorney to know which steps to take.
Efficiency is key when filing an appeal in New Jersey. There is often a strict timeline to do so, so quickly acting is crucial. When filing an appeal after a guilty verdict, it is important to choose the correct approach. Generally, there are three types of appeals in New Jersey: direct, indirect, and interlocutory.
A direct appeal occurs when a defendant wishes for their case to be reviewed in its entirety. An indirect appeal, which includes collateral and petitions for Post-Conviction Relief (PCR), differs. For example, a defendant may choose to pursue PCR if their initial direct appeal was unsuccessful. Finally, there are interlocutory appeals, which often occur when a trial is ongoing. The fact that various types of appeals exist allows New Jersey defendants to protect their rights in multiple ways, during a trial, and after a conviction.
The process of filing an appeal is not as simple as submitting a notice to appeal. It is a complicated, lengthy process that requires help from an experienced New Jersey criminal appeals attorney. Depending on the type of appeal you file, it could be months before appellate judges conclude.
Filing Direct Appeals After Guilty Verdicts in New Jersey
One of the most common types of criminal appeals is a direct appeal. A direct happens relatively quickly after the court’s final judgment has been officially entered. According to Rule 2:4 of the New Jersey Courts, a defendant has 45 days from the date of final judgment to file a petition for a direct appeal. If you miss this deadline, your appeal might be considered waived, and you could be barred from bringing your appeal.
A direct appeal requires an appealable judgment or order. Informal decisions or opinions, such as those that are oral or otherwise not part of a final judgment, may not be appealed. Convictions are always handed down as part of a final order, so defendants almost always have the right to appeal in criminal cases. A criminal defendant cannot usually appeal if the conviction was entered with their consent. Many cases do not end in guilty verdicts but in plea agreements where defendants plead guilty. Such judgments are not appealable, barring exceptional circumstances.
Direct appeals may cover a wide variety of appealable issues. Essentially anything that happened during your trial, and even during your pre-trial phase, may be appealed. However, only issues preserved for appeal may be appealed. Preserving an issue for appeal is often done by objecting during your trial. However, things like unsuccessful motions are also preserved for appeal.
On direct appeal, the appellate court is looking for legal errors. No facts or evidence are heard on appeal. The court will instead review your trial record to identify the legal errors you claimed when you filed your petition. Remember, if you do not address a particular legal error in your petition, the appeals court will not look into it.
The appeals process can be very long and complicated, especially for convicted defendants who might be feeling exhausted and downtrodden from their trial. Our New Jersey criminal appeals lawyers can help you file a timely appeal.
Filing Collateral Appeals and Post-Conviction Relief Petitions in New Jersey
If you waive your right to a direct appeal or are unsuccessful on a direct appeal, you may have the option to file a collateral appeal. A collateral appeal does not attack the judgment directly but instead attacks the circumstances surrounding the case and final judgment. Many criminal defendants seeking to file a collateral appeal file a petition for Post-Conviction Relief.
PCR appeals are different from direct appeals in a number of ways. They come with their own unique drawbacks and advantages. First, the time for filing a PCR petition is much longer than for direct appeals. According to Rule 3:22-12 of the New Jersey Courts, criminal defendants have 5 years from the date of entry of final judgment to file a PCR petition.
While petitioners have far more time to file their appeals, their grounds for appeal are more limited. A petitioner may claim the following arguments in their PCR petition:
- The defendant was substantially denied due process.
- The court that issued the final judgment lacked proper jurisdiction over the defendant.
- The sentence imposed upon the petitioner was excessive or otherwise unlawful.
- Collateral attacks related to habeas corpus.
- The petitioner suffered from ineffective assistance of counsel.
Perhaps the most common PCR claim is that for ineffective assistance of counsel. If you believe your attorney at your criminal trial was unqualified and incompetent, and their incompetence created prejudice against you, this might be an effective claim in your appeal. Contact our New Jersey criminal appeals lawyers about filing a PCR petition.
Interlocutory Appeals for Criminal Cases in New Jersey
Not every appeal will happen at the end of your trial after a conviction. While many appeals happen this way, others may take place before your trial has concluded. Certain decisions and orders may be appealed as soon as they are handed down instead of after your entire case is complete. These are known as interlocutory appeals, and the outcome of these appeals can significantly influence the outcome of your overall case.
Interlocutory orders are those that do not resolve all the issues of the case. Instead, an interlocutory order addresses only specific parts of a case. For example, an order by a judge granting a restraining order against a defendant at the beginning of a trial would be an interlocutory order. You can appeal interlocutory orders, but only with special permission from the court. Certain interlocutory orders, such as those regarding the admissibility of evidence, may be very influential in your case, and a successful appeal could turn the tides in your favor. Call our New Jersey criminal appeals attorneys for assistance with your case.
Appealing from Municipal Court in New Jersey
Not every criminal case is heard in front of a jury in district court. Instead, most lower-level offenses are heard in municipal court. The charges heard in municipal court are often minor offenses that carry little jail time. There is usually no jury for these kinds of trials. Even though these offenses – usually petty disorderly persons offenses – are considered low-stakes, you still have the right to appeal.
Appealing from a municipal court decision moves your case into district court. However, the district court does not conduct an ordinary appeal but a de novo appeal. For help filing your appeal, call our New Jersey criminal appeals attorneys.
Appeals Courts in New Jersey
In New Jersey, appellate courts are where convicted defendants appeal prior guilty verdicts in the hope of getting a second trial. Before you can retry your case and introduce new evidence, your attorney will point out errors in trial procedures or legal interpretations from the original trial during an appeal.
Appeals courts in New Jersey do not exist to retry a case in which a defendant was found guilty. Instead, the purpose of these courts is to examine specific errors throughout a trial that led to an eventual guilty verdict. For example, if your attorney believes that a judge’s interpretation of the law was incorrect, leading to your guilty verdict, that will be the basis of your appeal. Or, if there were evidentiary issues, your attorney will note that in an appeal brief.
Multiple New Jersey judges will hear your appeal. These judges will be different from the judge who presided over your original criminal trial in New Jersey. Your attorney will complete a brief outlining the reasons for your appeal. New Jersey appellate judges will hear your attorney’s legal arguments and decide based on such. Remember, these courts work differently from the criminal court your original trial was held in.
Reasons to Hire a Lawyer to File an Appeal in New Jersey
If you were recently convicted of a crime in New Jersey, you should certainly hire a lawyer to help with your appeal. Getting a second trial by identifying issues in your original one can be difficult and requires help from an experienced attorney.
The appeals process in New Jersey is quite complex. First, you must properly file a notice to appeal before the applicable deadline and pay the necessary fees. The most challenging aspect of filing an appeal, however, is having the ability to identify legal issues throughout a trial.
For example, without an attorney by your side, you may be unaware of improper legal interpretations by the original presiding judge. You may not notice evidentiary issues or errors committed by the court. Your attorney will be able to identify such problems from your trial and bring them to light in an appeal.
Filing for an appeal without a lawyer is not wise. The process in and of itself can be confusing and overwhelming for convicted defendants. Having a New Jersey criminal appeals attorney to represent your interest gives you the best chance at getting a second trial and gaining your freedom.
Call Our New Jersey Criminal Appeals Attorneys
If you have been convicted of a crime, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Our New Jersey criminal appeals lawyers can help you appeal your conviction and hopefully get a second shot at a trial. For a free case evaluation with the New Jersey criminal appeals lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, call today at (609) 616-4956.