Appealing a Criminal Conviction in Arizona

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July 24, 2020
arizona criminal conviction appeals

If a defendant is found guilty of a crime in a jury trial in Arizona, they will likely wonder what their next step should be. Well, when someone receives a criminal conviction, it isn’t always the end of the story.

The law has built-in safeguards designed to protect anyone who has been wrongfully convicted of a crime.

arizona criminal conviction appeals

 

New Trial Motion

Often the first step is making a motion to the court for a new trial. The convicted defendant in Arizona has the right to request a new trial within ten days after the entering of their verdict as guilty. A judge also has the discretion to request a new trial on their motion when a defendant is found guilty and sentenced to death. In this case, the defendant must also agree to the new trial.

Reasons For Granting A New Trial

A new trial may be granted if it is established that the verdict goes against the evidence presented at trial or against the law. It may be possible to show that the ruling was significantly prejudiced against the defendant. A defendant can show they did not get a fair and impartial trial based on one of several aspects. It may be possible to establish there was misconduct on the part of the prosecutor, the jury, or even the defense.

Misconduct of the Jury

Jury misconduct can take many different forms.

*Determining the verdict by lot and not from deliberation
*Accepting some type of bribe
*Basing the verdict on evidence that was not properly presented at trial or was stricken from the record
*Being intoxicated at the time of deliberations
*Making false statements when the jury was selected
*Talking to any of the interested parties about the case prior to a verdict

Motion To Vacate Judgment

This can happen when new evidence is discovered that would have changed the outcome of the trial. It may also be determined that the verdict given violated either the law of Arizona or the United States. Under these circumstances, the defendant can file a Motion to Vacate Judgment. This type of motion is required to be filed within sixty days after the entering of a judgment. In this situation, it may also be possible to file a Motion for Modification of Sentence. This must also be filed within 60 days after a judgment is entered.

Motion to Correct Record

It is possible mistakes could be made when it comes to turning a verbal order into writing or when copying information to a docket. Should a court clerk make an honest mistake in judgment, in the verdict, or other areas of the record, as well as any mistakes that are an obvious oversight, the defendant has a right to file a motion that would correct the record. This type of motion can be brought at any time. Should this type of motion be brought after the trial and be denied, it is still possible for a defendant to appeal the motion denial, the original verdict, or both.

Appeal Process

In an appeal, the defendant will be known as an appellant. Once their appeal has been docketed, an appellant will then file a brief. This brief will explain the history of their case, including everything that occurred when the case was in the lower court. It will also explain why the decision went against the law. The State of Arizona will then file an Appellee’s Brief on felony convictions.d. This will challenge the appellant’s arguments. The appellant may be permitted to file something shorter known as a Reply Brief. Once this is done, the Court of Appeals will determine if oral arguments will be permitted. In these cases, oral arguments are often short. An appellant must include everything they want to be considered in their brief. Once the hearing takes place, no new arguments will be permitted.

Writ of Habeas Corpus

The last action someone can take who believes they’ve been mistakenly convicted of a crime is to file a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. This is often done after all other possible appeals have been exhausted. It’s a process that may challenge the legality of the defendant’s conviction, arrest, or condition of their imprisonment. If a court finds the detention of an individual by the state of Arizona is unlawful, that individual must be released.

When an appellate court reviews a case, they are only evaluating the application of the law. With an appeal, there is no jury. An attorney won’t be able to provide witnesses or any other type of evidence. The court will make its determination based on the facts disclosed during the trial. This may change if there is a factual finding that obviously goes against the weight of the evidence. Anyone attempting an appeal will need to speak with an experienced criminal attorney. They will know how to obtain the best possible results.

 

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