A criminal conviction does not have to be the last word in your case. You have the right to an appellate review. If you choose to appeal your case, it is important to act quickly. In Arkansas state courts, you must file a notice of appeal with the circuit clerk within 30 days. In federal criminal cases, you only have 14 days to file an appeal.
There are many potential grounds for appeal in a criminal case, including:
- Legal errors — The judge improperly admitted evidence, provided incorrect jury instructions or allowed insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict.
- Juror misconduct — The jurors failed to uphold their obligations by conducting unsanctioned experiments, relying on information gathered outside of the courtroom (i.e., from news reports, the Internet or social media), or communicating with witnesses or counsel.
- Ineffective assistance of counsel
— Your trial attorney made mistakes in your case, which directly lead to your conviction.
The goal of the appeal is to convince the appellate court that the trial court’s errors unfairly prejudiced the outcome. You cannot retry the case. Your attorney relies on the record of the trial proceedings (the motions, hearings and evidence) and written legal arguments (called briefs) to persuade the court that there are adequate grounds to grant your appeal.
A successful appeal may not always result in the dismissal of the charges and your release from prison. Other potential remedies secured by post-conviction relief include a new trial and modification of your sentence.