With all due respect to the trial courts of Maryland, sometimes they just get it wrong. A judge may misinterpret the law or apply it incorrectly. Or a court ruling may involve an abuse of discretion or include a finding of fact that is clearly erroneous. Regardless of the reason, when a lower court makes a mistake, it is necessary to file an appeal to protect the rights of the parties involved.
In order for an appeal to succeed, it is best to work with a dedicated Maryland appeals lawyer. A criminal defense attorney with experience handling proceedings at the appellate level could devise the best strategy to overturn your conviction, obtain a new trial, or achieve another positive outcome.
There are several different types of appeals in which someone might be interested. They include a de novo appeal, appellate level court rulings, and reconsidering a sentence. A skilled attorney in Maryland could make sure that someone chooses the right way to go about their appeal.
The procedures involved in appealing a criminal decision will vary somewhat depending on the court that issued the decision. If the case was heard in District Court, the person seeking the appeal may have the case re-tried from the beginning in the Circuit Court. This is known as a ‘de novo’ appeal.
The evidence and arguments will be presented all over again, and the court is not bound to accept any of the findings of the lower court. It is even possible to have a guilty plea appealed to circuit court. A de novo appeal differs from most other types of appeals.
If someone is unhappy with the verdict of a Circuit Court ruling, they may appeal to the Court of Special Appeals. However, the court will not listen to new evidence but will base its determination on the findings of fact from the Circuit Court, after reviewing the record, transcripts and exhibits.
If the Court of Special Appeals finds a harmful error in the lower court’s ruling, the Court may issue relief, including sending the case back for a new trial. If the outcome at the Court of Special Appeals is not successful, it is possible to appeal a case to the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. However, this court usually only agrees to hear limited cases of special importance to the public.
Two additional limited forms of appeal that may be used are the motion for reconsideration of sentence and a sentencing review by a three judge panel. On a motion for reconsideration, the party receiving a sentence asks for the judge to reconsider the sentence later, in the hopes that the sentence will be reduced. A sentencing review involves consideration of a sentence by a panel of three judges who are not bound by the trial court’s initial sentence determination.
In a trial, much of the attention is focused on determining what actually happened by reviewing evidence. In other words, the focus is on finding the facts. However, in most appeals, the focus is entirely different.
Except in a de novo appeal, appellate courts start with the factual record established in the lower court and consider whether the court made an error in applying or interpreting the law. Facts will only be considered if the lower court’s finding is considered clearly erroneous.
Unlike trial courts where attorneys conduct much of the questioning and present many of their arguments orally before the court, the case is presented primarily in writing in most appeals. Appeals attorneys in Maryland file detailed briefs explaining their reasons for arguing that the lower court’s ruling should be overturned, and then the government has the opportunity to file a brief in answer. The court may schedule oral arguments to clarify questions, but most the decision will rest on the arguments presented in writing.
Because appeals are handled differently than trials, it is important to work with a Maryland appeals lawyer with experience handling appellate level cases. A skilled appellate lawyer could evaluate the arguments from the trial to determine which provide the best grounds for overturning the opinion.
The time to file an appeal is limited, so delays could prevent the court from reconsidering your case. To learn what may be possible to achieve on appeal, call now to set up a consultation.
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