Appeals and PCRs
If you or a loved one is sitting in jail thinking about your appeal, let us help you. If you or your family member has been convicted of a crime, you may be wondering what happened. It all happened very quickly and now you are facing very important filing deadlines. Your constitutional rights may have been violated. Your attorney may have ineffectively represented you at trial or during your plea. You or your family member is now alone and confused and sitting in jail or prison.
When you or a loved one have been convicted of a crime, you have a constitutional right to appeal the case – you can challenge error committed by the trial court (the judge) and you can challenge whether you received effective representation of counsel (did your attorney do a good job). The St. Louis criminal defense attorneys at Muhlenkamp & Bernsen Attorneys at Law, LLC can help you navigate the appellate process, from direct appeal to post-conviction relief to habeas corpus relief.
We understand the criminal appeals process and use our knowledge and extensive experience to seek relief for clients who have been convicted of a crime.
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Appealing Your Case
Two of the most effective ways to challenge your conviction are the Direct Appeal and Motion for Post-Conviction Relief.
If you have been convicted after a trial and want to appeal your conviction or sentence, you need to file what is called a Direct Appeal. Your right to a direct appeal exists in every state and federal court. Most of the time, it is the first step that needs to be taken to challenge an unjust conviction or unfair sentence. Here, you are raising claims of “trial error.”
Common trial error claims include:
- Improper jury instructions – If the jury in your case received unclear instructions or were given improper instructions, then your appellate attorney can review those instructions and seek relief from the court of appeals.
- The improper admission or exclusion of evidence – The judge may exclude or admit evidence improperly during the course of a trial. Review of the trial court’s evidentiary rulings is critical. One piece of evidence can make or break a case. Don’t let improperly admitted, or excluded, evidence break you! Call today and we can discuss your options.
- Improper arguments made by the prosecution – There are times when the prosecution uses arguments that are not relevant to the case or that are designed to appeal to a judge or jury’s emotions instead of the facts at hand. Sometimes this can lead to reversible error, especially when the prosecuting attorney relies heavily on inflammatory evidence in its closing argument.
- Sufficient evidence to convict – It is important to have your case reviewed to ensure that there was enough legally admissible evidence to convict you.
There are many factors that can go into the outcome of a case, and having an effective appellate attorney on your side can help the appellate court determine if the trial court committed error. This is the first step to obtaining a new trial. From there, we will use our experience to craft an Appellant’s Brief and zealously prosecute the appeal.
If you are unsuccessful on your direct appeal, your next step is to file a Motion for Post-Conviction Relief. If you went to trial and lost, you will file what is called a Rule 29.15 Motion (if you plead guilty, it is called a Rule 24.035 Motion). You cannot raise any claims you did not raise on your direct appeal and there are very strict deadlines with which you must comply. The most common claim raised in this proceeding is Ineffective Assistance of Trial or Appellate Counsel.
In evaluating what claims to file, some questions to ask yourself are:
- Did trial counsel fail to object to inadmissible evidence?
- Did trial counsel fail to investigate the case?
- Did trial counsel fail to prepare for cross-examination?
- Did trial counsel present a viable theory of defense?
- Was trial counsel’s trial strategy “reasonable?”
- Did trial counsel discuss whether you should testify with you? If so, did they prepare you to testify?
- Did you trial counsel give you good advice?
- Did your trial counsel discuss possible outcomes with you?
- Was the counsel effective at advising their client about the strength of the state’s argument, thus advising they plead guilty?
- Was coercion, fraud, duress, or misapprehension a factor in the guilty plea?
Again, there are hard and fast deadlines that are strictly enforced by the courts. It is imperative to speak to an experienced appellate attorney immediately. Our attorneys have extensive experience with the appellate process and can review your case expeditiously in order to seek a better outcome.
When evaluating your case on appeal, we will review what happened and how you got to where you are. We will explain the appellate process to you. You will not be left wondering what is going on. Too often we hear of people who are very confused about where they are on their appeal – they are lost in the appellate system. The appellate process can be confusing. Let us help you. Let us give you a voice.
Contact our St. Louis Appellate Attorneys
We have the experience you need. We will do what we can to remedy any errors that occurred, be it in your trial, your plea, or your sentence. Call us today for a free consultation where we can help you determine what options you have.