The process of a criminal appeal is a long and winding road that can take six months to a year. While all appeals are different, the process is still the same. Understanding the basic concepts of a criminal appeal will help you better understand what is happening in your case. Here are some common questions:
What is an Appeal?
A criminal appeal is basically a review of the trial to determine whether the defendant received a fair trial. An appeal focuses on the trial court’s rulings to determine if they were correct. Generally, appellate courts will not second-guess the jury verdict (meaning judge it to see if it is correct).
Who decides appeals?
In Texas, the first criminal appeal goes to one of the Courts of Appeal. There are 14 courts of appeals in Texas. Each court has at least three judges, and most have more. Appeal court judges are elected like other judges, and many times the appeal court judges have been trial judges at one time. Each appeal is decided by a panel of three judges. The courts of appeal hear both criminal appeals and civil appeals.
How do you start an appeal?
A criminal appeal is started by filing a notice of appeal. Unless, fore example, a motion for new trial is filed, this appeal notice must be filed within 30 days of the judgment and sentence. The notice is just a short statement stating that you want to appeal, what you are appealing from, and which court of appeals will hear the appeal. The notice of appeal is filed with the clerk.
Do I need to do anything other than file a notice of appeal?
The record must also be obtained. There are two parts of a record in a criminal case. One is the clerk’s record. That is a copy of all the documents filed with the court, such as the indictment, pleadings, judgment and sentence.
The second part is the reporter’s record. This a transcript prepared by the court reporter of everything said in court. It is your obligation to contact the court reporter and order the record. Court reporters charge by the page, so the longer the trial, the more expensive the record will be. Generally, plan on $500 or so per day of testimony.
What relief can be obtained?
A Court of Appeals can either reverse and remand a case, or reverse and enter a judgment of acquittal. Normally cases are remanded, which means you go back to the trial court and everything starts all over again.
Can I be released on bond?
The answer depends on the type of offense for which you were convicted and/or the length of your sentence. long your sentence is. If it is less than ten years, you may be eligible for a bond. If it is more than ten years you cannot be released on bond. In misdemeanor cases, you are always entitled to be released on bond.
There are some cases where you can never get an appeal bond. One of those is aggravated sexual assault.
The two terms are frequently interchanged; because there is a difference between homicide and murder. Homicide is the killing of one person by another. There are four different types of criminal homicide that exist within the Texas statutes, in decreasing order of severity:
Murder is among the most common of homicides committed in Texas. A murder involves intentionally or knowingly killing another person, in layman’s language.
Preparing does not have to be intricate or long. It is possible to have “planned” just seconds before a killing. In other terms, pre-meditation is not required. The only thing required is intentionally or knowingly killing someone.
A person convicted of murder is guilty of a first degree felony, which means that he or she could face a prison term of 5 – 99 years, or life in prison. There is no longer probation available for a murder convict.
Various defenses, namely self-defense or defense of others, justify or excuse murder.
Needless to say, not just any lawyer can handle a murder case. You need to hire a lawyer who is experienced and has actually tried murder cases. Now is not the time to panic and hire a cheap or inexperienced lawyer. As with anything else, you get what you pay for.
A sex crime may be defined as a sex act that is considered deviant in nature, the exchange of sexual activity for money, or a forced/non-consensual sexual act. A sex offense can have long-lasting consequences such as social solitude and sex offender registration because the particular individual cannot obtain certain professional licenses, work in particular areas, or live in the particular areas. Even some forms of consensual sex-related acts, such as in statutory rape cases, are criminalized as well.
The following factors are considered as sex offenses
Rape – This is generally defined as a forced or non-consensual sexual intercourse. This is one of the most serious sex crimes a person may be accused of committing
Sexual abuse – Improper touching, molestation and forced sexual intercourse fall under this category
Child pornography – This crime has seen more prosecutions in recent years. It is illegal to possess, create, sell, or distribute any images which involve pictures of children of a sexual nature. If these problems exist for a child then the defendant faces harsh fines, jail and a permanent place on the sex offender registry.
Child molestation – This is a sex offense in which an adult uses the child for sexual stimulation. Generally, these offenses either fall under indecency with a child (by exposure or contact) or aggravated sex assault (by actual penetration).
Prostitution – This is offering to perform a sexual act in exchange for money or another commodity. Often the agreement is ambiguous or not recorded, so it comes down to a swearing match at trial.
A defendant facing a sex charge needs a criminal lawyer in Harris County, Texas, who knows how to handle these cases. Experience shows more people are falsely accused of sex crimes than any other felony. Not just any criminal attorney can handle these cases. Instead, the lawyer needs a proven track record of investigating AND trying these cases. Do not be afraid to ask the lawyer you are seeking to hire details about his abilities with sex offenses.