The Criminal Appeals Process in Arizona

Having been convicted of a crime in Arizona does not mean the battle is over. There are still things you can do to challenge the decision. Going through the criminal appeals process is an essential. For best results, you obviously need an experienced legal representative who is familiar with the judicial system and the steps that will have to be undertaken in order to appeal.

What is an Appeal and How Does it Work?

An appeal process makes it possible for the case to be reviewed one more time. Errors and omissions can be identified, which will lead to a different outcome. In Arizona, a defendant can appeal only if they have been found guilty. Any other verdict is final and cannot be challenged.

There are several appeal options. A direct appeal has to be filed within 20 days of the sentence being produced. A Notice of Appeal is to be submitted, following by an Opening Brief on behalf of the defense attorney. The government has the right to respond to it. All of the information will be revealed three court of appeal judges. They can either confirm the previous sentence, modify it or reverse the ruling.

Different claims can be filed under an appeal form known as post-conviction relief petition.

A post-conviction relief petition can be submitted whenever there is a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel or if additional evidence has come to light.

When all other options have been exhausted, the defendant will be left with one final opportunity – petitions for writs of Habeas Corpus. This type of appeal is filed with the US District Court and it is available to prisoners who want to challenge their confinement. A violation of the prisoner’s constitutional rights is typically addressed through this kind of appeal.

Grounds for Appealing a Court Decision

To appeal a court decision, a criminal defense attorney should be capable of providing a sufficiently important and adequate reason.

A few reason could grant the defendant an appeal in Arizona. The first one is inadequacy of the attorney who handled the case the first time around. After a defendant changes their legal representative, the court decision could be challenged.

If a defendant believes that the judge or the jury members did not handle the case adequately, they could appeal. This is also possible in the case of procedural errors.

Finally, the discovery of new evidence that negates the one presented during the trial could also warrant an appeal before a higher court.

All of the information is presented in a written form to the panel of appellate judges. Few hearings are scheduled, if any take place at all. This is one of the main differences between criminal proceedings in Arizona and criminal appeals process. The appeal panel is not going to go through the entire previous hearing. Rather, they will focus on omissions and violations alone.

What Happens When You Appeal the Sentence?

If you are satisfied with the ruling produced by the court of appeal judges, you will leave it there. Keep in mind, however, that a complete reversal of the first verdict is going to be very difficult to achieve.

criminal appeals processEven if the previous sentence is modified and some evidence gets dropped, the prosecution could still be capable of reaching a guilty verdict. Some evidence obtained illegally will be taken out of consideration but there could be new evidence or the remaining evidence may be sufficient for the prosecution.

Arizona is one of the states that have two appellate courts – the court of appeals and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is a last resort option and its decision cannot be overturned by another judicial authority.

Finally, an automatic appeal will be filed with the Supreme Court whenever a defendant faces the death penalty. In all other instances, the appeal will first have to go through the court of appeals.