Although the first you may hear about criminal charges is when police offers arrive at your place of business or home with a formal indictment charging you with a criminal offence. However, before this happens there will have been an extensive investigation into the alleged criminal activity.
Under U.S. constitutional law, you have rights, one of those rights, under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, is the right to counsel. This means that at any stage from the moment you are made aware of an investigate you are entitled to have a lawyer with you and provide you with advice.
Your legal counsel, whether they are an attorney, lawyer or Barrister, will help you understand what is happen, and negotiate with the prosecuting attorney on your behalf, If your case goes to court they will offer a defense and try to prove to a judge and jury that you are innocent of the charges present.
What Do I Do If Found Guilty?
It is a terrifying prospect, but if you are found guilty in a district court, you still have the right to appeal the verdict. Your first step is to find criminal appeals attorneys. Your current legal counsel may be able to suggest a colleague you could work with, or you can ask around for recommendations.
However, the important thing to confirm is that you are working with someone who works primarily as an appellate attorney and is focused on the federal court system. The appeals process is a very specific aspect of the American legal system, and having a specialist attorney who is able to work with your trial lawyer will insure the process of filling an appeal will be smoother, and increase your chances of having a successful outcome at the Federal Courts of Appeal.
What Happens At the Federal Courts of Appeal?
This is a very specific type of court, unlike what you may have seen on TV shows when they talk about appealing a verdict. At a court of appeal your attorney will not be trying to overturn your guilty verdict or get you a lesser sentence, instead their primary goal is to get the case retried. They will do this by arguing that the original trial breeched an aspect of the law or that the trial was not fair. One of the more common reasons to go to a court of appeal is if you had suffered an illegal search and it was this search that formed the basis of the case against you.
There are very strict timelines between the time you were charged, the time you were found guilty, and the time you have to lodge an appeal. This is why it is important to engage an appeals lawyer as soon as possible. They will need to have time read through the trial documentation and to understand where there are grounds to lodge a notice of appeal. It is rare that an application to appeal will be given an extension on the deadline, and if the notice to appeal is not lodged in time then you have lost any ability to appeal your case through the Federal Courts of Appeal.
Which Lawyer Should I Use?
Often you will be best served by having your trial lawyer continue to represent you in the court, both in front of the judges that make up the court of appeal, as well as, hopefully, at your new trial. In addition, your appellate attorney will be able to work with your trial lawyer to do the hard research and present them with the facts and relevant legislation which your trial lawyer will be able to deliver. Because your trial lawyer has already built a relationship with you this is often the best way to ensure that your interest is met with conviction and passion.
However, if you do not feel that your trial lawyer is really working in your best interests, for whatever reason, then you may wish to talk to your appeals lawyer about how best to proceed, not just with the appeal process, but assuming that it is successful talk to them about their advice for what should happen in the new trial. Generally, your appellate attorney is a specialist who is unlikely to be willing to represent you as a trial lawyer directly.