Looking for an Indiana Criminal Appeals Attorney?
If you’d like to appeal a criminal conviction, time is of the essence as you only have 30 days from the date of your sentencing to file a notice of appeal. Furthermore, you’ll want to find an experienced Indiana criminal appeals attorney to represent you for this stage of the criminal justice process. While you could certainly retain the same attorney you used in your criminal trial, it’s important to understand that appeals are completely different proceedings than those of a trial court. Therefore, it might be wise to find an attorney who understands the unique dynamics of the appellate process, in addition to the complexities of a sound criminal defense.
If you’d like to speak with a criminal appeals lawyer in Indiana today, you can call the Indianapolis attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our team is made up of former deputy prosecutors who understand the Indiana criminal justice system inside and out. They have experience in both criminal trials and appeals, and are well-suited to help you navigate the complex proceedings ahead of you. To speak with an attorney today call at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with a member of our Indiana criminal appeals team.
The Basics of Criminal Appeals in Indiana
It’s important to understand that when you appeal a criminal conviction or sentence, you’re not necessarily bringing about new evidence or presenting an alternative narrative for the alleged offense. Instead, you’re challenging a decision of a trial court or the verdict of a jury. This means that the appellate court will be evaluating whether the trial court made any material errors of law that may have affected the ultimate outcome in the case against you.
If you are convicted of a criminal offense in Indiana, you have one automatic right to appeal, depending on the reason raised in the appeal. Furthermore, you have 30 days from sentencing to file that appeal.
Given this, the first thing an Indiana criminal appeals attorney will do when meeting with you is evaluate the possible arguments you may make to file for an appeal. Some of the more common arguments that our attorneys seek to use when petitioning the Indiana Court of Appeals include:
- The evidence doesn’t support the verdict or judgment.
- The defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel, thus violating their Sixth Amendment under the US Constitution.
- The trial court made an error when applying the law.
- The lower court abused its discretion when it ruled on a motion.
Discretionary Appeals in Indiana
Given the context of the situation, there are two additional appeals that one could make called discretionary appeals. These types of appeals arise in situations where the Court of Appeals has already heard your appeal and you wish to appeal their decision to the Indiana Supreme Court; or where an interim order has been issued that cannot immediately be appealed, but the appellate court deems it necessary to allow the appeal due to the importance of the decision.
Reasons for a Criminal Appeal in Indiana
When someone chooses to appeal a conviction and/or sentence, they’re often asking the court for certain things, like the reversal of their conviction or a judgment of conviction for a lesser offense. They could also be asking for a new trial, a different or lesser sentence, or a recalculation of sentencing time. However, each of these requests requires different arguments. For example, if the defendant wanted a reversal of their conviction, they may argue that their guilt was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt; or that the evidence provided was insufficient in warranting their conviction. On the other hand, if the defendant was seeking a different or lesser sentence, they may argue that the sentence doesn’t comply with the Indiana Sentencing Guidelines; or that the trial court judge abused their discretion in the length or type of sentence they ordered.
Remember: every appeal is different and complex, in its own right. Given how unique this area of the law is, it’s best to retain the counsel of a skilled and experienced Indiana criminal appeal attorney. They would be able to provide sound counsel on whether it’s best to make an appeal, and if so, under which grounds to make an appeal. To speak with a criminal appeals lawyer in Indiana today, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Review of Issues Raised on Appeal
Any of our Indiana criminal appeals lawyers will tell you: criminal trials present both the prosecution and the judge with an abundance of opportunity for error. In fact, there’s so much going on at the trial court level that errors are made with striking frequency. However, when it comes to making a criminal appeal in Indiana, the question you need to ask yourself is, “how serious is the error?”
When the Indiana Court of Appeals is presented with a small, harmless error, they often find that the defendant is not entitled to relief on appeal. This is because the error had no direct effect on the defendant and the outcome in the case against them. Bigger errors, however, are taken seriously by the Court of Appeals, and will be thoroughly reviewed to evaluate whether or not relief is warranted given the circumstances of the petition. To do so, the appellate court will, depending on the error alleged, apply a different standard of review for each error mentioned in the appeal. These standards of review include:
- De Novo: When there is disagreement over the law applied, rather than the facts of the case, the appellate court shall review all of the determination of trial court and make its own determination on the matter without any deference to the trial court’s decision.
- Abuse of Discretion: Under some circumstances, trial courts have latitude in how they rule on an issue. When reviewing these issues on appeal, the appellate court can reverse the trial court’s decision. However, this can only be done if the original decision was made against the logic and effect of the circumstances in the case. This type of review is most commonly applied to evidentiary rulings, like the admissibility of expert opinions or other evidentiary issues.
- Clearly Erroneous: This standard of review applies to situations where the appellate court, after reviewing all relevant facts in the case, finds that the ultimate conclusion of the trial court did not match or follow the facts presented in the trial.
- Great Deference: Since the trial court is able to best judge the credibility of witnesses, the appellate court will refrain from reversing or disagreeing with the trial court’s decision on questions of fact, unless the decision was nonsensical or flies in the face of regular jurisprudence.
What to Look for in an Indiana Criminal Appeals Attorney
If you have just been convicted and sentenced for a crime in Indiana, it may feel like you’ve reached the unfortunate end of a long, stressful process. However, when it comes to criminal appeals, this is just the beginning. From the moment you’ve been sentenced, the clock begins ticking, as you only have 30 days from that point to file your appeal. While this may seem very quick, the appeals process does slow down after filing and that’s when your Indiana criminal appeals attorney can really get to work on your case.
Indiana criminal defense lawyers tend to wear many hats. Some days they’re doing negotiations, while others they’re engaged in litigation. At times, defense lawyers can be seen as advocates or preservers; while at other times, they are simply buried in paperwork. All this to say: they tend to be quite busy. While that’s to be expected given their occupation, it’s not what you want from a criminal appeals attorney. You want them to be quick thinking, creative and most importantly, available.
When you hire an Indiana criminal appeals attorney, you’re hiring them with the stated goal of convincing the appellate court that an error was made at the trial court level and that error made your conviction and/or sentence unfair or contrary to law, therefore warranting a different outcome. While this may sound like something any lawyer can do, it’s not. Successful appeals require a lawyer that fully understands how appellate courts review trial court processes, can ably identify errors and communicate why your reversal is warranted, and ultimately, persuade the appellate court to grant relief via written brief. Furthermore, it requires a lawyer who is available and tireless, as they must meet tight appellate court deadlines and collect/organize a comprehensive record of everything that occurred at the trial level.
Ready to Speak with an Indiana Criminal Appeals Attorney?
Just because you know the attorney who represented you in trial court, it doesn’t mean you have to retain them for your criminal appeal. In fact, you should seek out an attorney who is uniquely skilled at various elements that are vital to a successful appeal: research, writing, and persuasion. Not only will this better your chance of having relief granted on appeal, but it may provide a fresh perspective on everything you’ve gone through up until this point.
If you would like to speak with an Indiana criminal appeals attorney today, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our attorneys have experience with both trial and appellate court and will do everything in their power to ensure the courts have not disregarded your rights.