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An appeal can help you have a bad decision overturned

One benefit of the United States criminal justice system is that you have a right to appeal if you are convicted of a crime. An appeal petitions a higher court to overturn a lower court's decision. For instance, if you believe that the trial was unfair, you can petition the higher court to change the ruling and overturn the lower court's decision.

An appeal can target a portion of your sentence or the conviction. For example, if you believe you are innocent but were found guilty, you can seek an appeal from a higher court in hopes of having the lower court's decision overturned. If you believe that a sentence is too harsh, you may be able to appeal the sentence itself and seek a reduction in the penalties. Your best chance of this working is if the prison term, fines or other penalties are beyond the law's limit.

Your attorney can also directly appeal for a new trial or ask for the judge to overrule the jury's decision. These are both unlikely to be successful, but since each case is different, it's worth trying this option in some situations.

It's good to understand that an appeal doesn't necessarily mean that there will be a new trial. The appellate court reviews the transcripts from the court case and evidence presented at trial. Once it reviews this information, the court determines if the ruling was fair or legal. If not, the ruling may be overturned. In some cases, a new trial is granted. If that happens, your attorney can help you build a stronger defense for the new trial.

Source: FindLaw, "The Appeal, Writ and Habeas Corpus Petition Process," accessed June 23, 2017

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