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Criminal Appeals

Once a case has been tried and a verdict rendered many Defendant’s fear that the case is over. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The Defendant along with their attorney has several tools in their toolbox in order to make sure that the first trial was fair and if it wasn’t then to move for a new trial. We are going to discuss some of those possible remedies below, now remember not every item may apply to your case, however this is meant to give you a brief overview of just some of the items that we at Sudduth and Associates, LLC practice in the appellate field.

  1. Post-Conviction Relief
    1. At the outset we should note that any applications for post-conviction relief are riddled with rules and procedural hurdles that make the assistance of an attorney absolutely essential to any chance of success.
    2. Second, we should also note that there is a two-year period after the judgment of conviction and sentence bas become final wherein a Defendant can file an application for post-conviction relief. See C. Cr. P. Art. 930.8
    3. In general, the grounds for an application for post-conviction relief are: (1) the conviction was obtained in violation of the U.S. Constitution or Louisiana Constitution, (2) the Court exceeded its jurisdiction, (3) the conviction or sentence subjected the Defendant to double jeopardy, (4) the limitations to bring prosecution had expired, (5) the statute creating the offense is unconstitutional, (6) the conviction violates the ex post facto application of law, or (7) DNA results prove the Defendant is factually innocent by clear and convincing evidence.
  2. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
    1. Under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a Defendant has the right to not just counsel to assist in their defense but more importantly they have the right to competent and effective counsel in preparing their defense. For a variety of reasons sometimes a defense attorney may miss an opportunity to cross examine a key witness, may fail to make a key objection, or any one of thousands of mistakes that can be made during a trial.
    2. We pause to note that not all mistakes mean a Defendant had ineffective counsel; rather a Defendant’s case should be carefully evaluated to see if we can make a good faith argument to the Court of Appeals that the Defendant’s attorney at the trial level was ineffective.
  • Choice of Counsel
    1. Unlike Assistance of Counsel, discussed above, choice of counsel is an entirely different right that the Defendant is entitled to. For example, if a Defendant has been granted a Public Defender and then the Defendant or their family gathers the money to afford a “private attorney” or their counsel of choice that right must be protected.
    2. Under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a defendant not only has the right to an attorney – they have the absolute right to the attorney of their choice.
    3. Trials have been overturned and new trials granted on this reason alone.
  1. Excessive Sentence
    1. Under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution it prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. This is an incredibly vague term and has been subject to much litigation. Like all areas of constitutional law – the Eighth Amendment is not immune – the law is complicated.
    2. However, under certain circumstances Defendants have seen success in challenging their sentence as “excessive” and getting it reduced.
  2. Motion for New Trial
    1. This motion is based on the idea that the Defendant has suffered some injustice in the first case and therefore a new trial must be initiated, based on the following grounds: (1) the verdict is contrary to the law and evidence, (2) one of the Court’s rulings on a written motion shows prejudicial error, (3) new and material evidence has come forward that would have changed the verdict, (4) the defendant has discovered since the judgment or verdict of guilty a prejudicial error, (5) the Court is of the opinion that the ends of justice would be served by the granting of a new trial, or (6) the defendant was a victim of human trafficking.
    2. This motion must be filed and dealt with by the court before sentence is imposed on the Defendant, so time is of the essence.
    3. So if your attorney at the trial level is not comfortable handling the appeal contact us today to get us started soon on your case.
  3. Writs of Habeas Corpus
    1. This writ is one of the oldest creatures in our law and dates back to its original use in England under the Common law system. The writ once translated means “produce the body.” This writ enables the individual to hold accountable the State’s awesome power to restrain liberty. It was used extensively in England to challenge the King’s use of commissions, councils, and courts where people were often held for incredibly extensive periods to be interrogated.
    2. In the American System, our Founders viewed the writ as so important they wrote into the body of the Constitution itself. Specifically Article I, §9 “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Case of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” The Bill of Rights, which includes the first ten amendments to the constitution, are widely viewed as an afterthought. They were amendments – added later. The writ of habeas corpus were so important that the Founders of our country agreed to place that right in the Constitution itself.
    3. In modern day use, we use this Writ to challenge sentences and convictions once they are final through post-conviction relief. A unique aspect to this avenue of attack is that it allows us a remedy in Federal court. The writ of habeas corpus has a dovetail back into the federal process. It is possible to appeal a conviction through the entire state system and then challenge that same conviction again in the Federal system through this writ.

While we never guarantee outcomes, because each case is so different and unique, we have seen much success over time in aggressively defending our clients. Outcomes cannot be guaranteed by anyone, but at Sudduth and Associates, we pride ourselves on guaranteeing to our clients our heart, our passion, and our every effort.

Having the experienced team of paralegals, investigators, and attorneys at Sudduth & Associates, LLC on your side is invaluable to you receiving the best possible outcome. Call us today to see how we can help you level the playing field to get the best possible outcome in your case!

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