Criminal Appeals

Criminal appeals represent a second chance at justice after errors were made by the trial judge, the prosecutor engaged in misconduct, the criminal defense attorney was ineffective at trial, or the jury made a wrong decision because of misconduct.

After a wrongful conviction in court, you should hire a criminal appellate attorney to file a notice of appeal and get the case ready so that the initial brief can be filed in the appellate court.

The purpose of a direct appeal in a criminal case is to determine whether sufficient evidence supported the conviction or whether errors were prejudicial. Prejudicial errors might include procedural errors that caused substantial harm to the defendant.

For purposes of a criminal appeal, the term “prejudicial error” includes:

  • errors made by the judge about the law;
  • errors or misconduct by the prosecutor;
  • incorrect instructions given to the jury;
  • ineffective assistance of the criminal defense attorney; or
  • misconduct by the jury that harmed the appellant.

When the appellate court conducts its review, it presumes that the judgment, order, or other decision being appealed is correct. It is the responsibility of the appellant to show the appellate division that an error was made and that the error was harmful.


Attorney for Criminal Appeals in Ventura, CA

If you are convicted of a crime at trial after a guilty verdict, you have the right to file a direct appeal. If you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to appeal a conviction in a felony or misdemeanor case, then contact an attorney at Jay Leiderman Law.

Jay Leiderman is an experienced criminal appellate attorney in Ventura, CA who works with clients in Ventura, Camarillo, Fillmore, Moorpark, Ojai, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Santa Paula, Simi Valley, and Thousand Oaks. We can help you determine whether your verdict or conviction might be vacated or set aside because of an error made by the trial judge, the prosecutor, the criminal defense attorney, or a member of the jury.

We can also help you appeal a finding by the court after a hearing on an allegation that you violated probation. If the direct appeal is not successful, we can help you pursue post-conviction relief.

Call (805) 654-0200 today for a free consultation.


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Overview of Criminal Appeals Law in California


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Direct Appeals for Sufficient Evidence

The most common reasons for a criminal appeal include a lack of sufficient evidence to support the verdict. In a criminal appeal, the appellant/defendant can ask the appellate court to determine whether the guilty verdict, order or other decision being appealed is supported by substantial evidence.

The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment denies the State of California the power to deprive the accused of liberty unless the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt every element of the charged offense. For this reason, the verdict must be supported by substantial evidence.

When conducting the appellate review, the appellate court considers whether sufficient evidence supports the decision. The party that files the appeal is called the APPELLANT. In a misdemeanor or felony case, this is usually the party convicted of committing the crime (the “defendant”).

The other party that responds to the appeal is the RESPONDENT. In a felony or misdemeanor case, the respondent is usually the government agency that filed the criminal charges (on court papers, this party is called the People of the State of California).

The issue for appeal is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Under California law, the appellate court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the defendant and presume in support of the judgment the existence of every fact the jury or fact finder could reasonably deduce from the evidence.

Evidence is sufficient to support a conviction only if it is substantial, that is, if it “reasonably inspires confidence” and is “credible and of solid value.” See People v. Fromuth (2016) 2 Cal.App.5th 91, 103-104.

Before a verdict may be set aside for insufficiency of the evidence, the criminal appellate attorney for the defense must demonstrate “ ‘that upon no hypothesis whatever is there sufficient substantial evidence to support [the conviction].’ ” (People v. Bolin (1998) 18 Cal.4th 297, 331.)

The sufficiency of the evidence to support enhancement is reviewed using the same standard applied to a conviction. (People v. Wilson (2008) 44 Cal.4th 758, 806.)


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Direct Appeals for Evidentiary Rules

The appellate courts review the trial court’s evidentiary rulings under an abuse of discretion standard. (People v. Cowan (2010) 50 Cal.4th 401, 462.)

Under the abuse of discretion standard on appeal, “a trial court’s ruling will not be disturbed, and reversal … is not required, unless the trial court exercised its discretion in an arbitrary, capricious, or patently absurd manner that resulted in a manifest miscarriage of justice.” (People v. Foster (2010) 50 Cal.4th 1301, 1328-1329.)


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Appeals for the Failure to Grant a Continuance

An issue in some criminal appeals is whether the trial court erred in refusing to grant the criminal defense attorney’s request for a continuance. In California, a continuance may only be granted for good cause, and trial courts have broad discretion to determine whether good cause exists.8 (§ 1050, subd. (e).

When the defense brings a direct appeal challenging the trial court’s ruling on a continuance, the defense bears the burden of establishing an abuse of discretion, and an order denying a continuance is seldom successfully attacked.’ ” (People v. Anderson (2018) 5 Cal.5th 372, 397, quoting People v. Beames (2007) 40 Cal.4th 907, 920.)

While a showing of good cause requires that the parties demonstrate they have prepared for trial with due diligence, the trial court may not exercise its discretion so as to deprive the defendant or his attorney of a reasonable opportunity to prepare.

The appellate court considers the circumstances of each case and the reasons presented for the request to determine whether a trial court’s denial of a continuance was so arbitrary as to deny due process. When the defense is able to make a showing of an abuse of discretion and prejudice, the trial court’s denial of the request for a continuance will warrant reversal on appeal.


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