In many situations, a defendant in a criminal case is not satisfied with the outcome of the case. In some situations, there is something that you can do if you believe that a judge’s decision during the trial was inappropriate, or if you believe a verdict or a criminal sentence was not fair. That something involves appealing your criminal conviction.
Appeals involve asking a higher court to take a look at what the lower court has done in order for the higher court to determine if any errors were made that could justify reversing a decision that was made.
You need to make solid legal arguments for an appeal to be successful, as the appeals court isn’t going to overturn a verdict and substitute its decisions for the jury’s decisions when it comes to questions of fact. The appeals court will look at whether the law was correctly applied and whether the decisions of the court were appropriate when determining how to proceed.
Appeals are a specialized type of legal process, which requires a very different skill set than an initial court case. When you believe that a case should be appealed, you must ensure that you have a very good criminal appeals lawyer to represent you and try to make strong legal arguments.
Appeals are governed by N.R.S. 177.015 through N.R.S. 177.305.
Only a defendant can appeal a final judgment when a criminal case ends in a verdict, and there are some limits on a defendant’s right to appeal. For example, unless an exception applies, a defendant generally cannot appeal a final judgment that results from a guilty plea, a nolo contedere plea, or a plea of guilty but mentally ill as long as the defendant entered into the plea knowingly and voluntarily. The appeals court can establish appropriate rules mandating a defendant make a preliminary showing that an appeal is proper.
A prosecutor, who acts on behalf of the state, is not allowed to appeal an unfavorable final judgement because of constitutional protections including double jeopardy rules. However, there are certain decisions that the state can appeal throughout the trial. Some of the rules for appeal are the same for both defendants and the state, including rules for where appeals can be filed.
For both prosecutors (the state) and defendants, appeals in Nevada may be made to the district court if the final decision was made in justice court, according to N.R.S. 177.015. If the appeal involves the district court granting a motion to dismiss, a motion for acquittal, or a motion in arrest of judgement, the appeal may be made to an appellate court with jurisdiction.
The appellate court can also hear appeals on a district court’s decision to grant or refuse a new trial; on whether a defendant is intellectually disabled; and on whether evidence should be suppressed.
If the state is appealing a decision granting or denying a motion to suppress evidence, notice of the appeal has to be filed with the district court clerk within two judicial days of the ruling and notice also must be filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court within five judicial days. The defendant or defendant’s attorney has to be notified within two days of the appeal being filed.
Nick Wooldridge has a long track record of representing clients accused of serious federal and state crimes in Nevada.
The appeals court can establish appropriate procedures to require the appellant to make a preliminary showing that the appeal is a proper one and that failure to entertain the appeal could be a miscarriage of justice. In some circumstances, however, an automatic appeal is required. For example, there is a mandatory review by the court of appeals or by the Supreme Court in any circumstances where a criminal case ends with a death sentence. Even if the defendant or the defendant’s attorney affirmatively waives the right to an appeal in a death sentence case, the appellate court still must review the case based on court records.
According to N.R.S. 177.025, an appeal to the appellate court or to the Supreme Court has to be based on questions of law alone.
A defendant or prosecutor cannot appeal just because he does not like a decision made by a judge or by a jury or does not believe that a jury interpreted the facts correctly. The appellate court cares only whether the law was followed and the court acted properly in accordance with legal requirements.
While appeals are often made by defendants at the end of the criminal proceedings, there are also intermediate appeals permitted in circumstances as well. According to N.R.S. 177.045, a court’s decision on an intermediate order or proceeding can be reviewed as long as it forms part of the court record. Intermediate appeals are important because sometimes a decision made by the court could affect the entire outcome of the case. You do not want to go through a whole trial and then discover that the verdict is overturned on appeal because the judge decided wrongly on a question of law early on during the proceedings.
Supreme Court of Nevada – Court of Appeals
408 East Clark Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Department of Administration – Hearings Division (Appeals Officer Process)
2200 South Rancho Drive, Suite 210
Las Vegas, Nevada
A Las Vegas criminal defense attorney can provide invaluable assistance in deciding if you have grounds for appeal and in making arguments during the appeals process. You want to ensure you have the best possible chance of a successful appeal, so you need an attorney who understands how this type of case works.
LV Criminal Defense has offered assistance to many clients appealing both final decisions and appealing during the course of criminal proceedings. Give us a call if you believe that legal mistakes were made that adversely affected the outcome of your case.