Appeals / Post-Conviction Relief

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Appeals / Post-Conviction Relief

A criminal appeal can be filed when a person is wrongfully convicted of an offense and believes that there were mistakes made during the trial process. An appeal gives a person convicted of a crime an opportunity for a second chance at justice. An appeal is an attempt to correct the rulings of a trial judge as well as to address inadvertent mistakes made by attorneys and jurors.

Issues that commonly arise on appeal include:
  • Whether the evidence was illegally obtained by law enforcement
  • Whether certain evidence should not have been admitted at trial
  • Whether certain evidence should have been admitted at trial that may have affected a different outcome for the defendant
  • Whether jury instructions were incorrectly submitted to the jury at the end of the trial
  • Whether the prosecutor committed misconduct in the opening statement or in the closing argument
  • Whether the judge acted improperly during the trial
  • Whether the sentence was lawful within state-specific guidelines
  • Whether there was jury misconduct in rendering the verdict
The process varies widely depending on the type of proceeding to be reviewed, and the jurisdiction. In the typical case, the party challenging the lower court ruling, known as the Appellant, must file a legal brief outlining his or her arguments. The other party, known as the Appellee, must file a responsive brief, to which the Appellant may reply. Finally, the parties will appear before the Court for an oral argument. 

The Judges on the appellate court then decide whether an error was committed and if so, whether a remedy is warranted. A remedy ordered by an appeals court might take the form of an order to the trial court to grant a new trial, to dismiss charges, or to resentence the defendant.

In North Dakota, a criminal defendant may appeal after she is found guilty by a judge or jury. Virtually all North Dakota appeals go directly to the North Dakota Supreme Court since the North Dakota’s intermediate appellate court rarely convenes.
In Minnesota, a criminal defendant can appeal after she is found guilty by a judge or jury. An appeal would then proceed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals and, if needed, to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Please know that the criminal appeals process is very intricate and requires strong and skilled expertise. Many appeals take more than a year and involve an intense scrutiny of the trial court transcript. North Dakota and Minnesota have rigid rules concerning the time in which an appeal may be filed; consequently, prompt action is advisable to protect a defendant’s right to appeal.
The attorneys at Aaland Law Firm have the expertise and experience required to thoroughly research the mistakes made at the trial court level. They also have the ability to make assertive written and oral arguments to provide you with a second chance at justice.
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