scales of justice

Can I Appeal My Sentence?

Hearing the word “guilty” at the end of your criminal trial can be one of the heaviest blows to take. Again, you face the court waiting for sentencing after being convicted. Hearing your sentence can feel like an even bigger blow. Hearing the actual penalties you must confront as a result of that guilty verdict can feel like your life has been flipped over. You may feel frustrated. You may feel incredibly sad and incredibly angry. You may feel hopeless. Do not, however, yet lose hope. You may be able to appeal your sentence.

Can I Appeal My Sentence?

There are several ways you may be able to seek a modification of a criminal sentence. An appeal is one of them. Other ways to modify a criminal sentence may be through court recall, bringing a writ of habeas corpus petition, or filing a motion for resentencing. A motion for resentencing can be filed by a person who has already been convicted of a crime and received a sentence for that conviction. The motion is, essentially, requesting that the court either reduce or otherwise modify the sentence. In most cases, a motion for resentencing will ask that jail or prison time be reduced. These motions also commonly requested that a defendant be released from custody or that his or her conditions of probation be relaxed. It can be filed with the court any time after the original sentence has been issued and the petitioner can show good cause.

It is important to note that an appeal is not a new trial that occurs before a higher court. New evidence will not be allowed. It is not an opportunity to retry the case. There will be no testimony from witnesses heard. The task of the appellate court is to review the proceedings and rulings of the lower court to see if there were legal errors that impacted the rights of any parties involved. An appeal must be taken after a final judgment is issued. The conviction and sentencing of a defendant are considered to be final judgments and can be appealed. 

You must file a general notice of appeal to appeal the sentence. While you are not required to list specific issues on this notice, you will need to do so in your appellate brief. In your brief, you are essentially explaining to the appellate court why you should be granted appellate relief. In the case of appealing your sentence, your relief sought is likely to be a new sentence. Alternatively, you may seek relief in the form of a new trial or reversal of your conviction.

In order to show the appellate court that you are entitled to the relief sought, you will need to detail your arguments and the support you have for such arguments. This will require a thorough examination of what happened in trial and pretrial hearings. Did your trial counsel make mistakes? Did the prosecutor make improper statements? Were there errors made by the judge that impacted your rights? These arguments should be supported with both California statutes, regulations, and case law and may even need to include U.S. constitutional law.

San Bernardino Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have questions about your options after you have been convicted of a crime, talk to the trusted team at the Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman. We can get to work immediately on pursuing the best avenue for post-conviction relief. Contact us today.