Our Lawyers Take Appeals All the Way to the Supreme Court
Fayetteville criminal appeals attorneys don’t give up
An appeal is not a second trial — no witnesses are heard; no evidence is offered — but it can be a second chance at a favorable resolution of your case. The appellate court reviews only the technical aspects of your earlier proceedings to ensure that the trial court followed the law and procedure. The attorneys at the James Law Firm have decades of experience in handling criminal appeals. We work hard to convince the appellate court there was reversible error in your trial.
What is the appeals process?
In most situations, a state case is appealed to the Arkansas Court of Appeals, which is divided into seven districts. The state’s highest appellate court is the Arkansas Supreme Court, which has seven justices who sit in Little Rock.
Federal criminal cases begin in a U.S. District Court. There are two U.S. District Courts in Arkansas — the Eastern District, based in Little Rock, and the Western District, based in Fort Smith. Decisions from those courts are appealed to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is based in St. Louis, Mo. Appeals from the various U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals go the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
A criminal case can begin in state court but end up in a federal appellate court if the appeal is based on a federal issue, such as a right granted by the U.S. Constitution. The criminal defense attorneys at James Law Firm are authorized to practice in both the federal and Arkansas courts.
What are common grounds for an appeal?
Legal error, juror misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel are often the bases for an appeal in a criminal case.
- Legal error — Potential errors include incorrect jury instructions, improperly admitted evidence and lack of sufficient evidence to support the verdict. For the appeal to succeed, the appellate court must decide that the error was serious enough to affect the outcome of the trial. An error that was so minor that it would not have changed the result is called “harmless error.”
- Juror misconduct — A conviction may be appealed if the jury acted improperly during the trial or deliberations. Common examples of jury misconduct include repeatedly falling asleep during the trial, using drugs or alcohol during the proceedings, and communicating with witnesses or counsel. In the Internet era, an increasingly common scenario of juror misconduct involves jurors who do after-hours Internet research on the witnesses or issues in the case.
- Ineffective assistance of counsel — Criminal defendants often appeal their cases when they have reason to believe they were not provided with adequate representation. To succeed in an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, a defendant typically must prove that but for their attorney’s actions, the outcome of the case would have been different.
An Arkansas law firm with the resources to pursue your appeal
The James Law Firm is among the largest criminal defense firms in Arkansas. Contact us online or call 501.683.8575 to schedule your free consultation. Hablamos español. We have offices in Little Rock, Fayetteville and Conway to serve you.