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Appealing a Criminal Sentence

How to successfully appeal a criminal sentence.

Being convicted of a crime is not the end of the road. You may be able to appeal your conviction or appeal the sentence imposed upon you. Although, appealing your sentence may be difficult because appellate judges usually defer to the decision of the sentencing judge at the trial court level. There is usually a range of punishments, including jail times and fines, provided in the applicable criminal statute and if the judge stays within this range, the sentence will usually stand. It is in some cases, however, still a possibility to successfully appeal your criminal sentence.

What Happens When You Appeal a Criminal Sentence?

While it may be difficult to successfully appeal a criminal sentence, there are some instances where you may be successful in this endeavor. For instance, if the trial judge made an error in the law or applicable facts of the case, a sentence may be successfully appealed. The error must have been a significant one to merit resentencing. A judge may have applied in the incorrect factors in sentencing or sentenced pursuant to the incorrect penalty provisions. In the alternative, the judge may have failed to account for mitigating factors required by law that would have worked in your favor. If the appellate court finds that a legal error was made, the sentence will be set aside and the trial judge will be ordered to re-sentence the defendant pursuant to the applicable law. It is important to note, however, that the trial judge may correctly follow the law at the resentencing hearing and may still be within the law in imposing the same sentence or even a harsher sentence.

In some cases, the trial judge may have made an error in his or her findings of fact during the sentencing proceeding. This may form the basis of a favorable sentencing appeal. To successfully appeal a sentence based on factual errors, the errors must have been significant.

Although rarely successful, it is still possible to have your sentence appealed based on its severity. You will need to be able to show that your sentence far and away exceeded the penalties imposed under comparable circumstances. It will also help if you are able to prove that the judge had some kind of prejudice or bias against your that led him or her to impose an unduly harsh sentence. If you can show that your sentence is a sharp departure from sentences imposed under similar fact patterns, then the appellate court will send it back to the trial judge for resentencing. If you have shown that the trial judge has a prejudice or bias against you, the appellate court is likely to send the case back to a different trial court judge for resentencing.

Criminal Defense Counsel Dedicated to Our Clients All the Way Through to the Appeals Process

At Barket, Marion, Epstein & Kearon, LLP, we don’t give up on our clients. We fight for them when they are faced with criminal charges. We fight for them should their case need to be appealed. If you are facing criminal charges or wish to appeal your criminal conviction or sentence, contact us today.

Posted in: Criminal Defense