When Can You Appeal Your Conviction?

You’ve gone through your trial and despite your best efforts, a jury of your peers has found you guilty of your charges, and your judge has sentenced you to jail, fines, and other penalties. However, there’s one flaw: you’re innocent and you know it. This is an obvious misapplication of justice, so what can you do to protect your rights? Are you doomed to suffer the consequences?

Not necessarily. Provisions exist which allow you to petition for a new trial, known as an appeal. This allows you to have your case re-tried, often with the inclusion of new evidence, new arguments, and hopefully a better opportunity to prove your innocence. Not everyone qualifies for an appeal, however. Let’s take a look at the limitations on appeals or new trials in more detail.

New Evidence

A motion for a new trial can be filed within ten days of the entry of conviction, meaning you only have a short time to actually petition for an appeal, so you and your attorney should move quickly to file your petition and start assembling your appeals case. However, this limit may not apply if your appeal is based on new evidence that was not known prior to the trial. In this instance, you could possibly petition the court for a new trial long after your conviction was entered.

Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 270 says that a case can be reopened at any time and new evidence can be offered “when it clearly appears to be necessary to the due administration of justice.” Basically what this means is that if the court believes your new evidence could potentially change the outcome of your case, you could be granted a new trial, even if this petition comes well outside the 10-day limitation.

How do you show that the evidence may change the outcome of your case? There are a few things you must be able to demonstrate:

  • The new evidence was brought to the defendant’s attention after the trial concluded
  • The defendant and their counsel failing to discover the evidence was not due to “lack of due diligence” in their efforts
  • The new evidence isn’t just a re-wording or re-statement of the evidence that has already been submitted

Writ of Habeas Corpus

Habeas Corpus, which essentially translates to “show the body”, is a legal processed used by courts to demand that someone being “restrained” by law enforcement bring that individual to the court and explain to the court why they are being held. This is particularly important for people who have been detained but not fully arrested or if they have been arrested and not charged. However, this statute also applies to those who have been convicted of a felony. In 2010 the Texas Court of Appeals ruled that “restraint” also included loss of employment, voting rights, job opportunities, and more as a result of being a convicted felon. Such individuals were then given the ability to appeal their conviction and have their sentence discharged if they could demonstrate their innocence. Only felony charges qualify for this form of relief.

If you do wish to file a motion for a new trial, it’s important to make sure you follow the procedures exactly and move quickly. A district attorney will sometimes argue for something called “laches” which means it is impossible to proceed with a second trial due to the loss of witnesses, evidence, and other things that would be important to re-do the trial. However, unless you have new evidence that would support your claim, the odds of actually successfully petitioning for a Writ of Habeas Corpus is quite slim. Because the laws are complex, it’s strongly advised you let a McKinney criminal defense attorney help you with this process.

If you need help appealing your case, trust the advocacy of The Crowder Law Firm, P.C.! Call us today at (214) 981-1441 to request a consultation and get the help you need with your case.
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