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Appealing your DUI conviction

If you have been found guilty of a DUI and you are not willing to accept the sentence given to you by the court or have the conviction on your permanent record, you may be considering appealing the guilty verdict.  An appeal is when you have a higher court review your case to determine if there is some form of legal  issue that would invalidate the guilty verdict rendered by the lower court. First, if you are appealing your conviction, you should do so as soon as you can.  There may be a limited time frame during which you can file an appeal, so you need to be sure not to miss that window.  In addition, the appeals process generally does not happen quickly, so it is wise to get the process started as soon as you can so the appeal can be completed and you can begin to live your life based on the outcome of the appeal. During the appeal, the higher court will not review new evidence.  Rather, they will review the transcript of your case, which is a word-for-word account of what was said during the trial, and all evidence submitted in your case.  In addition, you will submit with the appeal a description outlining why you believe the original verdict was not accurate.  (Likewise, the prosecution will submit a description as to why they believe the original verdict was correct.) Reasons why the higher court may overturn the original conviction include the following:
  • Inadmissible evidence.  Evidence was included in the original trial that should not have been.  For example, if a blood sample was taken from me without my consent and without the police first obtaining a warrant, and the results of that blood sample were entered into evidence in the original trial, then the verdict stemming from that trial is not valid.
  • Insufficient evidence.  The evidence in a criminal trial must be sufficient to convince a person beyond a reasonable doubt of the defendant’s guilt.  If the higher court believes there was not sufficient evidence to reach this standard of guilty, the guilty verdict will be thrown out.
  • Deficient legal defense.  As a part of your trial, you have the right to a thorough representation by an attorney.  If your attorney did not sufficiently protect your rights and it results in you being found guilty, the appellate court may throw out the conviction.
  • Errors by the court.  During a trial, the judge gives various instructions to the jury regarding their responsibilities and what they can and cannot do.  If the judge gives the jury improper instructions, it could result in the jury returning a guilty verdict that is not appropriate.
Any of the above items are reasons that the appellate court may determine you did not receive a fair trial and could result in you winning your appeal.  If the appellate court determines that the evidence was not sufficient to find you guilty, you will be acquitted, which means there will not be another trial.  If the appellate court determines that there was some form of legal error, they will order a new trial.  In the case of a new trial, if certain evidence is no longer available to the prosecution, the prosecution may decide not to go forward with the new trial, because they believe they cannot win. Whatever the circumstances, if you are considering appealing a criminal conviction, you should speak with an attorney.  The process for appealing a verdict in a successful manner is not a simple one, so you will need the expertise of a criminal defense attorney in order to review your case and step through the process properly. The article above was written by Mark J.