Friday, January 16, 2015

Understanding the Criminal Appeals Process in Nevada

If you were found guilty of a criminal offense in a Nevada court, you may be able to challenge the court’s decision by filing an appeal. According to NRS 177, an appeal can be used when someone convicted of a crime would like to request that a higher court review the decision of the lower court. 

The appeal is used to determine if there were certain factors present in the case that could overturn the court’s decision. Appeals typically involve showing that legal and factual errors were made during the trial, and these errors had a profound impact on the case’s outcome.

Factors that can lead to a successful appeal include: 
  • Misconduct on the part of the prosecution
  • The evidence failed to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt
  • The jury received improper instructions
  • The judge made errors during the course of the trial
  • Defendant’s legal counsel was so ineffective that it impacted the outcome of the case
  • A law or regulation was applied erroneously
If an appeal is filed based on any of these factors, the higher court will review the trial. During the appeal, no new evidence or information can be provided to the higher court that was not addressed in the original trial. The record of the original trial will be used to determine if any error was made during the prosecution of the alleged crime.

Filing an Appeal: An Overview

If your attorney determines that you have grounds to appeal the ruling of your case, you must act quickly. If you were convicted in district court, your lawyer has 30 days from the date of conviction to begin the appeals process. If you were convicted in federal district court or justice court, your lawyer has just 10 days to start the appeals process.

The Nevada appeals process typically involves the following steps:
  1. Your attorney will file a notice of appeal with the court that handled your trial before the deadline.
  2. The trial court will file the transcripts (“record”) of your original trial with the appellate court. Your lawyer then has 120 days to review the transcripts and create an appellate brief, which is a lengthy document that argues why you should win the appeal based upon laws and past cases.
  3. After your lawyer has submitted the appellate brief, the state’s attorney can file an opposition that challenges the arguments presented in your brief. Your lawyer then has the opportunity to file another brief in response. Based upon the case, your attorney may be allowed to also present an oral argument before the appellate judges in addition to the appellate brief.
  4. The appellate judges will review the briefs and any oral arguments, and then prepare and deliver the court’s decision as a written opinion.
Following an appeal, the higher court can overturn the lower’s court’s decision, acquit the defendant of the charges, order a new trial, or rule that the lower court’s original decision still stands.

If you would like to learn whether you have grounds to file an appeal in Nevada, speak with an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact our skilled team at De Castroverde Law Group to discuss your case and legal options.