Legal Options After a Conviction in Texas
The days after a criminal conviction can be some of the worst days in a person’s life. If convicted of a felony, they may have been sentenced to significant prison time. If a misdemeanor, they may be looking at up to a year in jail. They possibly have been placed on probation with onerous conditions. They may be facing a large fine or restitution order. Court costs can be staggering. What legal options do they have?
Your Constitutional Right to Appeal
The first thing to know is that a criminal defendant has a constitutional right to appeal. Unless the right was waived as part of a plea bargain, the state cannot prevent a from appealing their criminal conviction. The defendant must follow the rules in the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure. An experienced appellate attorney knows those rules and can provide valuable guidance.
Deadlines for appeals
A convicted defendant has 30 days to appeal a conviction or file a motion for a new trial. If the defendant wants to file a motion for a new trial, he has 90 days to do so. The 30 and 90-day deadlines are jurisdictional. If a defendant’s notice of appeal is untimely, the Court of Appeals does not have jurisdiction. The defendant can lose his right to appeal. There is a 15-day grace period after the deadline runs. But the defendant must file both a notice of appeal and a proper motion for an extension of time.
A defendant may miss these deadlines if he doesn’t have the advice and assistance of experienced appellate counsel. The only way to appeal a felony after the deadline is to be granted an out of time of appeal. This is done by filing an application for a writ of habeas corpus.
Legal Options After a Conviction: Appealing to The Trial Court
A defendant who files a motion for a new trial can argue to the trial court that the conviction should be reversed without going through a full-blown appeal. Essentially, the trial court reviews its own work to decide whether it made any mistakes that would entitle the defendant to a new trial.
The defendant must file a notice of appeal in the trial court to appeal. This tells the court that the defendant is appealing to the court of appeals. The defendant may also be entitled to bail pending the appeal once he has filed a notice of appeal. A person convicted of a misdemeanor and sentenced to jail has a right to bail pending appeal. With some exceptions, a person convicted of a felony and sentenced to less than ten years can ask for bail pending appeal. Timing is critical, however: once a person is sent to TDCJ (the state prison system), he loses the right to ask for bail during his appeal.
The Court of Appeals
On appeal, with the assistance of an appellate attorney, a convicted person can challenge mistakes or errors that occurred during his trial. He can argue that the evidence is legally insufficient to support his conviction. The defendant could challenge the court’s evidentiary rulings if his trial attorney objected. He can challenge procedural errors that the court committed. This is true sometimes, even if his trial attorney didn’t object.
Call Us to Explore Your Legal Options After a Conviction
A defendant’s attorney can argue that the trial court gave erroneous jury instructions to the jury that caused him to be wrongfully convicted. He can challenge the court’s ruling on pretrial issues, such as the court’s denial of a motion to suppress, a motion to dismiss, or a motion to quash. The defendant’s attorney can challenge the length of his sentence, the assessment of court costs, and the validity of any restitution orders. A board-certified appellate attorney can review the trial record and determine which issues have the best chance of success on appeal.