Last week I addressed the trial process of a criminal proceeding. If you missed it, previous articles in this series can be found below.
As discussed, the state bears the burden of proof in criminal matters and must prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. This holds true for all elements of the crime. During trial, once the state rests its case, the defendant is able to ask the court to throw the case out because the state has not met its burden of proof. If the case is not thrown out, the defense is then allowed to present its case. Once both sides have presented their case, the defense can again ask for the case to be dismissed. If it is not dismissed, then the case goes to the jury to determine the verdict.
If the defendant is found guilty, he or she will be subject to sentencing and the judge may hear additional evidence at that time. After the defendant is sentenced, the appeals process begins. Depending on the crime and what happened at trial, the defendant may be able to raise various issues on appeal. The primary areas of appeal are 1) if the constitutional rights of the defendant were violated during the introduction of evidence; or 2) if the introduction ran contrary to the rules of evidence.
The appeal process may be the most important part of the entire criminal process and is subject to rigorous time limitations. Once a defendant has been convicted, it is essential that his or her legal representation be well versed in the criminal appeals process. Because of this, it is important to take great care and diligence to find the proper legal representation any time a person is accused of a crime.
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