Mississippi Criminal Appeals Attorney

Criminal Appeals: Taking your case to a higher court

Judges can make mistakes. So can juries. In some instances, the decision in your case can be reversed by seeking a Mississippi Criminal Appeal assisted by an informed Mississippi Criminal Appellate Lawyer and an experienced Mississippi Criminal Appellate Attorney. When appealing from lower courts, such as Municipal or Justice Courts, the criminal appeal is made to the County Court of the county where the Justice or Municipal Court sits if there is a County Court in that county. If not, then the criminal appeal is made to the Circuit Court of the county. These criminal appeals are known as criminal appeals for a trial “de novo.” This means that the decision of the lower court is not considered and the case starts over in the County or Circuit Court as if no decision had been made in the lower court. This is because Mississippi Municipal and Justice Courts are not “courts of record.” If your case has originated in the County Court of a county, which is a court of record, a criminal appeal is made to the Circuit Court of that county and the case is decided only on briefs. From there, the criminal appeal is made to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Appeals from Circuit Court and Youth Court are made directly to the Mississippi Supreme Court. In some cases the Mississippi Supreme Court will assign the case to the Mississippi Court of Appeals. In other cases, the Mississippi Supreme Court will decide the case itself. If your case has been assigned to the Mississippi Court of Appeals, once that court renders a decision you have the right to ask the Mississippi Supreme Court to review the decision by a procedure known as a petition for certiorari. The Mississippi Supreme Court is not required to accept the case, as the court must vote to grant the petition. If the petition is granted the Mississippi Supreme Court will then review the decision of the Mississippi Court of Appeals. The Mississippi Supreme Court can reverse the decision, affirm the decision or take other action as it may deem appropriate. In some instances, a state criminal case can be appealed to federal court. There are many reasons that a criminal appeal may be taken in your case. Some of the more common reasons include:

  • The trial court judge may have excluded evidence that should have been presented to the jury.
  • The trial court may have allowed prosecution evidence that should have been excluded.
  • Errors made by the prosecutor, which can include intentional misconduct.
  • Your lawyer at the trial level may have made mistakes which kept you from having a full fair trial.
  • Violation of your state or federal constitutional rights in the arrest, gathering of evidence, or conduct of the proceedings.

Unless the criminal appeal is on a “de novo” basis, the criminal appeal is “on the record” only. This means that the court reporter for the court in which the conviction occurred will transcribe the proceedings as they were taken down before and during trial. Unless you have been granted “pauper” status, you must pay for the cost of the record. The court reporter charges by the page and the clerk charges likewise for each page of the record copied. It can be expensive, particularly if the trial lasted several days or weeks.

As your Criminal Appeal Attorney, The Law Offices of Attorney John R. Reeves, P.C., will read and parse the record looking for reasons why the conviction should be reversed. As your Criminal Appeal AttorneyThe Law Offices of Attorney John R. Reeves, P.C., will consider those reasons in light of careful and thorough legal research which we will undertake. Then as your Criminal Appeal AttorneyThe Law Offices of Attorney John R. Reeves, P.C., will prepare a brief which is filed with the court citing the factual and legal reasons why the conviction should be reversed. The state will then write and file its own brief setting forth why it believes the lower court action should stand. As your Criminal Appeal AttorneyThe Law Offices of Attorney John R. Reeves, P.C., will carefully and thoroughly read and consider the state’s brief and then prepare a reply to that brief setting forth the legal and factual reasons why the state’s brief should be disregarded. No more briefs are allowed unless requested by the court. Either side can ask the court to hear oral argument from the attorneys. The court is not required to allow oral argument but if it does it gives a chance to accentuate to the justices in person why you believe the conviction should be reversed. It’s been said that “you never have a second chance to make a first impression.” As your Criminal Appeal AttorneyThe Law Offices of Attorney John R. Reeves, P.C., will request oral argument and, if granted, be thoroughly prepared to present the strong points of your appeal to the court in the most compelling manner. The Mississippi Supreme Court has 270 days from the date the final brief is filed to render a decision in your criminal appeal. If your criminal appeal was assigned to the Mississippi Court of Appeals, that court has 180 days from the date the final brief is filed to render a decision.

Federal Criminal Appeals

The process for trial and appeal in federal court is similar to that for state court. The court of record for original jurisdiction in federal court is the U.S. District Court. Each state is divided into districts for this purpose. Judges are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate and serve for life. Generally a notice of appeal must be filed within 10 days of the entry of the judgment or order appealed from. A federal criminal appeal is made to the U.S. Circuit Court for the state from which the conviction is appealed. Mississippi is located within the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The 5th Circuit Court is based in New Orleans, Louisiana. However the judges of the court reside in various parts of the circuit and have their offices in the federal courthouses generally where they reside. The court meets on a regular basis and the judges travel to New Orleans to hear arguments and conduct other business. Generally it takes about a year to get a decision from the circuit court. A filing fee must be paid and currently the filing fee for a federal criminal appeal is $455. The circuit court generally considers the cases on briefs only. Unless you have been granted “pauper” status, you must pay for the cost of the record on which the brief must be based. The court reporter charges by the page and the clerk charges likewise for each page of the record copied. It can be expensive, particularly if the trial lasted several days or weeks. According to statistics of the U.S. Courts, approximately 3/4 of the cases in the federal appellate system are resolved without oral argument. It’s been said that “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” As your Criminal Appeal AttorneyThe Law Offices of Attorney John R. Reeves, P.C., will request oral argument and, if granted, be thoroughly prepared to present the strong points of your appeal to the court in the most compelling manner. The federal circuit courts are made up of many judges. However, normally a panel of three judges will decide your federal criminal appeal. Once a decision is rendered by the panel, you have the right to file a petition for a rehearing, which is a request to reconsider the decision, and a petition for rehearing en banc, which is a request that the full circuit court, not just the three judges, hear the federal criminal appeal. There are other possible avenues that can be taken which must be explored in thorough consultation with you. Once the court of appeals is concluded with the case, you can file a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court is not required to grant the petition or hear the case.

Please contact us to arrange for a confidential consultation with a Mississippi Criminal Appeal Attorney and Lawyer.

Call: (601) 355-9600

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