At Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson, we pride ourselves on sticking with our clients through thick and thin. While we have a superior track record of winning cases, we also have specialized attorneys who can be brought in to assist with appeals within Georgia.
Having successfully handled hundreds of criminal and civil appeals in both federal and state appellate courts, we are sought after for our experience and judgment. Our team will provide you with an insightful perspective that can inform an appeal with the best possible prospects for success.
Why You Should Hire an Attorney
To successfully appeal your conviction, it’s essential that the foundation of your original conviction is effectively challenged using the appropriate legal instruments.
An appeal depends upon deconstructing the case that led to your conviction to determine any opportunities through which your conviction can be challenged.
When you are appealing your conviction, the success or failure of your attempt will largely depend upon the decision of the judge. An attorney without appellate experience simply hasn’t been through the process and won’t know what the judge is looking for.
Working with an experienced Georgia appeal attorney supports the best possible outcome in your case. Your attorney will frame the case for the judge the way they want to see it.
Identifying errors and framing them into a successful case for the appeals court will determine the outcome of your case. Appellate attorneys take the time to carefully craft a brief that includes only those arguments that will advance your case and position.
Working with an inexperienced attorney on your appeal can lead to a significant disadvantage, so you must connect with an attorney who has a proven track record of success in the courts of your area.
An experienced Georgia appeals attorney from Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson can help.
How Appeals Courts Differ From District Courts in Georgia
There are generally three main levels of courts:
- First level: District courts (trial courts)
- Second level: Court of Appeals or Circuit courts (for the federal circuit)
- Third level: The Supreme Court (in both states or for the entire United States)
In a district (trial) court, a judge tries a case, overseeing both prosecution and defense, and presiding over a jury that will arrive at the verdict.
The assigned task of an appellate court, however, is to determine whether or not the law was applied correctly at trial. Appeals courts consist of a panel of judges and do not use a jury. They don’t retry cases, listen to new evidence, or hear witnesses testify.
Rather, they rule on whether the previous proceedings were judged properly in terms of legal procedure.
The skills necessary for effective oral advocacy may be different than the skills to persuade a jury. There are three ways an appeals court can rule on the circuit court’s initial verdict:
- Uphold the original decision
- Reverse the decision (such as from a guilty verdict to a not guilty verdict)
- Remand the case (send it back to the lower court) with instructions about how the lower court should reconsider the case
For instance, an appeals court might remand a case because it has determined that the judge committed a procedural error during the trial, such as excluding admissible evidence or ruling on a motion incorrectly.
Appellate courts review the procedures and decisions in the trial court to make sure that the proceedings were fair and that the proper law was applied correctly.
How High-Stakes Appellate Representation Differs From Typical Defense
Our appeals attorneys are at a great advantage in appellate courts because they are well-trained in appeals techniques and have experience with appellate venues. If you have received an adverse ruling during litigation, our talented team of defense attorneys is prepared to protect your right to a just trial.
There is a world of difference between the trial courts and the appeals courts. Each requires an entirely different strategy to achieve success. Within the trial courts, lawyers present evidence on behalf of the state and the client and use legal arguments to persuade the judge or the jury.
Within the appeals court, lawyers are instead simply arguing legal and policy issues before a judge or group of judges.
Winning a case at trial depends upon the assembly of evidence and presentation of a case that falls short of the standard of proof for the crime that you are being charged with. This can be achieved through effective evidence, convincing arguments, or both.
In the appeals court, these skills are secondary to knowledge of the law. Your experienced appellate attorney from Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson knows what it takes to present a successful case to the courts in your area.
How Cases Are Won on Appeals in Georgia
No matter how you slice it, winning an appeal is challenging. Although a great many cases are appealed, appeals are only successful a small percentage of the time.
To give yourself the best possible chance of winning your case on appeal, you must:
1. Engage the Services of an Experienced Appeals Attorney
This is the first and most significant step you can take. Working with a trial attorney on your appeal could lead to missed steps, mistakes, and errors that ultimately impact your freedom.
Attorneys are a lot like doctors, and just as you wouldn’t go to an eye doctor for a brain problem, going to a non-appellate attorney for help with your appeal is unwise.
Once you do your due diligence in searching for the right appeals attorney, you’ll find that
Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson is one of only a few practices that has attorneys with the appropriate credentials.
Our team is especially well-versed in the appeals process and has a track record showing that the aforementioned credentials have repeatedly been put to good use.
2. Identify Sound Grounds for Appeal
As your defense attorneys, we’ll carefully evaluate the chances of winning your case on appeal and make our decision accordingly.
Appeals can’t be made simply because we think the verdict at the initial trial was unfair. We know how to find and develop the best arguments for success, such as improperly admitted evidence, incorrect jury instructions, or lack of sufficient evidence to support a verdict.
- Faulty evidence – One of the most effective ways to overcome a conviction at trial is by demonstrating that the evidence that led to your conviction was faulty.
For a conviction to be proper, and to stand against an appeal, it must be based on evidence that was collected in line with the Constitution and maintained in line with the standards of your area.
Any failure in terms of the validity of evidence could lead to the overturning of your conviction, so long as the appeal is in the hands of an effective legal advocate.
- Unclear jury instructions – When you are being charged with a crime and a jury is deciding upon whether or not you are guilty, it is absolutely essential that the jury instructions provided are both clear and proper.
When the jury is presented with unclear instructions, they may not fully understand every element of the crime that they are being asked to consider.
If the jury was improperly instructed, you could be able to overturn the conviction that resulted from the unclear instructions.
- Improper sentencing – While television might lead you to believe that judges have almost god-like powers, in practice, this is simply not the case.
Judges are bound by sentencing guidelines when they determine whether to deprive you of your freedom and/or money and for how long and/or how much. When you receive an improper sentence, this can be used toward supporting the success of your appeal.
Identifying solid grounds for your appeal before getting started is the best way to maximize your investment. Working with an inexperienced attorney who builds your case as you go might seem like the most cost-effective way to get started.
However, it also places you at risk of paying more in the long run in addition to losing your appeal.
The experienced Georgia appeals attorneys from Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson will sit down and review your case with you, considering our chances before launching a full-scale appeal.
We want you to be comfortable with your choices, and we also want to win. Therefore, we take the time to carefully analyze cases so we have the best possible chance of success on those we see through.
What happens after winning an appeal?
Achieving success on your appeal is the goal and ideal outcome, but what happens next?
If you have made the wise choice to work with one of our Atlanta or Savannah criminal appeals lawyers and your appellate case was a success, there will still be a few more boxes to check.
While it would be ideal if you were immediately relieved of all impacts of your conviction, some aspects of the process will take time. Your attorney helps you every step of the way to move through the process.
In Georgia, your appeal will generally result in one of three possible outcomes:
- Your sentencing is altered or decreased in duration
- Your case is dismissed completely
- Your case is set to be tried again
Complete dismissal of your case is the ideal outcome that we work toward. Through effectively challenging the evidence and the grounds of your initial conviction at trial, it is possible for the entire conviction to be tossed.
This enables you to move on with your life without the lingering impact of a criminal record and can help you to get back to normal faster.
A decrease or reduction in your sentence is the next-best outcome in your case and is possible when the weight of the evidence of your initial trial was lacking. Determining this is achieved through a careful analysis of the evidence as it was presented in the initial case, and to identify opportunities to challenge or remove it altogether.
When your case is set to be tried again, it will function much like a duplicate of the initial case. What this means for you and your attorney is that new evidence cannot be submitted, and whatever was present in the initial case is what the second trial will be limited to.
If your initial trial resulted in a conviction with your initial criminal defense lawyer, it may be time to consider changing your attorney. An experienced appellate attorney will carefully review the outcome of your initial case and determine the ideal path to take on your appeal.
Knowing what the best choice to make is concerning your appeal will depend upon the unique facts and circumstances of your case. The appeals process is complex and for many criminal defense attorneys, is not a primary focus of their practice.
Choose an attorney with a proven record in the appellate courts to support the best possible outcome in your case.
Contact Our Aggressive Georgia Appeals Attorney
If you received an incorrect verdict at trial, contact the attorneys at Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson. We’ll bring our considerable experience to your case and help you obtain the just treatment you are entitled to receive.
Courts aren’t always perfect, and judges and juries do make mistakes. You shouldn’t be held accountable for crimes that the state failed to meet their burden of proof on, and your Atlanta criminal appeals lawyer can help ensure that this doesn’t happen.
For immediate legal assistance, call (404) 891-9150 for Atlanta and (912) 867-9140 for our Savannah office.