If you have been convicted of the crime, “What’s next?” is the big question hanging over your head. A verdict and sentencing in a criminal case, in a sense, represent the end of one chapter in your case and the beginning of another.
Under Indiana law, you have the right to appeal the court’s decision.
How an appeal is different from a trial
An appeal is not a do-over. There are significant differences between a trial and an appeal.
Perhaps the most significant difference is that a trial focuses on questions of fact, but an appeal focuses on questions of law. In an appeal, both sides generally agree on the facts as they were presented at trial. Instead of arguing about exactly what happened at the time of the alleged crime, the two sides in an appeal argue that something was wrong with the legal process of the trial itself.
The appeals court reviews the lower court’s decision, the record of the trial, and new briefs written by the parties. Sometimes, the court will ask for oral arguments as well. If the appeals court decides that the lower court made a mistake in applying the law, it may overturn the lower court’s decision.
Remanding to the lower court
If the appeals court overturns the decision in your case, it will likely remand your case back to the lower court. This means your case goes back to the trial court. Depending on the circumstances, this could result in a whole new trial involving at least parts of your case.
The appeals process can take many months. Defendants may find it frustrating slow and technical. However, it can be absolutely crucial in protecting your rights.