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When can you appeal a criminal conviction?

Under Kentucky law, someone convicted of a crime usually has the right to appeal their case. However, there are a few critical factors that individuals must consider if they wish to pursue an appeal.

Filing an appeal involves several complicated details and steps. One of the first steps involves determining the specific grounds on which individuals can file an appeal. Here is a brief overview of these reasons, so individuals facing a criminal conviction understand their options.

1. There were issues with evidence

Evidence plays a large role in almost every criminal case. Therefore, it often plays a significant role in criminal appeals as well. Individuals could base an appeal on several problems regarding evidence, including if:

  • Police or prosecution mishandled or tampered with evidence
  • Officials suppress relevant evidence to change the outcome
  • There was a lack of sufficient evidence to prove guilt
  • The prosecution did not introduce evidence properly in trial
  • Attorneys or law enforcement discover new evidence after the conviction

2. The trial involved mistakes, errors or misconduct

Unfortunately, mistakes do happen, even in a trial where there is no room for errors. Sometimes, these mistakes are harmless. But if legal mistakes severely impact the outcome of a case, then individuals usually have grounds to appeal. 

Common legal mistakes include:

  • Judges disregarding legal guidelines when making a ruling or sentence
  • Misconduct by prosecutors, such as witness tampering or violating court rules
  • Even defense counsel making serious errors or failing to address misconduct

Individuals facing criminal charges have a right to a speedy trial by their peers, but that speed should not lead to these mistakes. Therefore, substantial mistakes that alter the course of the trial often serve as a valid reason to appeal a conviction. 

3. There was an incident of juror misconduct or other jury issues

There are several rules that Kentucky jurors must follow. If jurors break these rules, individuals can usually file an appeal based on this error as well as the oversight of that error.

They can also appeal if the judge provides the jury with improper instructions. 

All of the reasons for a criminal appeal cover a lot of ground. They offer quite a bit of room for interpretation. That is why individuals facing criminal charges must understand the legal reasons they have to file an appeal, so they know the options they have to protect their future.