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I Was Convicted And Sentenced To Prison After A Jury Trial. What Are My Options?


If you were convicted and sentenced to prison after a jury trial, then you have the option of filing a direct appeal. That means that you can challenge the conviction after you are found guilty and sentenced. Depending on what jurisdiction your conviction arose in, you have a specific period of time in which to file an appeal. In federal court, that time-period is 14 days, and in the Missouri state courts, it is 10 days. The notice of appeal is filed in the court of conviction. There is a filing fee to be paid, but you can proceed without paying the fee. The appeal would then be sent to the state or federal court of appeals.

Regardless whether you were convicted in state or federal court, the issues you can raise on appeal are similar. In a direct appeal, you can raise issues of trial court error, which would be the trial court’s specific evidentiary rulings with which you disagree. For example, if the trial court didn’t properly admit or exclude evidence, then those issues could be raised. You could also have issues dealing with voir dire. A typical voir dire issue is called a Batson challenge, which involves challenging the prosecution’s use of peremptory strikes to exclude a potential juror based on race, ethnicity or sex. Although far from complete, other potential issues for appeal include challenges to the jury instructions, prosecutorial misconduct, suppression of evidence, and the sufficiency of the evidence.

In addition, you can raise issues of sentencing error. This is a little bit more difficult to do in Missouri state court because the judge has total discretion within the statutory range of sentencing. Unless a judge sentences someone outside the statutory range of sentencing, a Missouri court cannot commit the sentencing error. In federal court, however, the sentencing guidelines are used to help the court determine a defendant’s sentence. Although these sentencing guidelines are discretionary, the court’s misapplication of the guidelines can result in the procedural error. Also, a defendant may substantially challenge a federal sentence on appeal as unreasonable.

If a client requests that their attorney present certain evidence during a trial and the attorney fails to do so, then that is not usually grounds for an appeal. This would be a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Such claims cannot be raised in the Missouri state appellate court or federal court on direct appeal. If you are unsuccessful with your appeal, then this is something that would have to be brought in a postconviction proceeding. In a direct appeal, an appellate lawyer is usually limited to raising claims of trial court error and is bound by the transcript from the trial and other court proceedings

Also, the claims that an appellate lawyer can raise may be limited by what claims the trial lawyer preserved. Both state and federal courts have different methods in which the record must be preserved. In Missouri state court, an objection must be made as soon as possible once the issue arises, and then the trial attorney must preserve that issue in what’s called a motion for a new trial. A motion for a new trial is filed after the finding of guilt but before sentencing. In federal court you do not need to file a motion for new trial, however, a trial attorney must still make objections as soon as they arise and give the trial court the ability to rule on them. It’s very important for the trial attorney to properly preserve issues for appeal. If the trial attorney does not preserve an issue for appeal, the appellate attorney can still raise it, but the appellate court does not have to address it. When an unpreserved issued is raised on appeal, the appellate lawyer will ask the court of appeals to review it for plain error. A much higher standard of review than if the issue had been properly preserved.

If I Was Sentenced After A Guilty Plea What Are My Options?

In both federal and state court, most criminal cases are resolved through a plea of guilty. When you plead guilty, you state under oath that there were no underlying errors in the case and that you agree that you are guilty of the charged crime. As a result, your potential issues for appeal are limited. If you enter a guilty plea in Missouri state court, then you can appeal only on two grounds: if the trial court lacked jurisdiction or authority to sentence you, or if you were sentenced outside of the statutory penalty. In federal court, you could potentially challenge your sentence or raise issues that were preserved as part of a conditional plea. If you had a specific agreement with the prosecutor and you ended up with a higher sentence than what was agreed to, then that issue could be raised. In federal court, however, defendants often sign an appeal waiver as part of the plea agreement.

For more information on Post-Conviction Appeals In Missouri, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (314) 282-4188 today.

Kevin L. Schriener, ESQ.

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(314) 282-4188

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