What are possible outcomes of a federal appeal?

What are possible outcomes of a federal appeal?

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2022 | Federal Crimes |

If you feel a federal trial did not treat you fairly in convicting you, a possible option is to appeal your conviction and sentence to a higher federal court. Appealing a decision means you try to show there were legal errors during the previous trial that resulted in the wrong outcome.

It is possible a higher court will determine that the lower court was correct in its decision and let the conviction and sentence stand. If not, the Justice Department explains three possible rulings that an appeals court could make.

Reversal of the conviction

In the event a judge finds that the previous trial incorrectly decided the case or that certain factors tainted the trial, the judge could outright reverse the conviction. This may be the most desirable result since overturning the conviction means you would not have to worry about paying fines or serving prison time.

Alteration of the sentence

Another possibility is that a judge decides that the lower court was correct in convicting you, but your sentence was too harsh. The lower court perhaps imposed a sentence that did not follow legal guidelines for your criminal offense or the sentence was unconstitutional. As a result, the appeals judge could reduce your fines and time in prison.

Order a new trial

In some cases, an appeals court finds that the initial trial had problems but the criminal charges still had merit. As a result, the judge orders you to undergo a new trial. This means you would still be at risk for conviction and sentencing, but you would also have a second chance to defend yourself against the charges.

Federal appeals take many different forms. The exact question your legal counsel will argue in an appeal will depend on the circumstances of your initial trial.