Grounds for appealing a criminal conviction

When a Massachusetts resident is convicted of a crime, they may think they have no more legal options to avail, but this is not the case. It may be possible for a convicted person to appeal the court's rulings and findings, but the appeal must be based on errors made at the lower court's level. These errors must not be harmless-it has to be demonstrated in court that the error is substantial. So what is a substantial error-one that affects the convicted person's rights?

A plain error is one that affects the defendant's substantial rights, even though it was not brought to the court's attention during the original trial. A common example of a plain error is a miscalculation of the sentence being awarded after a conviction and the appellate court can send the case back down for re-sentencing.

A more difficult ground for an appeal is to demonstrate an insufficient weight of evidence. However, this is more difficult to prove because appellate courts do not actually get to hear witness testimony or view the presentation of evidence, and therefore are not in the best position to evaluate the weight of evidence.

There are also other grounds for appealing the conviction and it is important to know where one's case falls. An experienced criminal defense attorney can review a convicted individual's case and determine how to best proceed with their appeal and assert their rights. Since an appeal has to be filed in a timely manner, it is important to move fast to ensure the right is not lost.

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