A criminal conviction can be one of the most devastating events in a person’s life, but our Los Angeles criminal appeals lawyers at Pat Ford Appeals know that a criminal case doesn’t have to end with a conviction. For more than 30 years, attorney Pat Ford has represented clients on appeal and in post-conviction proceedings in Los Angeles and throughout California, and he knows how to act quickly and effectively to give you the best chance at success in your appeals case. The legal team at Pat Ford Appeals is knowledgeable and highly-experienced in all matters related to criminal law, appeals and post-conviction relief in Los Angeles, and we can help you repair your criminal record after a conviction. Contact Pat Ford Appeals today to discuss your case with a knowledgeable Los Angeles attorney who has a proven record of success with criminal appeals.
Professional Criminal Appeals Lawyer Los Angeles
The criminal appeals process can be long and complicated, and unless you are intimately familiar with the law in California and how it applies to your case, you will only be doing yourself a disservice by not hiring a criminal appeals lawyer who has extensive experience handling appeals in Los Angeles. At Pat Ford Appeals, we know that a criminal conviction is not the end of the road and we never stop fighting for our clients’ rights, even after a conviction. It is our top priority to help those who have been wrongfully convicted of a criminal offense or unjustly sentenced to an unreasonably harsh term of imprisonment move on with their lives as quickly as possible after a conviction, and we will do everything in our power to help you get a favorable outcome in your Los Angeles appeals case. We will ensure that you understand every legal remedy available to you under the law and explain in detail the pros and cons of each, so you can make an informed decision about your case and take steps toward obtaining the post-conviction relief you deserve.
Criminal Appeals Los Angeles
Criminal offenses are punished harshly in Los Angeles, and the consequences associated with a criminal conviction can extend far beyond costly fines, a county jail or state prison sentence, and probation. Long after you have served your time in jail or prison and paid the necessary fines, a criminal conviction can still interfere with nearly every aspect of your life, possibly affecting your future job prospects, your child custody and visitation rights, and even your immigration status. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize how devastating the consequences of a criminal conviction will be until after they are convicted and sentenced, which is why many convicted defendants choose to file an appeal or petition for post-conviction relief. In criminal law, post-conviction relief is a term that refers to the various legal remedies that may be available to convicted defendants during the appeals process. The following are some common examples of post-conviction petitions for relief.
Misdemeanor and Felony Appeals
A criminal appeal is a request by a convicted defendant, known as the appellant, to review what transpired during a criminal case, to determine whether a legal error was made, and if there was an error, to determine whether the error caused the defendant any harm. Compared to a “harmless error,” a “prejudicial error” is one that was serious enough to change the outcome of the trial. A misdemeanor appeal in Los Angeles must be filed within 30 days of the trial court’s judgment and a felony appeal within 60 days.
Writ of Habeas Corpus Petitions
If you were wrongfully convicted of a criminal offense and you want to challenge your imprisonment or the conditions of your imprisonment, you can file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. “Habeas corpus” is a Latin phrase that translates to “you shall have the body,” and a writ of habeas corpus is an order from the court requiring that the prison official holding a person in custody physically bring the person before the court and offer an explanation as to why the person is being detained. A petition for a state or federal writ of habeas corpus is typically seen as a last resort for convicted individuals who have already tried and failed to overturn their conviction or sentence on appeal in Los Angeles.
Inmates who are currently serving a sentence in county jail or state prison for a Los Angeles criminal offense can file a petition to have the governor of California commute, or reduce, their sentence. Unlike an appeal, a commutation does not change or reverse a guilty verdict, but it can reduce or eliminate a sentence or make a prisoner immediately eligible for parole if the Board of Parole Hearings determines that the prisoner is ready for release.
SB 1437 Petitions
Sometimes the California legislature implements new laws that change the way certain crimes are charged, prosecuted or punished, and in some cases, these new laws can benefit prisoners who are already serving time for these crimes. This was the case with Senate Bill 1437, which effectively repealed California’s old felony-murder law. Under SB 1437, felony-murder charges can only be brought against a person if a victim died during the course of a felony crime and that person was the actual killer, was a major participant in the felony crime and acted with “reckless indifference to human life,” or assisted, aided or abetted the actual killer in committing the crime of murder in the first degree. SB 1437 petition is also retroactive, which means defendants convicted under California’s old felony-murder law can file a petition to have their murder conviction vacated and their sentence reduced.
AB 2942 Petitions
Another new law that has the potential to benefit convicted defendants in Los Angeles is Assembly Bill 2942, which allows district attorneys to reconsider prior sentences and recommend a sentence reduction in cases where the “inmate’s continued incarceration is no longer in the interest of justice.” This may be appropriate if the inmate was sentenced under outdated guidelines, has been rehabilitated during his or her incarceration, and would benefit from a second chance at freedom.
Los Angeles Criminal Appeals Court
Most criminal appeals in Los Angeles go first to the Court of Appeal. There are six district courts that handle criminal appeals in California and three of the geographic districts are organized into divisions. Appeals in Los Angeles are handled by the Second District Court of Appeal, which is divided into eight different divisions. The main courthouse for the Second District Court of Appeal, which hosts Divisions One through Five, Seven and Eight, is located in Los Angeles, and the secondary courthouse, which hosts Division Six, is located in Ventura. Division Six handles criminal appeals in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, while Divisions One through Five, Seven and Eight handle appeals from Los Angeles County.
Grounds for Appealing a Conviction or Sentence
It is the responsibility of the Second District Court of Appeal to review final decisions made by the trial courts, also known as Superior Courts, in Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura. During appellate review, the appeals court looks for errors of law that prejudiced the defendant, or affected the outcome of the defendant’s case. Such errors typically involve a mistake in understanding or applying the law that deprived the defendant of his or her right to a fair trial. Some common grounds for appealing a criminal conviction or sentence in Los Angeles include the following:
- Prosecutorial misconduct (the prosecutor acted unethically, commented on inadmissible evidence or intentionally misstated the law or evidence)
- Insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict (the jury returned the wrong verdict based on the evidence presented during trial)
- Juror misconduct (the jurors engaged in improper communication with counsel)
- Ineffective assistance of counsel (the defense attorney failed to provide his or her client with competent, effective legal representation)
- Errors made by the judge (the judge gave incorrect instructions to the jury)
If the appellate court finds that an error occurred during your trial and the error affected the outcome of your case, the court can either reverse the trial court’s decision in whole or in part, or send the case back to the trial court for a new trial. If the appellate court finds that no error occurred, or that an error occurred but the error was harmless, the court will affirm the decision of the trial court.
What if My Appeal is Unsuccessful?
If you appeal your criminal conviction and/or sentence in Los Angeles to the appellate court and the appellate court affirms the trial court’s judgment, you can file a petition for review by the Supreme Court of California, which is the highest court in the state. The Supreme Court receives thousands of petitions for review each year and grants fewer than 5% of them, which is why it is so important to ensure that your appeal is as strong as possible during the first round of appellate review, to avoid having to take your case to the Supreme Court. In most cases, the appellate review process ends with the Supreme Court of California’s ruling, whether the court grants or denies review. However, if your appeal is based on issues having to do with federal law or the United States Constitution, you may be able to petition the Supreme Court of the United States to review your case.
Finding the Right Criminal Appeals Lawyer in Los Angeles
Having a criminal conviction on your record is something that can follow you for the rest of your life, adversely affecting you both personally and professionally. That is why you need a Los Angeles criminal appeals lawyer in your corner who understands the law and how it applies to your case, so you can successfully appeal your conviction or pursue some other method of post-conviction relief. Any time you are faced with a criminal conviction in Los Angeles, one of the most important decisions you can make is choosing who will represent you in your case. When you hire Pat Ford Appeals to handle your appeal, we will explore all of the options for post-conviction relief available to you under the law to ensure that your case is as strong and convincing as possible.
If, based on the circumstances of your case, we determine that a direct appeal is in your best interest, we will scour the record from the trial court that heard your case in order to identify any prejudicial legal or procedural errors that deprived you of your right to a fair trial. If a direct appeal isn’t possible or appropriate in your specific situation, we will carefully evaluate your case and pursue the post-conviction remedy that best suits your needs and offers you the best chance of success, such as a state or federal writ of habeas corpus petition or a commutation application. Some of these options for post-conviction relief are time-sensitive, so don’t wait to seek legal counsel. Schedule your free consultation with Pat Ford Appeals today to find out how skilled Los Angeles criminal appeals lawyer Pat Ford can help.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Pat Ford Appeals
During a criminal trial, there are many opportunities for errors to occur that can adversely affect the outcome of the trial and may therefore be grounds for a direct appeal of your conviction or sentence, but there are also other options for post-conviction relief that you may be eligible for, even if you miss the deadline for appeal or your appeal is unsuccessful. If you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime in Los Angeles and you want to appeal the court’s decision, file a petition for resentencing, or pursue some other type of post-conviction relief, contact Pat Ford Appeals as soon as possible. Los Angeles criminal appeals lawyer Pat Ford has dedicated his practice to defending the rights of those who have been wrongfully convicted of criminal offenses or sentenced to excessive terms of imprisonment, and he will fight to get you the best possible result in your case.