The day you or a loved one is convicted of and sentenced for a criminal offense will likely be one of the worst days of your life, but it is important to remember that a criminal conviction doesn’t have to be the end of the road for you and your family. Depending on your specific situation, you may be able to appeal the conviction and/or the sentence, or file a petition for some other type of post-conviction relief. At Pat Ford Appeals, we have represented thousands of clients in criminal appeals, commutation applications, writ of habeas corpus petitions and other post-conviction petitions, and we are prepared to put our skill and expertise to work for you. Contact reputable Sacramento criminal appellate lawyer Pat Ford as soon as possible after your criminal conviction to find out how we can improve your chances of success.
Criminal Appeals Lawyer Sacramento Metro Area
The California criminal justice system was established as a means of investigating crimes, prosecuting, convicting and punishing the guilty, and protecting the innocent, but the system isn’t infallible, and the outcome of a criminal trial isn’t always what it should be. Sometimes mistakes are made that result in innocent people being convicted of crimes they didn’t commit or sentenced to a term of imprisonment that is excessive or overly punitive, which is why there are laws in place that provide convicted defendants with a second chance at justice in cases where a miscarriage of justice has occurred.
At Pat Ford Appeals, we know how traumatic a criminal conviction can be for everyone involved, and we have dedicated our practice to protecting the rights of those who have been wronged by the criminal justice system, representing their best interests and helping them pursue the legal remedy they deserve. Sacramento criminal appeals attorney Pat Ford has more than 30 years of experience representing clients on appeal and in post-conviction proceedings in the Sacramento Metro Area and throughout California, and he knows what it takes to win an appeal or get a post-conviction petition granted. During the course of his career in criminal defense and criminal appeals, Pat Ford has earned a reputation for aggressively and competently representing the rights of the criminally accused and convicted, and he will help guide you through every step of the post-conviction process, to ensure that your rights are protected and your case is as solid and convincing as possible.
Criminal Appeals Sacramento Metro Area
A criminal conviction is a terrifying experience, especially for those who have little to no experience with the criminal justice system, and if you have been convicted of a crime in the Sacramento Metro Area, you probably feel like your life is over, but a conviction doesn’t have to be the end of the line for you. Even after a conviction, you are still provided important rights under California law, including the right to seek a legal remedy from the court by filing an appeal or a petition for post-conviction relief. Generally speaking, the term “post-conviction relief” refers to the wide range of legal remedies that may be available to those who have been found guilty of a crime at trial, based on the specific facts of their case. In California, those legal remedies include the following.
If you have recently been convicted of a crime in the Sacramento Metro Area, you may be able to appeal the conviction itself or the sentence imposed by the court. In criminal law, an appeal is a request for a higher court, in this case an appellate court, to reverse the judgment of a lower court, in this case a trial court or superior court, based on legal errors. You can appeal either a misdemeanor or felony conviction in the Sacramento Metro Area, but there is a strict timeline for filing an appeal – within 30 days of the trial court’s judgement for misdemeanors and within 60 days for felonies – and if you miss the deadline, you could forfeit your right to appeal forever.
A writ of habeas corpus petition may be an option for you if the deadline for a criminal appeal has passed or your appeal was unsuccessful, and you want to challenge your imprisonment or the conditions of your imprisonment. “Habeas corpus” is a Latin term that means “produce the body,” and a writ of habeas corpus is a court order requiring the custodian of an imprisoned individual to physically bring the individual before the court and explain why he or she is in custody. When you file a writ of habeas corpus petition, you are requesting a specific remedy from the court, typically a release from imprisonment, relief from a sentence that is unconstitutional, or a change in the conditions under which you are serving your sentence.
Another type of post-conviction relief that may be available to inmates serving a sentence in county jail or California state prison for a criminal offense at the state level is a commutation of sentence. In criminal law, a commutation is the substitution of a lesser penalty for the penalty handed down by the court after a criminal trial results in a conviction, and commutations in the Sacramento Metro Area can only be granted by the governor of California. Unlike a criminal appeal, a commutation does not overturn a criminal conviction, but it can reduce or eliminate a sentence or make an inmate immediately eligible for parole.
Senate Bill 1437 Petitions
One of California’s toughest and most controversial criminal laws was its former felony-murder law, which made it possible for prosecutors to bring murder charges against accomplices to felony crimes where a victim was killed during the commission of the underlying felony, even in cases where the accomplice had no intent to kill or wasn’t directly involved in the killing. In September 2018, Senate Bill 1437 was passed and the bill amended the infamous felony-murder law to eliminate its use in most cases where a defendant is involved in a felony crime that results in the death of a victim, unless the defendant acted with malice, was the actual killer, aided or abetted the commission of first-degree murder, or was a major participant in the underlying felony and acted with “reckless indifference to human life.”
Before Assembly Bill 2942, only the Board of Parole Hearings could recommend a change to a defendant’s sentence after a criminal conviction. But since AB 2942 was passed in 2018, district attorneys now have the discretion to reevaluate past cases and recommend a sentence reduction for inmates serving unfairly long sentences in California. As Assemblymember Phil Ting, the author of AB 2942, put it, “District attorneys have found that certain prison sentences, upon further review, are no longer in the interest of justice. Let’s give them a tool to revisit cases in which defendants were sentenced under outdated guidelines, have been rehabilitated and would benefit from a second chance.”
Sacramento Metro Court of Criminal Appeals
California has six district courts that handle criminal appeals from the superior courts, and appeals from the Sacramento Metro Area are heard by the Third District Court of Appeal. The Third District is located in Sacramento and it has jurisdiction over appeals from Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo and Yuba Counties.
What if My Appeal is Unsuccessful?
If you have been convicted of a criminal offense in the Sacramento Metro Area, and you believe the conviction and/or sentence handed down by the court occurred because of an error that took place during the pre-trial investigation, trial or sentencing hearing, you can appeal the conviction and/or sentence to the Third District Court of Appeal. During an appeal, the appellate court will review the trial record to determine whether any errors of law or procedure were made that were prejudicial, meaning they affected the outcome of your case. If a prejudicial error is discovered by the appeals court, the court will either reverse the ruling in whole or in part or remand the case back to the superior court for a new trial. If you aren’t satisfied with the ruling of the appellate court, you may be able to petition the Supreme Court of California to hear your case, but keep in mind, the Supreme Court has no obligation to grant review, which is why your appeal needs to be as strong as possible the first time around. In some cases, you may even be able to request a review of your case by the Supreme Court of the United States, if your case involves issues that have to do with federal law or the United States Constitution.
Grounds for Pursuing an Appeal or Post-Conviction Relief
The type of legal remedy you are entitled to following a criminal conviction depends a great deal on the unique circumstances of your case, which is why we always recommend hiring an attorney who has experience handling criminal appeals in the Sacramento Metro Area and can advise you on which course of action gives you the best chance of success. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may be able to file a criminal appeal or a petition for post-conviction relief based on the following grounds:
- Insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict
- Juror misconduct
- Prosecutorial misconduct
- Ineffective assistance of counsel
- Sentencing error
- Evidence improperly admitted or excluded
- A violation of your constitutional rights
- No jurisdiction over the case
- Wrongful conviction
- Discovery of new evidence that points towards your innocence
- Unconstitutional prison conditions
- Wrongful imprisonment
- An unfairly harsh sentence not supported by the facts or the law
Hiring a Criminal Appeals Lawyer Sacramento Metro Area
If you have been convicted of a criminal offense in the Sacramento Metro Area, and you believe the conviction and/or the sentence handed down by the court to be unjust, it is your right to fight the court’s judgment by filing an appeal or petitioning for some other type of post-conviction relief, and it is our objective at Pat Ford Appeals to knowledgeably represent you in that fight. There is a strict timeline for criminal appeals and certain other types of post-conviction relief, and you don’t want to miss your opportunity to appeal your conviction or sentence or obtain the legal remedy you believe you are entitled to, so don’t wait to retain the services of practiced Sacramento Metro appeals attorney Pat Ford. When you hire Pat Ford Appeals, we will carefully review your case to determine whether you are eligible for a criminal appeal or another post-conviction petition for relief and ensure that you understand your rights and options under the law. Just because you have been convicted of a crime doesn’t mean you have to give up your rights. Our legal team at Pat Ford Appeals will stand by your side through every step of the criminal appeals process and ensure that you get the best outcome possible based on the specific facts of your case.
Contact Pat Ford Appeals Today for Legal Help
Believe it or not, mistakes are made all the time in criminal cases. Jurors sometimes return the wrong verdict, judges can make bad rulings, prosecutors can engage in unlawful behavior and even defense attorneys can fail to provide their clients with effective legal assistance during a criminal trial, any of which factors can result in an unfair outcome for the defendant. If you believe you have been wrongfully convicted of a crime in the Sacramento Metro Area, if the judge in your case handed down an unfairly harsh sentence that is disproportionate to the criminal offense, or if you are being unlawfully detained in violation of your rights, you may be able to pursue post-conviction relief through a criminal appeal, habeas corpus petition, commutation application, SB 1437 petition or AB 2942 petition, and whatever legal avenue you choose, Sacramento Metro criminal appeals lawyer Pat Ford can help. Contact Pat Ford Appeals as soon as possible for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation to review your case.