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The Successful Appeal Myth
THE SUCCESSFUL APPEAL MYTH
BY BERNARD JOHNSON
In the criminal law forum, a defendant’s decision to proceed to trial is often times a very difficult one, premised upon many factors. Among those factors, is the defendant’s understanding that in the event of an unfortunate conviction, that he or she can pursue an appeal. If that unwelcomed conviction results in the defendant being sentenced to a prison term, often times the contemporaneous mentality of that defendant produces a perpetual echo within their mind that, “it’s alright because I will appeal and win.” Well, let’s visit the myth and flawed thinking of this “appeal syndrome.”
Its not a secret that the costs of criminal defense can be very high, to say the least. Due to this reality, many defendant’s opt to be represented by Public Defenders (free lawyers appointed by the government) either because of their inability to pay for private counsel or their unwillingness to part with the money required to retain a lawyer. For the latterindividual, they seemingly ignore that Public Defenders are, more than not, overworked with a hoard of many cases, and underpaid.
This often spells that their case will not receive the searching, individualized and comprehensive assessment required to obtain an acquittal or an outcome viewed acceptable to the defendant. (The foregoing is not an attempt to slander Public Defenders because many exhibit admirable efficacy, but to convey the reality of the profession.) (See “Why You’re in Deep Trouble If You Can’t Afford a Lawyer,” May 6, 2013, by Hannah Levintova, Jaeah Lee and Brett Brownell.)
Mysteriously, after conviction, many defendants marshal the funds required to retain appellate lawyers to advance their appeals, or are far more consumed with attempting to retain an appellate lawyer than they were at retaining a trial lawyer. And often times, the costs of an appeal are higher or equal to that of the trial proceedings. But the sad truth is that the success rates of appeals in criminal cases are exceeding very low, much lower than trial. It is stated that the success rate on appeal in criminal cases is typically less than 7%, and less than five percent of habeas corpus motions in federal court are successful. (See Crime and Federalism, Odds of Winning on Appeal, November 28, 2005;see also Williams v. Sturm, 110 F.Supp.2d 353, 359 (E.D.Pa. 2000). This is due to the exceedingly stringent and onerous standards of review by the appellate and habeas corpus courts which pose almost insurmountable odds and hurdles to the appellant.
With that said, the only logical decision for a criminal defendant is to seek formidable and comprehensive trial advocacy. Trial lawyers can attack a case on a pretrial basis, not limited to motions to dismiss, motions to suppress evidence, incompetency to stand trial, and severance. In this manner, this form of pretrial advocacy can insure that a defendant doesn’t have to face trial at all, or a trial that is advantageous to his interests.
Moreover, a searing trial lawyer can raise a plethora of legal defenses like self-defense, ack of knowledge or intent, or mere presence (to name a few), or artfully impeach witnesses against the defendant so as to raise reasonable doubt to summon an acquittal.
The reality is, you only get one day in court. You want that day to be your last day in the criminal system. At the Law Offices of Roy Galloway LLC, you can find ease in our representation from the institution of the criminal process, continuing through the trial stage, as our aim is to ensure that the appeal process is a nullity to our clients. Please contact an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney by calling our office today at (717) 737-3300. Your day in court can mean your next day of freedom. Please don’t hesitate to call today.