Texas Criminal Appeals Lawyer
Even after a conviction for a criminal offense, help may still be available. The criminal appellate attorneys at Westfall Sellers have helped many people who have been wrongly convicted of crimes (from DWI and intoxication manslaughter, to possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana, to sexual assault, and even to murder) get new trials, reduced bails, lesser sentences, and even acquittals in Texas appellate courts. If you were wrongly convicted or received an illegal sentence, contact the criminal appeals attorneys at Westfall Sellers.
An Overview of the Texas Criminal Appeals Process
There are two main ways to obtain relief after conviction. First, you can file a direct appeal to the court of appeals, followed by a petition for discretionary review to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Next, if unsuccessful on your direct appeal, you may file an application for writ of habeas corpus.
Motion for New Trial Attorneys
To begin, your lawyer may file a motion for new trial in the trial court. A motion for new trial must be filed within 30 days after conviction. A motion for new trial should be carefully drafted. Most often, unless an experienced appellate lawyer, your trial attorney should not file this for you.
Once filed, the trial court has 75 days from the date of conviction to rule on the motion. If new evidence must be presented, the trial court may—but does not have to—grant a hearing. A motion for new trial can raise a number of grounds listed in Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 21.3, as well as two which are not listed: newly-discovered evidence and ineffective assistance of counsel.
If the trial court denies your motion for new trial, you must file a notice of appeal within 90 days of conviction. If your lawyer did not file a motion for new trial, the notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of conviction.
Direct Appeal to the Intermediate Court of Appeals
After notice of appeal has been filed, your case will be sent to the intermediate appellate court. There are fourteen of these courts in Texas. The court reporter from the trial court will prepare a transcript of the trial. You may not raise new facts. You must stick to what was presented to the trial court. This appeal is solely for determining legal errors made by the trial judge.
Once both sides have filed briefs, the court may, but does not always, ask for oral argument. This is when your attorney will argue the case in front of a panel of judges at the court of appeals. The attorneys at Westfall Sellers have experience arguing in almost every appellate court in Texas. If your conviction is affirmed—you lose this appeal—you may file a petition for discretionary review in the Court of Criminal Appeals.
Petitions for Discretionary Review
If your direct appeal is unsuccessful, you may file a petition for discretionary review within 30 days after the intermediate court issues its opinion. Like its name suggests, the Court of Criminal Appeals has the discretion on whether to hear your case. It typically reserves hearing cases unless they involve new legal issues, high profile cases, or there was a dissent in the intermediate court.
If the Court grants your petition, it may then decide the case with or without additional briefing. Like the courts below, you may not present any new facts not contained in the court reporter’s transcript from your trial at the trial court level. The court may reverse the lower court and grant a new trial, or even acquit you of charges and find you were not guilty.
Texas Writ of Habeas Corpus Lawyers
A writ of habeas corpus is one of the oldest concepts known in law. It is sometimes called the “Great Writ.” A writ of habeas corpus allows you to attack your conviction on constitutional grounds. The two most common constitutional grounds are ineffective assistance of counsel and violation of Due Process.
Unlike a direct appeal, a writ of habeas corpus allows you to present new evidence. For example, if you allege ineffective assistance of counsel, you can present evidence that your trial attorney should have, but did not, present in your defense. If you allege false testimony was used against you, you can show why the evidence was false. If DNA or other scientific evidence shows you are actually innocent, you may present that evidence as well.
A state application for writ of habeas corpus is a two step process. The application is first presented to the trial court. The trial hears evidence and makes written findings of fact and conclusions of law. Those are then sent to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Then, the Court of Criminal Appeals decides whether to reject or accept those findings and grant a new trial.
Contact our Experienced Texas Criminal Appeals Lawyers Today!
If you or a loved one have been wrongly convicted, you need an experienced appellate lawyer on your side. The attorneys at Westfall Sellers have won new trials and acquittals for clients after conviction. Waiting or allowing your trial attorney to file motions on your behalf could be devastating to your chances at success. Email or call us at 817-928-4222 today!