The 411 on Appeals & Post-Conviction Relief in Colorado
Appellate advocacy requires a firm understanding of the law and how the law should have been applied in your case. Appeals to a higher court are done to ask the higher court to review the proceedings in the lower court. The key appellate issues after conviction at trial are whether the defendant was properly advised throughout the process, whether the judge in the lower court made any rulings that need to be overturned and such rulings prejudiced the defendant, whether the jury instructions tendered to the jury were proper, were any requested jury instructions denied improperly, whether the defendant had effective counsel, whether the process itself was fair, whether jurors of the same race of the defendant removed by the prosecution, whether jurors who were clearly bias were left on the jury, whether evidence was excluded improperly, whether evidence was admitted improperly, etc. An appeal is truly based on the individual case. As such, it is necessary for an appellate lawyer to review the transcripts of all proceedings to fully grasp whether a legitimate appeal issue exists.
Time is of the essence in appellate advocacy. Following a conviction at trial, a defendant has very limited time to file a Notice of Appeal. Additionally, a defedant may ask for a stay of execution of the sentence pending the result of the appeal contingent upon what type of crime the defendant was convicted of at trial. Our firm founder, Linda Lee, was a Judicial Fellow for the Colorado Supreme Court working under Justice Eid. As such, our firm is very skilled in identifying whether you actually have a valid appeal issue. Just being unhappy with the result may not be enough to win an appeal. The first thing you need to do is order the transcripts from your preliminary hearing, motions hearing, and trial. Once our firm has the transcripts, coupled with a consult with the defendant, it will be easier for the firm to identify whether you have any valid appeal issues.
Sometimes, an appeal is not the right course of action. Post-conviction relief may address some of your grievances. You may need to file for post-convction relief in certain circumstances. For example, if there is newly discovered evidence you may be able to file a Motion for a New Trial. However, to win this motion you new evidence must truly be new and it must be a particular kind of new evidence. Check out the L A W BLOG for more information on newly discovered evidence and how you may get a new trial in your case. If you are on probation, you may file a Motion for Early Termination of that probation. Before filing such a motion, make sure you have completed all the conditions of probation and paid all fines. The other compelling issue besides being in compliance, is whether being on probation is causing harm or prejudice to the defendant.
You may also want to file a Motion to Reconsider Sentence (Rule 35(b) of Colorado Rules of Criminal Procedure). This motion allows the judge to reconsider the sentence originally imposed, but this motion is time-sensitive so it is best to consult an attorney. You may want to file a Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea, if you took a deal in your case. This is a very difficult motion to win but if you meet the requirements, it is possible. Time is of the essence with this motion as well, filing this motion after the plea but before sentencing is best practice.
If you are in Community Corrections and you go to non-residential status, you may be able to file a motion for early termination if you have paid the costs of the residential program in full and you are being supervised on nonresidential status at either a minimum or adminstrative level. In fact, when you meet these requirements, your probation officer is required by law to submit a Petition for Early Termination of Sentence to the court on your behalf. The reality is that although probation officers are required to submit this petition by law, they rarely do it. As such, you can hire an attorney to Petition the Court on your behalf. However, filing the Petition is only half the battle. Once the Petition is filed, there are certain factors the court must consider in determining whether to actually grant the petition. Fighting for your rights doesn't stop once you take a deal or are found guilty at trial. You have constitutionally and statutorily protected rights that our firm can help you fight for after a convction.
Check out the L A W BLOG to see how you may find relief after conviction.