Cincinnati Criminal Appeals Attorney
Appealing a criminal case is crucial for many people convicted of a crime. Any mishandling of a case could be a violation of your rights. Joslyn Law Firm was founded by attorney Brian Joslyn, who personally understands what is at stake if you are entangled in the justice system. As a teen, Brian was a victim of police brutality. He was an innocent bystander who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Today, attorney Joslyn is one of the most recognized criminal defense lawyers in Ohio by such organizations as:
- National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys – Nationally Ranked 10 Ten Attorney
- National Trial Lawyers Association – Top 100 Attorneys
- Columbus CEO magazine – Top Lawyer in Columbus Top Lawyer in Columbus
- Top American Lawyer Association — Nominated for Best American Lawyer
- Avvo Client’s Choice Award Nominee
Our firm has handled 20,000 cases, including appeals in Ohio’s court system. We have earned various awards and are a dedicated, nationally recognized, and locally respected firm.
Allow Us to Handle Your Case
If you or a loved one believe that justice was not served the first time, call the office of a Cincinnati criminal appeals attorney. Our legal team understands that sometimes the criminal justice system does not always yield the desired result. An appeals attorney will work with you through this process to try to get a favorable outcome.
A criminal charge can follow you around for the rest of your life, getting in the way of having a successful future. You may be fearful or uncertain of what direction your life will go in, but you are not alone and do not have to navigate the legal process by yourself. If you contact a law firm for legal help, however, you may be able to avoid conviction.
If you want to appeal a criminal conviction in Cincinnati to achieve a better outcome, including release from prison, call Joslyn Law Firm today for a free consultation at (513) 399-6289.
Cincinnati Criminal Appeals Information Center
- Overview of Ohio Criminal Appeals Court
- How the Appeals Process Works
- Basis for Appeals
- Bench Trial Appeals
- Jury Trial Appeals
- Sentencing Appeals
- Appellate Court System in Ohio
- First District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati
- Strategies for Criminal Appeals in Cincinnati
- Resources for Criminal Appeals
- News about Ohio Courts of Appeal
- FAQs about Cincinnati Criminal Appeals
- Cincinnati Criminal Appeals Attorney
Overview of Ohio Criminal Appeals Court
If you do not agree with a verdict from a trial court, you have the right to ask a higher court to review, amend, or overturn the decision. The Ohio courts of appeal consist of a three-judge panel who review the trial court’s decision. If the majority of the three appellate judges agree with you, you win your appeal.
It is your right to file an appeal to:
- Overturn a conviction from a judge or a jury.
- Seek a reduction or modification of your sentence.
- Introduce new evidence that supports your case.
- Suppress evidence used in your trial.
- Request a new trial.
You may file an appeal even if you pled guilty.
Types of Criminal Convictions Subject to Appeal
You have the right to appeal any type of criminal conviction for which you were convicted, including:
- Drug crimes
- Sex crimes
- Violent crimes
- White collar crimes
- Domestic abuse crimes
- Vehicular crimes
- Federal crimes
Basically, all criminal cases (except non-moving traffic violations) and their related sentences may be appealed.
How the Appeals Process Works
Filing an appeal is not exactly a “do-over” for your trial, but it gives you the chance to correct, revise, or reverse a trial court decision that you feel is unjust or unfair.
As the defendant seeking an appeal, you are expected to meet all the requirements and deadlines of the appellate court. That is why your first step might include talking to a criminal defense attorney. Challenging a trial court’s decision is a complex, time-consuming task that deserves the full attention and resources of a knowledgeable attorney. While you are not legally obligated to hire a lawyer for your appeal, it is highly recommended.
Here is what happens in the appeals process:
- You (or your attorney) files a notice of appeal with the clerk of the circuit court where your trial was held (in Cincinnati, this is the Hamilton Clerk of Courts) within 30 days of the verdict or decision.
- This notice of appeal is shared with the prosecution, who also has the right to file a notice of appeal.
- You (or your attorney) files a brief with the appeals court (a brief is a summary of your case, trial, and the verdict).
- The prosecutor files its own brief, because the prosecution likely wants the trial court’s decision to stand.
- The three-judge panel reads the briefs, and then hears oral arguments from both sides.
After reading the briefs, listening to both sides, and considering the facts and evidence, the judges reach a decision in which the majority rules (2-1 or 3-0 majority).
Possible Outcomes for an Appeal
There are three possible outcomes when you file for an appeal. The appellate court can:
- Agree with the trial court’s decision (the decision stands) to convict you or agree with their sentencing guidelines.
- Order the trial court to review its decision because of errors in procedure or other concerns that prevented you from receiving a proper trial.
- Reverse or overturn the trial court’s decision.
The Ohio courts of appeal are designed as a checks and balance system to help ensure that everyone receives a fair trial and that the rules of law are properly applied. While we respect and revere our democratic justice system, it is not without its flaws or errors.
If you believe that you received an unjust conviction or sentence, a Cincinnati criminal appeals attorney can help you right this wrong.
Basis for Appeals
You cannot file an appeal without proper basis just because you do not like or agree with the trial courts’ decision. You must have legitimate concerns and evidence that the trial court failed to properly apply the law in your case.
Each state has its own specific requirements for criminal and civil appeals, but the accepted basis for an appeal usually consists of:
- Error of law: The judge in your case made an error in your case by applying the wrong rule or legal standards to the facts of your case.
- Unsubstantiated decision: The judge in your case failed to make a sound or substantiated decision based upon the evidence and testimony.
- Abuse of discretion: The judge in your case abused his or her authority by allowing or suppressing evidence or testimony; this abuse also applies to flawed or biased instructions given to a jury.
- Ineffective counsel: The attorney who defended you at trial committed gross acts of legal incompetence, such as failing to enter evidence or testimony that supported your alibi.
- Problems with evidence: Evidentiary mistakes are errors made during your trial that include a judge’s improper ruling to include or exclude evidence, or allowing evidence based entirely on its inflammatory properties.
- Plain errors: Our criminal justice system is not perfect; people make mistakes, such as misplacing files or entering an incorrect name or social security number.
A lawyer who understands criminal conviction appeals can identify the problem, error, or issue in your case for which you are seeking an appeal.
Bench Trial Appeals
A bench trial is a trial in which there is a judge but no jury. A judge is expected to be fair and impartial. He or she is also expected to understand and apply the correct rule of law that applies to your case.
You may appeal a final decision made by a trial judge. The most frequently cited reason for appealing a bench trial verdict is abuse of discretion.
Abuse of Discretion as Reason for Appeal
According to the Legal Information Institute (LII) abuse of discretion is defined as: “A standard of review used by appellate courts to review decisions of lower courts…if the discretionary decision was made in plain error.”
Examples of abuse of discretion in a criminal case might include:
- Refusing to allow an important defense witness to testify
- Including or excluding evidence in a way that favors the prosecution
- Making improper comments
- Showing bias through rulings, comments, or even non-verbal cues
- Rushing a procedure without giving both sides enough time to properly present their case
Judges wield a tremendous amount of power, and this authority is to be used at their discretion, given their education, experience, rule of law, and the evidence presented. When judges abuse this discretion, innocent people may suffer. That is when you can fully exert your rights and seek an appeal.
Jury Trial Appeals
Trial by jury is one of our Constitutional rights. Jurists are selected at random and in a criminal trial, are asked to evaluate a defendant as either guilty or not guilty. They are expected to be fair and impartial, and in many cases, juries meet or exceed this requirement.
However, juries can also make wild, unpredictable, and unsubstantiated decisions. This leads to an unjust or unreasonable verdict.
Issues of Law as Reason to Appeal Jury’s Decision
You may appeal a jury’s decision related to issues of law, not to findings of fact. The issues of law that are most often appealed include:
- Disputing the evidence that the jury could hear, read, or witness
- Disputing the claims that the jury can decide
You may also seek to overturn a jury’s decision if there is evidence of:
- Jury tampering (a jurist accepting a bribe or being threatened by the other side)
- Incorrect or biased instructions from the judge
- Gross misconduct (such as being drunk or high during the trial)
- Insufficient instructions on the decision-making process
- Ignoring judge’s orders to avoid outside news about the case or talking to members of the press
You may appeal a sentence handed down by the trial court if it is:
- Unreasonably excessive
Ohio has sentencing guidelines for criminal convictions. These are minimum and maximum sentences as they relate to incarceration, fines, parole, probation, and expungement. The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution also protects you from “cruel and unusual punishments” as well as excessive bail and fines.
Seeking an Appeal for a Sentence
The appeals court has the authority to modify (or to order the trial court to modify) sentences that:
- Are reached on evidence that the jury did not find true beyond a reasonable doubt
- Are vindictive or disproportionate
- Are not preceded by a waiver of the right to counsel
- Are followed by an improper denial of a continuance
You should know that most plea bargains (when you plead guilty, often to a lesser charge) may prevent you from the right to appeal either the conviction or the sentence. In these situations, you may not be able to seek an appeal for your sentence.
Appellate Court System in Ohio
The Ohio Courts of Appeal are established by Article IV, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution. Their jurisdiction is outlined in Article IV, Section 3. There are twelve district courts of appeal throughout the state. Their primary function is to hear appeals from municipal and county courts. Each case is heard and decided upon by a panel of three judges.
The Tenth District Court of Appeals in Franklin County also hears appeals from the Ohio Court of Claims. For Cincinnati and Hamilton County, the cases are handled by the First District Court of Appeals.
Click here to see a map of the twelve districts within the Ohio courts of appeals.
Appellate Judge Requirements
Appellate judges in Ohio are usually elected by voters. Each term is six years, and at the end of this time, a judge can either run for re-election or step down. If there is a vacancy in a non-election year (or if a judge retires or passes away), a new judge is selected by the governor.
The qualifications to run for election (or be considered) for appellate judge are:
- Must be a resident in the court of appeals district
- Must have at least six years as a practicing lawyer in Ohio
- Be under the age of 70
Two appellate justices are elected in each even-numbered year. The term ends on December 31 and begins on January 1 of the year following the election.
First District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati
Appeals in Cincinnati are handled through the First District Court of Appeals in Hamilton County.
As of mid-2021, the appellate judges for the First District are:
- The Honorable Pierre H. Bergeron
- The Honorable Ginger Bock
- The Honorable Candace C. Crouse
- The Honorable Beth A. Myers
- The Honorable Robert C. Winkler
- The Honorable Marilyn Zayas
The First Court of Appeals is located at:
230 East Ninth Street, 12th Floor
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Phone: (513) 946-3500
Fax: (513) 946-3412
Strategies for Criminal Appeals in Cincinnati
While there are no guarantees when you appeal a verdict or sentence, there are certain strategies that can help you maximize your chances of success.
- Filing a motion of appeals on time (within the 30-day deadline) or it will be rejected.
- Collecting transcripts from the trial.
- Having evidence ready in case the appeals judges wish to review.
- Being clear on the grounds of the appeal.
- Talking to a lawyer who is familiar with the Ohio courts of appeals and their process.
Resources for Criminal Appeals
- First District Court of Appeals: A searchable website that shows current court docket, opinions, information about judges, and what to expect in court
- Crime Victim Services: A comprehensive online source including information on protection orders, tips for testifying in court, the appeals process, and state and federal laws that protect crime victims
- Ohio Judicial Conference: A complete listing of Ohio’s jurisdictional districts including directory, publications, legislation enactments, and links to state and local agencies
- Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center: This site offers free legal assistance to crime victims to protect and enforce their rights.
- Local Rules for First District Court of Appeals: This resource on the Court’s website offers information about local rules and processes for the Court.
- Ohio Rules of Appellate Procedure: This resource on the Court’s website offers guidance for many aspects of an appeal.
- Court of Appeals – Helpful Information: The Court offers a quick reference page for terms, local practices, and other FAQs that you might have about the Court of Appeals.
News about Ohio Courts of Appeal
- Ohio Senate Passes Bill to Make Higher Court Races Partisan: Ohio judges currently run for office in partisan primaries but in non-partisan general elections. A new bill passed by the Ohio Senate would make all higher court races partisan, with candidates required to list their party affiliation as a Republican, Democrat, Independent, or other.
- Now-defunct ECOT Continues Appeal of $80 Million Repayment at Ohio Supreme Court: The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT), Ohio’s first charter school, continues to seek forgiveness on an $80 million repayment in funding. ECOT is accused of inflating its enrollment numbers to receive the money before it closed in early 2018.
- Ohio Supreme Court Hears Arguments Tuesday in Moundbuilder’s Appeal: The Ohio Supreme Court will hear an appeal from Moundbuilders Country Club. The private club is hoping to reverse the lower court rulings that allow the Ohio History Connection to reclaim the Moundbuilders golf course property by eminent domain.
FAQs about Cincinnati Criminal Appeals
Q. What is the deadline for filing a motion for appeal?
A. A defendant has thirty days from the lower court’s verdict to file an appeal.
Q. Can you appeal a conviction for a violent crime?
A. You may file a motion for appeal for virtually all types of crimes, except for non-moving traffic violations.
Q. How long does an appeal take?
A. Appeals can take many months, up to a year, or even more. Certain cases may qualify for an accelerated court appearance.
Q. Can the appellate court overturn a conviction?
A. The Ohio courts of appeals can overturn a conviction; they can also recommend modifying a sentence if they feel it is excessive.
Cincinnati Criminal Appeals Attorney
A Cincinnati criminal appeals attorney with Joslyn Law Firm can build a customized appeal to help you have a wrongful or unlawful conviction overturned. You deserve every advantage to set the record straight and regain your life and liberty.
Get a free consultation today: (513) 399-6289.