The criminal justice system in the U.S. is in place to protect innocent individuals from criminal harms. Every year, there are millions of crimes reported and thousands of these cases end up in criminal trials.
For the most part, justice is done and all parties act with integrity. However, this isn’t always the case. Those involved in the criminal justice system, such as judges, prosecutors, law enforcement and attorneys are only human. This means that they are capable of making errors.
If legal errors occurred during an investigation or trial, this could be grounds for a criminal appeal. What are some of the most common legal errors in criminal cases?
Failure to suppress evidence
The prosecution will usually present several forms of evidence to try and prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.This evidence may include witness statements, CCTV footage, DNA evidence and physical evidence obtained from the crime scene.
All evidence has to be obtained fairly. For example, if evidence was seized in a search, then law enforcement should have had a valid search warrant or probable cause. If evidence was presented at trial that did not follow these rules, then it’s possible that it should have been suppressed by the judge.
All defendants have the right to effective legal counsel. This is a protection offered by the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. An example of ineffective assistance of counsel may apply to the previously mentioned scenario of a failure to suppress evidence. It is up to the defense counsel at trial to raise a motion to suppress evidence that has been unfairly obtained.
Criminal appeals aren’t new trials, but they are a potential opportunity to highlight injustice. The appeals process can be complex, which is why it’s so important to have experienced legal guidance behind you.