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Right to Appeal

Right to Appeal

A defendant has a right to appeal his or her final judgment of conviction and sentence by a trial court to a state’s appellate court. In order to be considered a defendant for purposes of an appeal, the defendant must have been charged with a crime or the defendant must have committed a criminal offense.

A defendant may also be entitled to appeal certain interlocutory orders or non-final orders by a trial court. The defendant may appeal the trial court’s denial of bail or the trial court’s ruling that affects the defendant’s double jeopardy rights.

If a defendant is acquitted of a criminal offense, the government does not have the right to appeal the acquittal. The reason for this is that the defendant is protected under the doctrine of double jeopardy from being prosecuted twice for the same offense. The government’s right to appeal is generally limited to situations where the defendant’s guilt or innocence is not an issue, such as when the government claims that the defendant’s sentence is illegal. The government may have a right to file a cross-appeal when the defendant files an appeal. However, the government’s right to file a cross-appeal is generally limited to situations where the defendant’s claim regarding a trial court’s error is upheld on appeal.

The government is entitled to appeal a trial court’s order that dismisses all or part of the government’s indictment, information, or complaint. However, the trial court’s order must effectively terminate prosecution with regard to the defendant in order for the government to be entitled to appeal.

The government is entitled to appeal a trial court’s order that arrests or modifies a judgment against a defendant. The government is also entitled to appeal a trial court’s order that grants a new trial to the defendant.

If a trial court rules that the government is prevented from prosecuting a defendant under the doctrine of double jeopardy, the government is entitled to appeal the trial court’s ruling. The reason for this is that the government’s prosecution against the defendant is basically terminated by such a ruling by the trial court.

The government is entitled to appeal a trial court’s order that grants a defendant’s motion to suppress evidence. The government may also appeal any ruling by the trial court that results in the suppression of the government’s evidence against the defendant. However, jeopardy must not have attached and the government must certify that its appeal is not being taken for purposes of a delay and that the evidence that has been suppressed is essential to the prosecution of the defendant. The requirement that jeopardy must not have attached means that the trial must not have commenced. Once the trial has commenced, the government is not entitled to appeal the trial court’s order regarding the suppression of evidence because jeopardy has attached.

The government is entitled to appeal a defendant’s sentence on the grounds that the sentence is illegal. An illegal sentence is a sentence where a trial court does not have jurisdiction or where the defendant’s constitutional rights have been violated.

The government may be entitled to file a cross-appeal if a defendant files an appeal of his or her conviction and sentence. However, an appellate court will not enter a ruling on any of the government’s claims of error in its cross-appeal if it has overruled all of the defendant’s claims of error.

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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