Criminal Appeals Attorneys in Myrtle Beach, SC
If you have been convicted of a crime in SC, the Myrtle Beach criminal appeals attorneys on the Axelrod team may be able to help you file an appeal and ask a higher court to overturn your conviction.
With few exceptions, you have only ten days to file your Notice of Appeal. If another law firm handled your trial, you should contact them immediately and request in writing that they file your Notice of Appeal on your behalf, and then contact our office for a consultation.
Why Call the Criminal Appeals Lawyers at Axelrod and Associates?
If you call the criminal appeals attorneys on the Axelrod team for help overturning your conviction, we will:
- Meet with you to discuss your case and to determine whether our firm is the right fit for you,
- Obtain your trial or plea hearing transcripts, your trial or plea attorney’s file, and the evidence that was used against you,
- Identify and research all possible grounds for appeal in your case,
- Draft and file your appellate briefs with the appropriate appellate court, and
- Argue your case to the appellate court when appropriate (appellate courts sometimes decide cases on the briefs without oral argument).
Our criminal appeals lawyers have the experience you need to maximize your chances of a successful appeal – including criminal trial practice, criminal appeals, post-conviction relief actions, and oral argument before SC’s appellate courts.
When Can You File an Appeal after a Criminal Conviction?
If the trial judge, plea judge, or the judge who decided your pretrial motions made a legal mistake – an “error of law” – during your criminal proceedings, you can file what is called a “direct appeal” to the next higher court.
If the higher court finds that an error of law was committed that affected the outcome of the trial, they will reverse the conviction (or, in some cases, reverse the sentence but not the conviction) and send the case back to the lower court (“remand” the case) for a new trial, a directed verdict of acquittal, or the appropriate remedy based on the issue that was reversed.
Examples of Grounds for Appeal after a Criminal Conviction
Some examples of errors of law that would be grounds for appeal include:
- Denying a motion to suppress evidence that was obtained in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights,
- Allowing inadmissible testimony at trial,
- Refusing to admit testimony that was admissible,
- Making incorrect rulings on objections by either side,
- Improperly qualifying an expert witness,
- Improperly refusing to qualify an expert witness, or
- Any other ruling that was incorrect and could have affected the outcome of the trial, plea hearing, or sentencing hearing.
How Do I File an Appeal After a Criminal Conviction?
You have ten days to file your Notice of Appeal (with some exceptions), or you will lose your right to file a direct appeal. The exact procedure for appealing a criminal conviction depends on the court from which you are appealing.
Magistrate or Municipal Court Criminal Appeals
If you were convicted in the magistrate or municipal court, your appeal must be filed in the Circuit Court of Common Pleas for the county in which you were convicted, served on all parties, and the magistrate or municipal court judge should provide a record of the proceedings to the Circuit Court.
Note that, in most magistrate and municipal courts, there is no court reporter present – it is your responsibility to 1) bring a court reporter to your trial if you want a transcript for purposes of appeal, and 2) ensure that the lower court judge forwards their “return,” or record of the proceedings, to the Circuit Court.
General Sessions Criminal Appeals
If you were convicted in the Court of General Sessions, your appeal must be filed in the SC Court of Appeals. There are some exceptions, such as when the issues on appeal deal solely with a constitutional question or another issue that would give the SC Supreme Court jurisdiction.
There are detailed appellate court rules that dictate how the appeal is to be filed and the format of the Record on Appeal and the appellate briefs.
FAQ for Criminal Appeals Attorneys in Myrtle Beach
If you have been convicted of a crime in SC’s criminal courts, you may have questions about how the appeals process works. Our intent is to provide general information here, and you should contact your SC criminal appeals lawyer on the Axelrod team immediately for answers and advice that is specific to your case.
Should I Hire a Different Attorney for My Appeal?
You can use the same attorney for your appeal that represented you at trial. As a practical matter, however, many defendants may not be pleased with their trial lawyer after they have been found guilty and will seek new counsel for their appeals process.
Even if you intend to retain new counsel for your appeal, you should immediately request in writing that your trial attorney file your Notice of Appeal on your behalf – with some exceptions, you only have ten days from the date of conviction to file your Notice of Appeal.
Should I File a Criminal Appeal or a PCR Action?
This depends on the circumstances of your case.
Most people will file their direct appeal first, and then file a post-conviction relief (PCR) action later if their direct appeal is unsuccessful – this allows you to include any claims of ineffective assistance of counsel on the part of your appeals attorney, as well as your trial attorney, in your grounds for PCR.
In some cases where there are no grounds for direct appeal, but there was ineffective assistance of counsel, it may be appropriate to file your post-conviction relief action first.
What is “Harmless Error?”
With some exceptions, the appellate court will only reverse the conviction if the errors committed by the lower court could have affected the outcome at trial. If the lower court committed an error of law but there was still “overwhelming” evidence of guilt, the appellate court might find that the lower court’s mistake was “harmless error” and affirm the conviction.
If I Lose My Criminal Appeal in the SC Court of Appeals What’s Next?
If you are convicted in the magistrate or municipal court, you can file a direct appeal in the Circuit Court. If the Circuit Court denies your appeal, you can then appeal that decision to the SC Court of Appeals.
If you are convicted in General Sessions Court, you can file a direct appeal in the SC Court of Appeals.
In either case, if the SC Court of Appeals denies your appeal, you can file a “Petition for a Writ of Certiorari” in the SC Supreme Court. You have a right to file one direct appeal to the SC Court of Appeals, but you must ask permission for the SC Supreme Court to hear your case. If they “grant cert,” you then proceed to file your appellate briefs and argue your case to the SC Supreme Court.
If I Lose My Criminal Appeal in the SC Supreme Court What’s Next?
If the SC Supreme Court denies your appeal, you may have several options:
- You can file your post-conviction relief (PCR) action based on ineffective assistance of counsel,
- You can file a petition asking the US Supreme Court to hear your case if one or more of your issues raises a question of federal law, or
- You can file a habeas petition in the federal court – note that you must have exhausted all state remedies before you can petition the federal court, including post-conviction relief.
Can the State Appeal My Acquittal?
The State cannot appeal an acquittal, whether it is an acquittal by a jury or a directed verdict of acquittal by the trial court – that would be double jeopardy.
The State can appeal other issues, such as when the trial court grants your motion to suppress key evidence that is necessary for them to proceed to trial.
The State can also file a cross-appeal on certain issues when you file a direct appeal after a conviction.
If you have been convicted of a crime and believe you have grounds for appeal, you should immediately file your Notice of Appeal and contact the Myrtle Beach criminal appeals attorneys at Axelrod and Associates for a free consultation to find out how we can help.