Can You Appeal a Conviction if You Plead Guilty?

Posted on Wednesday, January 29th, 2020 at 7:47 am    

Most criminal cases end when the accused enters a negotiated guilty plea to specific charges. Unfortunately, many people who are completely innocent of wrongdoing end up pleading guilty because they don’t believe they can prove their innocence in court.

However, if you or a loved one pled guilty to a crime despite being innocent, the fight is not necessarily over. You can still file an appeal after a guilty plea, but you will need to demonstrate that the plea itself was not “knowing, voluntary, and intelligent.”

The window for filing an appeal is very short, and there are few exceptions. For this reason, if you are considering an appeal, you need to act immediately. Your lawyer will only have a few weeks to review your case file and show cause to file an appeal after a guilty plea.

With extensive appeals experience and a record of overturning unjust convictions, at Spolin Law P.C., we are ready to help you file an appeal today. Call us at (310) 424-5816 for a free consultation about your case.

Appeal Options After a Guilty Plea

In most cases, a defendant will enter a plea of guilty after reaching an agreement with the prosecutor. This plea agreement will usually contain provisions waiving your right to appeal on certain issues.

The provisions are binding, but in some exceptional cases a judge may be willing to allow an appeal to proceed even if you’ve waived your right to do so.

In general, an appeal filed after a guilty plea might raise the following:

  • The defendant was lied to about the consequences of the plea by his lawyer.
  • The defendant was under mental impairment when he/she took the plea.
  • The defendant was not informed of certain rights by the court.
  • There were other similar issues that relate to the validity of the plea itself.

It’s important to note that you cannot present new evidence in an appeal. The point of an appeal is for the appeals court to check that the trial court gave you a fair proceeding based on the evidence available at the time. Nor can you challenge a guilty plea conviction after based on an improper suppression of evidence, police or prosecutorial misconduct, or if a harsh sentence was issued.

So if you pleaded guilty to a crime, and then later learn of some new exculpatory evidence, your best option may be to file a writ of habeas corpus.

New California Laws Can Reduce Sentences after a Guilty Plea

Recent changes to California law make it easier for people to obtain sentence reductions after a guilty plea. These do not involve overturning the case but, rather, involve asking for a reduced sentence based on a new law or based on the behavior of the client after conviction.

Senate Bill 1437 changed the state’s definition of felony murder, so that only a major participant in the underlying felony can be convicted of murder for a death that resulted from that felony. The bill specifically allows people who pleaded guilty to receive a reduction or cancellation of their felony murder sentence.

Another law, Senate Bill 2942 actually allows you to by-pass the appeals process to obtain a modification or cancellation of your sentence. This law gives District Attorneys the possibility of requesting a resentencing hearing if they believe your sentence doesn’t serve the interests of justice. Additionally, you may file a petition to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and request a resentencing.

How a California Appeals Lawyer Can Help

If you felt compelled to plead guilty to a crime that you did not commit or that you entered an invalid guilty plea, you may still have options. California law gives you the option of withdrawing your guilty plea, appealing your conviction, pursuing a writ of habeas corpus, or petitioning the CDCR for a resentencing hearing. Regardless of what remedy best applies to your case, the assistance of an experienced appeals lawyer will be essential.

For a free consultation about your options after pleading guilty to a crime, call Spolin Law P.C. today at (310) 424-5816 for a free consultation.


Spolin Law Hires Former Prosecutor Caitlin Dukes to Join Criminal Appeals Practice

Posted on Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020 at 11:34 am    

Spolin Law is happy to announce the hiring of Caitlin Dukes, a former prosecutor with a background working on both sides of the criminal courtroom.

Ms. Dukes, a former Deputy District Attorney, also has experience working in federal and state courts, including for Federal District Court Judge James Knoll Gardner and for Pennsylvania Supreme Court Judge J. Michael Eakin. Prior to working in the courts, she spent time working for the United States Department of Homeland Security, assisting in the implementation of Presidential Policy Directive 8 for National Preparedness under President Barack Obama.

Spolin Law Attorney Caitlin Dukes

Attorney Caitlin Dukes

As a prosecutor, Ms. Dukes handled hundreds of felony and misdemeanor criminal cases, including multiple jury trials. She brings to Spolin Law her experience described above, as well as other experience working on the defense side, representing wrongfully accused criminal defendants as an Assistant Public Defender and then as a successful private defense attorney.

Ms. Dukes is admitted to practice law in California, New York, and Pennsylvania.

For more information about Ms. Dukes or any of the attorneys at Spolin Law, call our office at (310) 424-5816.


Will I Be Released if I Win My Appeal?

Posted on Friday, January 17th, 2020 at 7:45 am    

If you’ve been convicted of a crime in California, filing an appeal could be your key to freedom. But the process isn’t as straightforward as you may think. One of the most common questions we get from our clients is: “Will I be released if I win my appeal?”

Unfortunately, the answer is often no. Although it is possible to obtain a provisional release from prison or jail while the appeal is pending, the final appeal order doesn’t usually make release permanent. In most cases, the appeal will order the trial court to give you a new trial or sentencing hearing–and if you’re successful in those proceedings, you can be permanently released from incarceration.

The appeals process moves fast in California. The success of an appeal typically depends on your lawyer’s ability to identify a serious error in your trial, quickly develop a legal argument in your favor, and effectively present it to the appeals court.

At Spolin Law P.C., we are highly experienced appeals lawyers and our team has a proven track record of success in the California appeals process. For a free consultation about your appeal options, call (310) 424-5816 today.

Can I Be Released While My Appeal Is Pending?

California law gives criminal defendants the right to request their release while their appeal is pending. This enables them to avoid the hardships of jail and to spend time with their family while the justice system ultimately decides their fate.

According to California Penal Code section 1272.1, a court must release you on bail if you and your attorney can provide evidence that:

  • You are not likely to flee
  • You are not a danger to other people or to the community, and
  • The appeal raises a substantial legal issue

If the court grants your motion, they may temporarily release you on your own recognizance or set bail. If the bail they set is too high, your attorney can file a separate motion to request a lower amount. Succeeding in this motion is extremely important, because the appeals process can sometimes last up to two years.

A Successful Appeal Usually Results in a Retrial

The specific benefit you receive from a successful appeal depends on the legal arguments raised by your lawyers. The process and results will be significantly different depending on whether your lawyer files a standard appeal or a writ of habeas corpus. A habeas corpus petition will focus on obtaining your freedom directly, but an appeal is more complex.

Your appeal can result in the following outcomes:

  • Denial — In this case, your initial trial verdict and judgement remain in place and you’ll have to serve the rest of your sentence.
    Remand for retrial — If the appeals court concludes that the trial judge made a mistake in your case that caused an unfair disadvantage, they’ll order a new trial for you. This gives you a new chance to prove your innocence or to negotiate a better plea bargain.
  • Remand for resentencing — If the prejudicial error happened at the sentencing stage, then the appeals court will order a new sentencing hearing. You cannot undo your criminal conviction, but you can argue for a more lenient sentence.
  • Reversal and acquittal — In some cases, the appeals court may find that the evidence against you was legally insufficient for the judge or jury to find you guilty. In this case, the appeals court may reverse the judgement and vacate your conviction. This is the only scenario where an appeal directly results in your release.
  • Call a California Appeals Lawyer Today

    If you want to learn more about the appeals process, you should act fast and call a California appeals lawyer. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, you only have a limited time to file an appeal. Once the deadline passes, you will typically not be able to file an appeal–although a lawyer may be able to file a writ of habeas corpus on your behalf. Winning the fight for your freedom after a conviction is never easy, but it can be done.

    Call Spolin Law P.C. today at (310) 424-5816 for a free consultation about reversing a California criminal conviction.