Few things can be as disheartening as fighting a criminal charge in Wisconsin, only to be convicted after all is said and done. If you went into court believing you would be found innocent, you probably felt blindsided after receiving a guilty verdict.
After investing so much in the fight, you may be tempted to stop and accept the ruling that was handed down in court, even if you still feel you are innocent. But do not think you are out of options.
You need to understand you still have the option to appeal your conviction. This article will explain your right to file an appeal and give examples of when you might choose to do so––pointing you in the right direction to appeal your conviction in Wisconsin.
To learn more about appeals in Wisconsin, read our other article, "Criminal Appeals in Wisconsin: Know Your Options"
Your 6th Amendment Right to an Appeal
The 6th Amendment of The Bill of Rights was put in place to help ensure anyone accused of a crime has the right to a fair trial, even when appealing a conviction.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
-Amendment VI, The Bill of Rights
If you feel you were wrongfully convicted in Wisconsin, you can file for appeal. Through the appeals process, your attorney submits a request to a higher court or appellate court to review your case with the hope that an appellate court will reach a different decision than the lower court or trial court reached.
You might challenge the sentence you previously received or the conviction itself, depending on what you felt was unjust about your case.
If your appeal is successful, it will likely restore your case to its initial point, but might also end your case altoghether. This could happen if the appellate court determines there is insufficient evidence to retry your case.
To learn more about how to file an appeal in Wisconsin, read our other article, "How to Appeal a Criminal Conviction in Wisconsin"
Can I Appeal in Wisconsin if I Don't Think My Attorney Did a Good Job?
As the 6th Amendment provides, you have the right to the effective assistance of counsel. Many people in Wisconsin do not realize the quality of the legal representation they received can, in itself, be grounds for appeal under the 6th Amendment.
"If you feel that your attorney didn't properly represent you, then you absolutely, you have 6th Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel. And there are many claims raised in trial courts after convictions challenging how their counsel did or whether they may have made a mistake that causes prejudice, which means that the result would have been different but for that mistake. If you feel like your attorney may have made a mistake that essentially caused you harm, you want to pursue that issue on appeal."
Other Reasons You Might Want to Appeal
There are a number of factors which might impact whether or not you received a fair trial, as provided in The Bill of Rights. Some of these reasons might be:
- Issues with evidence: If you believe there was a problem regarding the collection, handling or admission of evidence--or if new evidence has surfaced--you might want to appeal.
- Jury instructions: If you believe the judge failed to properly instruct the jury before they brought back their verdict, you should consider filing for appeal.
- Ineffective counsel: As already mentioned, if you feel your attorney did not adequately represent you in court, file for appeal--but consider finding a different criminal defense attorney.
- Your attorney may pick up on some other detail or inconsistency during your trial and recommend you file for appeal; consider taking this advice, but certainly discuss the matter in detail.
While it would not change your conviction, you may want to file for appeal if you feel the verdict was too extreme or out of your ability to pay. This type of appeal, if successful, will not alter or change your conviction, but may reduce the amount you are required to pay.
No matter the reason you may want to pursue an appeal, be sure to discuss the matter with an informed and proven criminal defense attorney first.
I Want to Appeal. Where Do I Start?
If you are interested in appealing your criminal case in Wisconsin, there is no time to waste. As soon as you receive your intial verdict, you have only a short amount of time in which you can file an appeal--typically only 20 days. It is crucial you consult a criminal defense attorney experienced in handling appeals as soon as possible, as timeliness is a critical factor to observe.
FREE 10-Minute Consultation
Wisconsin Attorney Pat Stangl has appealed a wide variety of different types of cases, including many drunk driving cases. Attorney Stangl is pleased to offer to you—at no obligation—a FREE 10-minute consultation to discuss the details of your case and explore your options when considering an appeal. Click below to get your free consultation.