Understanding Oklahoma Criminal Appeals Process
The criminal justice system is far from perfect. Far too often, courts find individuals guilty of crimes they did not commit or hand out unfair penalties for a wide range of crimes. These mistakes can occur for many reasons, from poorly handled trials, legal malpractice, or insufficient evidence. Fortunately, the Oklahoma criminal appeals process provides those wrongfully convicted a chance to find justice.
The legal process can be incredibly complicated. Depending on the circumstances of the case, this process can take months or even years. Similarly, the Oklahoma criminal appeals process is just as complex.
There are many requirements you must meet to file an appeal in Oklahoma. To ensure the success of your case, you need a trusted and experienced Oklahoma criminal appeals attorney. They can walk you through this process, ensuring you provide them with everything they need to secure the outcome you desire.
The criminal process is a complicated one, involving many moving parts and parties. To ensure you secure the outcome you deserve, you need the help of an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. That’s where AMA Law comes in. If you need assistance navigating the Oklahoma criminal appeals process, give our law firm a call today.
What is a Criminal Appeal?
After a judge or jury of a lower court has convicted an individual, that person has the right to file an appeal. An appeal is a request a defendant can make to have that initial court decision reviewed and potentially changed by a higher court. Often, defendants and their legal teams file appeals if they feel they have been wrongfully convicted or received too harsh a punishment for their crimes.
The goal of an appeal is not to challenge a jury’s decision but to ensure that the legal process was fair and did not violate the defendant’s rights. However, in most cases, the defendant hopes their appeal overturns the initial conviction or leads to a reduced punishment.
Your case must fit one of the required grounds for appeal to qualify for one, such as:
- There was a legal or procedural error.
- There was jury or prosecutorial misconduct.
- New evidence has emerged that is significant to the case.
- A defendant’s counsel provided ineffective assistance.
What Decisions Can You Appeal?
Not every court decision is appealable. However, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) does lay out what orders and decisions they will review for appeal. Some of the things the Court of Criminal Appeals may review include:
- Any judgment made against the defendant, as a matter of right
- Any decision or intermediate order of the court made in the progress of the case
- A conviction following a guilty plea, in the form of a Writ of Mandamus
- A final judgment where the district court declared an act of the State Legislature unconstitutional
- Appeals by the State or Municipality
- Appeals involving a juvenile offender
- Applications of Post-Conviction Relief
- Applications for expungement
- An order from the District Court regarding the final disposition of a prisoner’s petition for judicial review
- An application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
- Writs of Prohibition
You can read up on Oklahoma’s statutes on the criminal procedure here to learn more.
The Oklahoma Criminal Appeals Process
When filing a criminal appeal, you must make these appeals to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (the state court of last resort for criminal matters). More often than not, this is as far as criminal appeals can go.
As stated in Title 22, Chapter 18 of “Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals,” an individual has the right to file a criminal appeal if they have been wrongly convicted of a crime. A judge will then review their case. They will conduct research and look for any instances of discrepancies or malpractice. When initially filing an appeal, it is best to analyze the case with your attorney to find any malpractice or injustice during the legal process.
If the judge finds there was a mishandling of the case or that the sentence was unfair, they may motion to reopen it.
Steps of the Process
The details of the Oklahoma criminal appeals process are as follows:
- After the trial court has rendered its decision or order, a defendant and their attorney must determine that there were errors in the legal proceedings that constitute grounds for appeal.
- The attorney must then initiate an appeal by filing a Notice of Intent to Appeal and a Designation of Record with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeal (OCCA) within ten days from the date the lower court imposed its judgment and sentence.
- After the Clerk of this Court receives these documents and the filing fee, the attorney must also file a Petition of Error and the Original Record with the Transcripts of the Trial Proceedings within 90 days of the sentencing.
- Once the OCCA receives your appeal, they will issue a Notice to Transmit the Record.
- You must then file an Appellant’s Brief (which details the alleged errors in the trial) within 60 days after the Court files its Notice of Transmit.
- The OCCA should then respond within 60 days with an Answer Brief, which outlines any issues or inconsistencies found in the Appellant’s Brief. The defendant can then file a response to these issues.
- The OCCA will then review all relevant documents the defendant and their legal team have filed to decide (which can take several months).
- If the OCCA decides to grant you your appeal, they can either reverse the court decision entirely or partly.
This entire process can last up to two years, so you must be patient if you want your appeal to succeed. While your application for appeal may result in a reversal, it could also lead to a modification or an affirmation of the court’s initial ruling.
Contact AMA Law
Unfortunately, countless cases involve individuals who have either face wrongful accusations or unfair punishments. The justice system is not perfect, and mistakes occur, whether due to legal malpractice, missing evidence, or a poorly handled trial. Regardless of the reason, the Oklahoma criminal appeals process allows these individuals a chance to right the wrongs against them.
However, this appeals process is incredibly complicated. These cases require an experienced attorney to navigate these proceedings efficiently to ensure your appeal is a success. If you have been wrongfully accused and convicted of a crime, contact the criminal defense attorneys at AMA Law and let us fight for the justice you deserve.