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In the unfortunate circumstance that you have been convicted of or placed on community supervision for a criminal offence, you may be entitled to challenge the outcome in a higher court. This is true in both Federal and State cases. It may be true even if you plead guilty or no-contest to criminal charges.
Appellate practice is a specialized area of Criminal Law, which has its own rules, procedures and deadlines. The application of these rules and deadlines requires strict compliance and failure to follow them properly and timely can result in the loss of your right to challenge your case forever.
In both Texas and the Federal Criminal Courts, there are generally two separate and distinct tracks to challenge a conviction and/or sentence - Direct Appeal and Writ of Habeas Corpus.
Direct Appeal is the most common and, generally speaking, the first step in the post-conviction process. It is governed by the Texas Rules of Appellate Procedure (TRAPS). Under State Law, a person must file written Notice of Appeal within 30 days from the date of judgment. Failure to do so will likely result in the loss of this important right forever. The process that follows may include but is not limited to the following:
Direct Appeal is a “record-based appeal”. This means that the appeal can only address matters which are contained in the clerks record and the court reporters transcript of your case. New facts and/or new evidence is excluded from consideration in this type of appeal.
A Writ of Habeas Corpus is a collateral attack on a criminal judgment. Unlike direct appeal, a post-conviction writ is not confined by the appellate record. An applicant can and should introduce new facts, evidence and legal arguments in challenging that person’s conviction or sentence. As with direct appeal, writs come with their own specialized set of rules and deadlines. These rules and deadlines are complicated and tedious and require an experienced appellate practitioner to successfully navigate the process. Writs of Habeas Corpus are as much an art as they are a legal and procedural exercise. They often involve the implementation of complex legal and factual strategies in order to achieve the desired result.
In a recent Texas case, Parnham and Associates have convinced a judge to vacate a first-degree felony conviction based on unfounded charges of sexual assault after petitioning for and acquiring a writ of habeas corpus in the case.
Dee McWilliams examines the right of the accused to a public trial, which is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. He discusses its importance, historical applications and the reasons why a judge may consider closures.
The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution confers numerous rights on the citizens of the United States in regards to their defense in a criminal prosecution. One of the most important of these is found in what is referred to as the “Confrontation Clause”, that is, the defendant’s right to be confronted by the witnesses against them in a criminal prosecution.