Being accused in a criminal case is daunting. You might think that presenting your side at a trial will lead to justice, but sometimes things don't go as planned. What if you're found guilty, even when you're confident of your innocence? You might have a legal right to appeal. Keep reading to learn about how new evidence can be used in these cases and contact Law Office of Michael L. Fell at (949) 585-9055 for a free legal consultation.
Appealing a Conviction: What Does It Entail?
After a verdict that doesn't go your way, your next step is to appeal the decision. An appeal is a complex process where the goal is for the appellate court to find errors that might have affected the trial outcome. But here's the catch: an appeal isn't a retrial. You can't introduce new evidence or witnesses. The appellate court's review is restricted to the record of the original trial. Any mistakes made by the trial judge or objections raised during the trial come into play here.
However, imagine finding new evidence after your conviction, evidence that might change everything. Can you present it during an appeal? Surprisingly, there's a way to do just that.
The Lesser-Known Path: Writ of Error Cornam Vobis
Here's where the common law writ of error cornam vobis steps in. It's not as well-known as other legal terms, but it's vital for situations like this. This writ is a petition highlighting errors that occurred during the trial. There's a variant for the appellate process called writ of error cornam vobis, specifically for appeals.
Using this writ during an appeal is not common, mostly because of the stringent conditions attached and the more prevalent options for requesting a new trial. But when applicable, it can be a game-changer.
The Criteria for the Writ of Error Cornam Vobis
For a petitioner to rely on this writ, there are specific criteria to meet:
- They must demonstrate that certain facts, which were unknown during the trial due to no fault of their own, could have potentially altered the judgment if they had been presented.
- The evidence discovered should not merely rehash issues already tried. Once facts are adjudicated, they're usually set in stone unless a motion for a new trial is initiated.
- There's also an emphasis on the timing of this discovery. The facts should not have been known to the petitioner considerably earlier than when the motion for the writ was made.
One cannot invoke this writ just because they missed out on appeal opportunities or didn't motion for a new trial. In some cases, the court requires evidence of deception or non-disclosure of critical facts that hindered a fair trial.
Another limitation is its scope. The writ targets factual errors, not legal ones. You can't use it to challenge established legal opinions, only to correct unnoticed factual errors.
The Final Verdict on Using the Writ
The appellate court, through the writ of error cornam vobis, has the authority to evaluate the new evidence's relevance and instruct the trial court to reevaluate its decision based on these facts, even while an appeal is ongoing.
However, resorting to this writ is not a guaranteed success. It's a discretionary relief and should be used as a last resort when no other legal avenues remain. If you find yourself in such a situation, seeking guidance from Law Office of Michael L. Fell can provide clarity. Reach out at (949) 585-9055 to understand your options and chart the best course forward.