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What Is Considered A “WIN” In A Delaware Criminal Appeal?


A conviction in a Delaware criminal case may seem like it closes the door to your legal options, but you may still be able to appeal the decision of the trial court if there were errors behind the verdict. In fact, many individuals in your position do exactly that according to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) on criminal appeals in state courts. Almost 70,000 cases go through the appellate process every year and, due to double jeopardy concepts, it is the defendant who takes the initiative.

However, an appeal is not just another trial or opportunity to present new evidence. The process is intended to root out mistakes, so there may be some confusion over what constitutes a victory. Your Wilmington criminal appeals lawyer will strive to ensure you prevail in your case, but it is important to understand what a “win” really means in appellate courts.

Affirm the Decision of the Trial Court 

When appealing a criminal case, you are asking an appellate court to re-assess the decisions made by the trial court. Common grounds for filing an appeal include:

  • Plain errors, such as improperly admitted evidence or insufficient jury instructions;
  • Abuse of discretion by the judge; and,
  • Lack of sufficient evidence to support the verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

When an appeals court affirms the findings at the trial level, the verdict stands – effectively making your appeal a loss.

Reverse the Trial Judge’s Findings 

If the appellate court agrees with your grounds for seeking an appeal, the specific findings of the trial court may be reversed. However, in the sense of win-loss scenarios, the end result is murky. A reversal could mean a new trial that is free of the procedural errors or abuse of discretion. Still, it is possible that the jury will rely on other factors in returning a guilty verdict the next time around; correcting errors may not change their minds. The ideal WIN for an appeal would be a reversal by the appeals court, followed by an acquittal at the trial level.

Remand with Instructions 

In some cases, the appellate judges may agree that there were mistakes during the trial. However, they may not view a new, full-blown trial as being necessary to correct them. When an appeal results in a remand, there will typically be instructions from the appellate court to the trial judge on conducting additional proceedings. It is common for a case to be remanded when there are errors in sentencing. The trial court goes back to hold the sentencing hearing a second time.

Trust a Delaware Criminal Appeals Attorney to Guide You Through the Process 

Though it is critical to retain a lawyer as early on in the criminal process as possible, you should still reach out for representation if you are considering an appeal after the conclusion of your case. Our team is prepared to support your needs, so please contact Attorney Michael W. Modica to schedule a consultation. You can reach our Wilmington, DE office by calling 302.600.1262 or via our website.



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