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Ohio’s Criminal Appeals Process

Wolfe Law Group, LLC June 8, 2022

If you’ve been sentenced or convicted of a crime, you’ve likely already been through a long and agonizing process. You may feel overwhelmed and scared about what the future holds—but for some people, there may still be hope. If you feel that you were wrongly accused and sentenced, you may have the chance to appeal your case to a higher court in the hopes of having your conviction overturned. On average, the Ohio Court of Appeals sees over 4,000 criminal cases each year and yours could be one of them. If you’d like to speak with a criminal defense attorney about making an appeal, contact Wolfe Law Group, LLC today. With an office in Columbus, Ohio, they’re able to serve clients throughout the area, including Dublin, Westerville, Gahanna, and Hilliard. 

Valid Reasons to Appeal

Most criminal convictions and sentences are able to be appealed, but you will need to show a valid reason for an appellate court to step in. This usually means there was a prejudicial error made during the trial that resulted in an unfair verdict, or that the prosecution’s case lacked substantial evidence.

Appeals Process in Ohio

After receiving your conviction, you and your attorneys may start the appeal process by filing a notice with the court. It’s important to note that you are not requesting an entirely new trial. Rather, you’re filing a request that your case and original trial are reviewed by an appellate court to see if an error was made. You generally do not have to give information about your guilt or innocence at this time, and instead will outline the reasons you believe your trial was unfair and why the results should be overturned. If you have a valid reason for an appeal, the court will review the evidence and the previous trial, and they’ll either uphold the previous ruling or they may overturn a criminal conviction.

Typically, there are three main standards that a judge will use to review your case. The abuse of discretion standard is when a trial judge makes an error in their ruling, resulting in an unfair trial. If you believe your trial was unfair due to lack of evidence, the appeals court may use the substantial evidence standard to determine there wasn’t enough evidence to support the judge or jury’s decision. Lastly, if there’s a question of the laws involved in your case, the appellate court may use the de novo standard (meaning, “from the beginning”) and examine your case as if it had never gone to trial.

Filing an Appeal 

You only have 30 days following the judgment to file a notice of appeal, so it’s essential to act fast. After this has been accepted, your lawyers can request a transcript of the trial and you’ll begin drafting an appellate brief. This document lays out your argument for why you believe your trial was unfair. Your hope is to persuade the court that there’s enough evidence that they should take on your case for review. The prosecuting attorney will then file a merit brief where they outline their opposition for the ruling to be overturned. Once these have been filed, both sides will be able to make oral arguments to a three-judge panel. 

Seek Reliable Representation

If you’ve recently been convicted of a crime and have reason to believe you had an unfair trial in Ohio, you need to reach out to a criminal defense lawyer immediately. There is only a short window of time to start the appeals process, and you’ll need an organized and comprehensive legal team behind you to ensure your rights are protected. If you’re in the Columbus region, including Licking County, Newark County, Heath County, and the rest of Ohio, call the Wolfe Law Group, LLC to schedule a consultation.