Being arrested and charged with driving under the influence is scary. And in Pennsylvania - a state that enforces DUI legislation forcefully and aggressively - it's not shocking that an abundance of people may find themselves in this predicament. Although defendants enter a courtroom in hopes that the verdict will be in their favor, and that their charges are dismissed or reduced, there is no guarantee that this will occur. Fortunately, there is a legal option of an appeal when a defendant is found guilty of committing a DUI offense.
There is absolutely zero risk that comes with requesting an appeal. The worst case scenario is that the request is denied and a conviction remains unmodified. A judge does not have the ability to impose harsher sentences or tack on more criminal charges if a defendant loses appeal. Therefore, defendants should take advantage of this legal option in light of a DUI conviction.
Appealing a DUI Conviction in Pennsylvania
It's imperative that a party acts immediately after they decide that they want to request an a DUI conviction. In most cases, a party has only 30 days after a verdict to officially appeal a decision. If a request is not properly made within this short time frame, the legal option to appeal will no longer be available.
However, this appeals process is rarely simple. It is a complicated process that requires the help of an attorney in order to win. A legal professional will be able to ensure that all the necessary documents are filed in a timely manner and that the materials submitted successfully communicate that errors were made within the duration of a trial to justify an appeal.
Grounds for a DUI Appeal
An appeal is a request made by a party to let a higher court to review a decision and potentially alter a decision made by a lower court. This request is made when a party has received an unfavorable outcome in a trial. However, mere satisfaction with a judge or jury's verdict is not enough for an appeal to be granted; it has to be based on errors that ensued during a trial. There are two types of legal mishaps that transpire within a trial that serve as grounds for an appeal. These legal errors are categorized as either procedural grounds or substantive grounds.
Procedural grounds: a party that is requesting an appeal based on procedural grounds are challenging the decisions made by a judge or a prosecutor in regard to standard procedure. Each criminal trial contains guidelines that cannot be compromised by any party without legitimate reasoning, such as disallowing a witness to testify or suppressing evidence that is crucial to a party.
Substantive grounds: a party that is requesting an appeal based on substantive grounds are doing so in accordance with the belief that errors of fact were made during a trial. Substantive grounds are established in the event that judge misapplies Pennsylvania law to a DUI case, or if the evidence presented by the prosecution did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty like intended. It's important to note that facts presented in court are normally not considered unless there was an apparent flaw that should be addressed. If the substantive grounds presented on the behalf of a defendant through an appeals request are considered valid in the eyes of a higher court, a defendant's DUI conviction may be overturned.
Claiming that an arrest was unlawful, or that the jury wasn't given the correct instructions by a judge are common miscarriages of justice listed in a request for an appeal.
Experienced Philadelphia DUI Defense Attorney
If you have been found guilty of driving under the influence and believe that your case contained legal errors that should be reviewed by a higher court, you should file an appeal. Even if you were representing yourself in the original trial, a legal professional will maximize your chances of a favorable outcome the second time around. Contact skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento today.