There must be a way in which judges are held accountable for their decisions. After all, they are not infallible and are capable of making grave mistakes that can adversely impact the lives of the people they govern. Because of this fact, the losing party in certain types of cases is granted the right to have a decision made by a lower court to be reviewed by another independent judge or judges belonging to a higher court. This is known as an appeal.
Higher courts are designed to consider appeals made by defendants and losing parties in their cases. The courts responsible for determining appeals in Pennsylvania are known as the Pennsylvania Superior Court, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It is their duty to correct errors made by a trial judge. The right of appeal exists to ensure that, as far as possible, courts will arrive at a correct decision. It is assumed that the decisions of the appellate courts are reasonable.
If you are intertwined with the legal system (particularly the criminal justice system) it is important you fully understand that you have a right to appeal a case outcome in certain circumstances.
Types of Cases That Can Be Appealed
There are several types of cases and contexts in which there may be a right of appeal. These cases include:
- Criminal cases: In criminal cases, a defendant can appeal against a conviction or sentence that is considered disproportionate or unjust.
- Family law cases: An individual may also file an appeal to challenge a decision that affects family relationships. For example, an appeal against a judge's recommended child custody arrangement, child support, or the division of marital assets may be considered.
- Civil cases: If an individual files a lawsuit against another party, which is known as a civil case, they have a right to appeal the outcome of a judge's decision in this case. Appeals against a judge's determination in civil cases could include a contractual dispute, a boundary dispute among neighbors, a claim for compensation in a personal injury case, an incident involving medical malpractice etc.
- Procedural decisions made by judges in all parts of the justice system: Judges make decisions about whether to allow or disallow certain evidence to be placed before the court, whether or not to require the disclosure of specific types of evidence, and whether to grant an adjournment in some cases. An individual can submit an appeal under these circumstances.
Pennsylvania Criminal Appeals Attorney
For defendants in the criminal justice system, the right to appeal is valuable to utilize. Oftentimes, an appeal is the difference between freedom and imprisonment, costly fines, and other legal ramifications. With all that is at stake, it's imperative you consult with an appeals attorney who can maximize your chances of success. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has over a decade of experience helping his clients overturn their convictions and reduce their sentence through the criminal appeals system. He can do the same for you. Contact him today.