WRITS AND APPEALS
Penal Code §1170(d)(2), Fair Sentencing For Youth Act
Senate Bill 260 & 261, Youth Offender Parole Hearings
Reducing Felonies to Misdemeanors
Proposition 47, Resentencing
Proposition 36, Three Strikes Resentencing
Why Choose Our Firm
The lawyers at Werksman Jackson Hathaway & Quinn LLP have the knowledge and experience necessary to obtain successful results on appellate matters. In fact, Partner Kelly Quinn is recognized by the California State Bar as a Certified Appeals Specialist. The State Bar of California only awards this distinction to a handful of specially-trained and qualified lawyers like Ms. Quinn, who have proven that they have mastered the specialized skills required to draft winning writs and appeals.
Defendants who have been convicted of a crime must act quickly to successfully challenge a guilty verdict. When it comes to writs and appeals, it is absolutely imperative that you take action immediately and discuss your options with legal counsel for the following reasons:
- In order to appeal a conviction, a notice of appeal must be filed immediately following the conviction by either the defendant or the attorney. This alerts the court clerk to start the preparation of necessary transcripts to be reviewed by the lawyers and higher courts, and the document lets the trial court know the defendant will be appealing. If the defendant does not file the notice of appeal in a timely manner, he or she may not be able to file at all.
- In a writ matter, no notice of appeal is required but a defendant must still act quickly. If a defendant feels they have been wronged, and there are unrecorded facts to be shown to a higher court as evidence, he or she needs to file a writ immediately.
An appeal is a request for a higher court to review the rulings or decisions of a lower court. An appeal is not another trial in a higher court. Instead, the defense makes legal arguments to the higher court, and the higher court determines whether there was error in the trial. Typical grounds for appeal include errors in jury instructions, the improper admission of evidence against the defendant, the improper exclusion of defense evidence, and prosecutorial misconduct.
On appeal, a defendant can only raise issues which are apparent from the record of the lower court. Thus, anything that happens which is not part of the record, such as off-the-record discussions with attorneys or witnesses, cannot be raised on appeal.
Writs are another way for a higher court to review a legal issue. There are several types of writs, including the writ of habeas corpus and the writ of mandamus. Writs can sometimes be used to have a legal issue reviewed before trial. However, writs are an extraordinary remedy and are only available when a defendant has no other adequate remedy at law, such as an appeal.
Defendants may file a habeas petition to contest issues that they are not allowed to raise on appeal. Typically, this applies to issues that are not apparent in the record of the case itself, such as when an attorney fails to investigate a possible defense or there is newly discovered evidence.
Other Legislative Remedies
Recent changes to California law offer relief to people who have suffered criminal convictions. Examples include Proposition 47, which allows individuals convicted of certain drug and theft crimes to petition the trial court to reduce their felony conviction to a misdemeanor; Proposition 36, which significantly altered the “three strikes” law by only allowing defendants to be sentenced to 25 years to life if all three felonies were for a serious or violent crimes; Penal Code § 1170(d)(2), which allows juvenile offenders who were sentenced to life without parole the opportunity to petition the court for a resentencing hearing after serving at least fifteen years in state prison; and Senate Bills 260 and 261, which give individuals who are serving state prison sentences for crimes they committed under the age of 23 an earlier, and more meaningful chance at parole.
Werksman Jackson Hathaway & Quinn LLP has successfully overturned convictions. If you or someone you know is currently dealing with an appeal, writ, or resentencing matter please contact our office immediately to discuss your options.