Massachusetts Criminal Appeal and Post Conviction Relief Attorney
The term "criminal appeal" generically describes several different pretrial and post-conviction challenges to trial court decisions. Attorney Driscoll handles a wide variety of criminal appeals and post conviction relief matters. Attorney Driscoll handles post judgment relief in the various trial courts and appeals in the Massachusetts Appeals Court, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), and Supreme Court of the United States.
A criminal conviction is far reaching. Besides incarceration, parole, or probation there is the impact upon other rights such as present or future housing, employment, immigration, and government benefits. A subsequent arrest can be treated more harshly (e.g., bail) and a subsequent conviction can result in harsher sentencing, particularly in federal court.
A crimianl appeal determines whether what occurred in the trial court was fair, whether the evidence was legally sufficient to justify the outcome, and whether the law was correctly interpreted and applied in the trial court. There are many mistakes, errors, and oversights that can occur during a criminal prosecution. For example, a trial judge may incorrectly decide a critical motion, improperly admit or exclude evidence at trial, allow the jury to proceed where there is insufficient evidence to support a conviction, or fail to properly instruct the jury on the law.
Criminal appeals are sensitive to procedure and time deadlines. Identifying viable issues for appeal and properly arguing your case to the appellate court is a task requiring appellate experience. If the case is worth the time and expense of an appeal then it is worth engaging experienced appellate counsel.
A criminal interlocutory appeal challenges a court decision made before a conviction. Either the defendant or the Commonwealth may pursue an interlocutory appeal such as challenging the granting or denial of a motion to suppress evidence. Litigation is halted while the appeal is ongoing in the appellate court.
A criminal direct appeal challenges a conviction after trial. A direct appeal is initiated with the timely filing of a notice of appeal in the trial court. The issues being challenged come from anytime during the criminal "case", which can range back to even before an arrest. In addition, a direct appeal may challenge the effectiveness of your trial attorney. Direct appeals are heard in the Massachusetts appellate courts, the Appeals Court or the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC).
If a federal issue is raised on appeal, the Supreme Court of the United States is the court of last resort. For example, Attorney Driscoll sought judicial review in the United States Supreme Court by filing a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the case of Commonwealth v. Suriel, 91 Mass. App. Ct. 604, (2017), review denied, 477 Mass. 1110 (2017), cert. denied, 138 S. Ct. 484 (2017). The federal issue presented was whether a passenger's the federal Constitutional rights are violated when the police stop a motor vehicle solely to verify the passenger's firearm license status.
Post Conviction Relief
Post conviction relief can be gained by many means. Examples include a motion for stay of sentence pending appeal, a motion to revise or revoke your sentence, and a motion for a new trial. Post conviction motions are filed in the trial court after conviction and sentencing.
A post conviction motion can seek to revoke a guilty plea or seek a new criminal trial. A motion for a new trial can be pursued to add evidence to the record on direct appeal, such as to allege Constitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel. A post conviction motion can also be pursued as a collateral action, after a direct appeal has been decided or after the right of appeal has been waived. The purpose of a collateral attack on your conviction are numerous, such as changes in the law that affect the legality of your conviction or the identification of newly discovered evidence.
Post conviction motions usually require an evidentiary hearing to admit evidence in support of your case. For example, if the allegation is that your trial lawyer was ineffective then your trial attorney will be required to provide testimony under oath to explain their actions or inaction in the case. If a post conviction motion is denied then that decision may be challenged by way of a direct appeal to the appellate court.