The villain sometimes frustrates the hero on television by “getting out on appeal,” sometimes days after a fictionalized trial.
In reality, appeals are almost impossible to win, even if a defendant can prove factual innocence years later.
Those appeals are even more impossible here in Harris County, where criminal appeals often fall through the cracks. KLTV recently covered a handful of such cases. 100+ cases sat for 20, 30, or even 40 years, so resolving the legal challenges raised on those appeals may not be possible.
In some cases, the defendants in question have already served their sentences but have little recourse for how the justice system has failed them.
How Appeals Work
Appeals may not introduce new evidence unless the lawyer can prove that the evidence would not have been available at the time of the original trial. The lawyer also must prove that the new evidence would have made a difference.
For the most part, appeals revolve around issues of the law—whether or not the judge in a specific case failed to apply the law correctly. Judges often declare an error “innocent,” even when it’s anything but.
In criminal cases, judges are often reluctant to overturn one another’s rulings or are skittish about the precedents they might set.
You also only get one appeal. You can sometimes pursue other post-conviction remedies, but they aren’t always effective.
Why Appeals Fell Through the Cracks
Harris County courts have been backlogged for decades, and the situation only worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In one case, a judge gave prosecutors an “unspecified” amount of time to answer the defense. With no deadline, the prosecutors had no real incentive to answer, and the case just sat until everyone forgot about it.
Sometimes, all it takes for a case to fall through the cracks is for a clerk to make a mistake.
What You Can Do
The situation in Harris County makes it even more vital for you to secure the help of an experienced private criminal lawyer before proceeding with your court case. If we don’t get it right for you the first time, there might not be any do-overs.
This is especially dire in felony cases with long jail sentences.
You have no time to waste if you’ve been charged with a crime. Contact the attorneys at Greco Neyland to get help right away.
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