Criminal Appeals Attorney in Westmont
Handling Appeals throughout Camden County
Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, hearing a jury foreperson announce a guilty verdict against you or a loved one is a devastating experience. It is important to be aware, however, that all hope is not lost. Whatever the original charges and the outcome of your criminal case may have been, an appeal could be your second chance at justice.
It’s critically important to choose a criminal defense lawyer who has considerable experience successfully appealing convictions for clients in New Jersey. You need to select an experienced Westmont criminal appeals attorney like Jill R. Cohen who can determine possible causes for an appeal and who will zealously pursue justice on your behalf.
The Four Court Levels in New Jersey
Different courts involve different legal processes that you will want to be aware of whenever you are scheduled to appear in court. Some courts will deal with lighter disorderly crimes while others deal with only appeals or more serious crimes. The court you are sentenced by is one of the primary factors that will determine which court will handle your appeal.
This is the lowest tier of courts with the least amount of legal authority overall.
You will usually end up at this court for charges such as:
- Regular and petty disorderly persons offenses
- Municipal ordinance violations
- Traffic violations
- Other minor charges
Unlike other tiers, the municipal court holds no formal trials and has no jury involved. The judge is the one who makes the decision of guilt versus innocence and penalties.
Penalties for convictions in municipal court often include:
- Up to six months in prison
- License suspension
- Community service
- Restitution for the victim(s)
An appeal of a municipal court claim will go to the Superior Court.
Superior Court is the next tier. It has a jury, unlike Municipal Court. It is divided into three sections in New Jersey: Criminal Court, Family Court, and Civil Court. This court level hears indictable criminal offenses (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th degree), as well as juvenile crimes, divorce hearings, restraining orders, other family matters, civil suits, and appeals from municipal court decisions. An appeal of a superior court claim will go to the Appellate Division Court.
Appellate Division Court
Appellate Division exists specifically for hearings on appealed decisions made in a Superior Court. Specifically, it hears appeals from the law and chancery divisions of NJ Superior Court, Tax Court, and final decisions made by state administrative agencies. The New Jersey Appellate Division deals with over 7,000 appeals per year. In most cases, the Appellate Division is the highest that appeals will go in which a court will decide to affirm, reverse, remand, or modify a previous court decision.
The four types of court decisions regarding appeals include:
- Affirm: The court agrees with the previous court’s decision and keeps the decision as is.
- Reverse or vacate: The court decides the previous court’s decision was incorrect and the decision is reversed or vacated.
- Remand: The court forces the lower court to rehear the case again. An appellate court can force a remand for the whole case, or a part of the case. Often times, you will see a case remanded to the lower court, but the appellate court will reverse or vacate part of the decision in the same opinion or order.
- Modify: The court changes part of the lower tier court’s decision such as deciding a person is guilty of some charges but not of others or changing a fine amount.
The Supreme Court is at the state level and is the highest court tier. It is very rare that something will go past the Appellate Division Court in New Jersey. Usually, the cases before the New Jersey Supreme Court involve the state constitution, individual rights – such as the First or Fourth Amendment – or social and political cases. The appealing side must file a writ of certiorari, and their appeal will only be heard by the New Jersey Supreme Court if that writ is granted.
How to File an Appeal at Each Court Level
When you want to appeal a court decision, there are different court levels that an appeal can go to. Where the appeal goes depends on where the trial was initially held. There are three different court levels involved with appeals: Superior, Appellate, and Supreme Court. Appellate court is where most appeals are heard, and most cases are concluded at that point.
Appealing Municipal Court Decisions
To appeal a Municipal Court decision – such as guilty or excessive sentencing – you must file in the Superior Court Law Division in the County where the case was originally heard and tried. In accordance with New Jersey law, the appeal must be submitted within 20 days of the sentencing and the prosecuting attorney and county clerk must be served proper appeal papers within five days of the appeal submission along with a filing fee.
Attorney Jill Cohen has been handling Municipal Court appeals for years. She can ensure a smooth appellate process to comply with all deadlines and avoid any dismissal of the appeal request.
Appealing Superior Court Decisions
At the Superior Court level, a criminal appeal must be filed to the Superior Court’s Appellate Division specifically. An attorney has 45 days within the date of the Superior Court’s order to file an appeal with the Appellate Division.
Attorney Jill Cohen has filed many Superior Court appeals in her practice and is very familiar with the process. She knows how to advocate on your behalf to show how the Superior Court erred in their decision and will uncover and argue any possible mistakes made to help get your case overturned.
Appealing Appellate Division Court Decisions
Although an appeal to the Appellate Division is usually the final stop, in some instances, that ruling can be appealed one final time to New Jersey’s Supreme Court. The New Jersey Supreme Court does not hear nearly as many cases or review as many petitions as the Appellate Division, and it only grants a small number of petitions every year. Often, the New Jersey Supreme Court will only consider an appeal in situations where there is a clear violation of human rights or there is a constitutional issue at hand. These are the types of cases that will impact not just the parties in the case, but also the entire state of New Jersey. A very skilled and creative petition must be crafted to get to this level, requiring an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Motions for Post-Conviction Relief
Appellate courts only review questions of law – which means in an appeal, you can only argue that there was a legal mistake that resulted in your conviction or sentence. If you believe there were factual issues that led to your conviction or sentence, you can seek post-conviction relief.
A successful motion for post-conviction relief may result in:
- A sentence modification
- A new trial
We Are Ready to Fight for You
Every criminal case is different. As you select a lawyer to handle your appeal, look for someone with depth and breadth in criminal law. Westmont criminal appeals attorney Jill Cohen has successfully won many appeals in cases including but not limited to DUI, assault, domestic violence, restraining orders, traffic offenses, and even homicides. Our firm’s unique experience allows us to see the case clearly from both sides of the courtroom and build an effective appeal.
We know there are numerous reasons to pursue an appeal. For example, your previous defense attorney may have failed to meet acceptable standards, a judge or jury may have made an erroneous decision, or procedural errors may have occurred in your previous trial. Our firm will leave no stone unturned as we seek to get your conviction appealed and return you to your family.
Aggravated Assault Not Guilty
Aggravated Manslaughter Appeal Granted
Aggravated Sexual Assault Dismissed
First Degree Aggravated Sexual Not Guilty
Restraining Orders Dismissed
Sexual Assault Dismissed