Should You Hire a New Lawyer for Your Criminal Appeal?

If you were convicted at trial, this does not necessarily mean that your case is over. You could have grounds to file an appeal; and, if you do, it is important that you hire a lawyer to help you enforce your legal and Constitutional rights.

But, this raises an important question: Should you keep going with your trial counsel, or should you hire a new lawyer for your criminal appeal?

Why You May Want to Retain Your Trial Counsel

In certain circumstances, it will make the most sense for the lawyer who represented you at trial to represent you during your appeal. For example, this may be your best option if:

  • Your grounds for appeal are limited. One of the more-common grounds for appeal in a criminal case is to assert that you received ineffective assistance of counsel. If you are claiming that your trial counsel was ineffective, you certainly will not want him or her to represent you during your appeal. On the other hand, if your grounds for appeal are limited to judicial errors (such as allowing the prosecution to use inadmissible evidence), then it may make sense to stick with your trial lawyer.
  • Your trial lawyer has appellate experience. Of course, you want to make sure that your trial lawyer has appellate experience. Some lawyers only handle trials, and if your trial lawyer has never represented a client on appeal, it may be in your best interests to hire a new attorney.
  • The facts of your case are complicated. If your trial lasted weeks and weeks and followed months and months of detailed preparation, it is going to take some time for a new lawyer to get up to speed. On the other hand, your trial lawyer will already be intimately familiar with the facts and may be better able to hit the ground running on your appeal.

Why You May Want to Hire a New Lawyer for Your Appeal

However, in some cases, hiring a new appellate lawyer will be your best (and possibly your only) option. Some of the reasons to seek new representation for your criminal appeal include:

  • Your trial lawyer was ineffective. As we noted above, if you are entitled to a new trial because you received ineffective assistance of counsel, you will need to hire a new lawyer for your appeal.
  • You want a fresh perspective on your case. In many cases, it can be beneficial to have a new lawyer take a look at your case. While your trial lawyer may have been focused on narrowing down the issues in order to build a cohesive defense, identifying your grounds for appeal requires a broader perspective. An attorney who has extensive appellate experience will be trained to spot the issues that can justify arguing for a new trial.
  • There are multiple levels of appeal. Finally, your first appeal will not necessarily be your last. If you lose your initial appeal, you may be able to challenge your conviction again at a higher-level court. If you need to seek review in the North Carolina Supreme Court or the Supreme Court of the United States, this will involve special rules and procedures that typically require the knowledge of an experienced appellate attorney.

Discuss Your Case With a Raleigh Criminal Appeal Attorney Today

If you were convicted of a crime in North Carolina and would like more information about your right to appeal, we encourage you to contact us for a consultation. We can fully explore your grounds for appeal, and we can help you decide whether it makes sense to retain your trial counsel or hire a new appellate attorney. To discuss your case in confidence with an appeals lawyer at our offices in Raleigh, NC, please call (919) 833-3114 or request an appointment online today.