Rhode Island Criminal Appeals
If you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime after a trial in the Rhode Island Superior Court, it can feel like the world has stopped spinning. This is especially painful when it feels like the trial wasn't fair- important evidence did not come out, or a witness was allowed to lie or present false evidence. A trial doesn't always go as planned. Sometimes it feels like the State, the police or the witnesses were fighting dirty. When you know that your loved one is innocent or that the trial was not fair, you need to call an attorney who promises to never stop fighting.
You have the right to appeal the case to the Rhode Island Supreme Court. This process is not a new trial with additional evidence and testimony. Instead, the Supreme Court will review the transcripts of the trial and determine whether the law was correctly applied and proper procedures were followed. Generally, issues of fact are decided by the trial court and only issues of law are reviewed by the Supreme Court. There are exceptions to this, so an important part of working with Attorney Kara Hoopis Manosh is a thorough review of all of the case materials.
Common Grounds for an Appeal in Rhode Island
- Improper admission or exclusion of evidence
- Denial of a Motion for a New Trial
- Errors in the jury instructions
- Prosecutorial misconduct
- Jury misconduct
- Insufficient evidence
- Error of law
- Denied the right to present a defense
- Introduction of a confession/statement after violation of rights
- Fourth Amendment errors
How do I file an appeal in Rhode Island?
After the conviction (which formally occurs on the day of sentencing) in Rhode Island Superior Court, there is a strict deadline to file the Notice of Appeal in the Rhode Island Supreme Court. The trial attorney must file this notice within ten (10) days of the sentencing. It is important that the trial attorney request the transcripts from the trial and all motions hearings and important court dates.
When do I hire an appeals lawyer?
It is a good idea to hire the appeals lawyer immediately after the jury has given its verdict. Attorney Manosh begins to work on the case before sentencing, because sometimes there can be newly discovered evidence that could warrant a a Motion for a New Trial before sentence is imposed.
How long does it take for an appeal?
There is no exact timeline for an appeal. Usually, a criminal appeal takes at least one year. This can be longer, though. It is important to present the best case possible, and it is usually not a good idea to rush this process. Generally, you only have one chance to present your appeal.
What does the appeals lawyer do?
First, the appellate attorney will need to collect all of the case materials. You and your family have been living with this case for a long time, and the appellate attorney will need to catch up. Attorney Manosh does not only review the trial transcripts - she will review all case documents in order to see the full picture of the case. Next, the appellate attorney will prepare the 12A statement or case brief. This is the written presentation of the appellate issues to the Rhode Island Supreme Court. This document needs to follow all of the Court's rules, but more importantly it needs to persuade the Court that this case deserves to have the conviction vacated. Additional written briefs could be requested by the Court, or presented by the attorney if necessary. Finally, the appellate attorney prepares to make an oral presentation to the Rhode Island Supreme Court. This is a formal court hearing where the Supreme Court justices listen to the arguments and ask all of their questions about the case. There are strict time limits, so the argument must be persuasive and thorough.
Who makes the decision?
The Rhode Island Supreme Court is comprised of five justices. These five justices will usually all participate in the decision of the case. They will read all of the written materials submitted and will attend the oral argument. They will then work together to decide what the result of the case should be. The majority wins, so our goal is convince at least three justices to vacate the conviction. Every case will receive a written decision explaining why the justices reached their decision.
Can the Supreme Court dismiss the case?
Generally, the Rhode Island Supreme Court will only do one of two things in criminal cases: Affirm the conviction, which means the conviction stands, or remand the case to the Superior Court, which means the conviction is vacated and returns to the posture it was in before trial. Winning in the Supreme Court usually means that you win a new trial. However, if the Supreme Court rules that evidence should have been suppressed, the Superior Court may dismiss the case when it is remanded. The State could also make a new offer, or dismiss the case for other reasons. Every case is different, and Attorney Manosh will review the possible outcomes when you meet for a case strategy session.
Can the Supreme Court award bail pending appeal?
Yes, it is possible to petition the Rhode Island Supreme Court for bail while waiting for the appellate decision. This is a rare outcome, so it is a good idea to make this argument in the trial court first, but there is certainly a mechanism for the Supreme Court to consider this possibility.
All of your questions are important to me, so please write them all down and bring them to our case strategy session.