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When and How to Appeal a Criminal Sentence

If you’ve been convicted of a crime, you have the right to appeal your sentence to a higher court. The appeals court will affirm the decision made by the sentencing judge unless legal or factual errors have been made in the original case.

Legal errors

You have the best chance of success in an appeal if the sentencing judge has made a mistake in applying the law to your case. The judge might have applied the wrong sentencing factors, ignored mitigating or favorable factors, or applied the wrong penalty provisions. In these situations, the appeals court will send the case back to the lower court judge for resentencing. Keep in mind that this does not necessarily prevent the judge from applying the same sentence or sometimes a more severe sentence — so you should be sure to weigh the pros and cons of appealing in the first place.

Factual errors

Judges are required to state the factors they rely on to formulate their sentences. If the evidence considered is incorrect or inadmissible, you may appeal on those grounds. Should the appeals court decide the factual errors were not determinative of the sentence you received, it might not require a re-sentencing in its decision.

For more information about when and how to appeal a criminal sentence, contact skilled Reading criminal defense lawyer David R. Eshelman.

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