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Reasons to Appeal a Guilty VerdictA guilty verdict in a courtroom is not always the end of your criminal case. In Illinois, you have 30 days after your verdict to file a notice to appeal the ruling to a higher court. The appellate court can either affirm the ruling of the lower court or reverse part or all of the ruling, which could mean that the charges are dismissed or the lower court must retry the case under new instructions. Not every guilty verdict is worth appealing if there is practically no chance that it will be successful. However, there are some cases where it is in your best interest to appeal.

Disagreeing with the Verdict

When appealing a verdict, you must state which parts of the lower court’s rulings you dispute and the legal reason why you dispute it. Many criminal appeals argue that the appellate court should overturn the guilty verdict for reasons such as:

  • The verdict going against the evidence in the case;
  • The judge giving the jury incorrect instructions;
  • The court allowing the prosecution to use inadmissible evidence;
  • The court misinterpreting or misapplying the law; or
  • Any other factor that made the trial unfair to the defendant.

In cases with multiple charges, you can choose whether to dispute the verdict on individual charges. Most appellate court judges do not overturn a lower court ruling unless there was a clear mistake during the trial that affected the outcome of the case. Even if they disagree with the verdict, they will defer to the judgment of the lower court unless that judgment was unreasonable and against the manifest weight of the evidence. If they do overturn the ruling, they may send the case back to the lower court for a new trial.

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