Texas Criminal Appellate Law, Dallas Criminal Appeals Lawyer John Helms Educates – What are Acquittals versus Appeals? – GlobeNewswire

Dallas, TX, Jan. 08, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — For many people, the legal terminology involved in a criminal case can be confusing or overwhelming. When your freedom is at stake, you might feel frustrated by an unfamiliar process and all the new words and phrases that go along with it. 

One area that can spark confusion is the difference between being acquitted of a crime and filing an appeal after a conviction. Navigating the criminal justice system is difficult for most people, which is why it’s important to discuss your case with an experienced Texas criminal appeals lawyer as soon as possible.

What is Acquittal vs. Appeal?

In short, an acquittal means a person goes all the way through a criminal trial and is ultimately found not guilty. There is no reason to appeal their case because the court or jury has determined that they are not guilty of any offense.

When someone is acquitted, the government cannot appeal the jury’s finding of not guilty, but in some circumstances, the government can appeal jury instructions, rulings on evidence, and the like. By contrast, someone who is convicted of a crime has the right to appeal their conviction to a higher court.

If you’ve been acquitted of some charges but not others, you can appeal the charges that resulted in a conviction.

Depending on the circumstances of the conviction, you may also be able to file a motion asking for a mistrial due to an error or some sort of prosecutorial or juror misconduct during your trial. 

When someone files an appeal, they ask a higher court to review the trial court’s decision and to change it or reverse it, or to send the case back for a new trial. In most cases, the defendant appeals the actual conviction.

However, there are instances where a defendant might appeal the sentence rather than the conviction. 

Courts of Appeal in Texas

In Texas, there are 14 courts of appeal, which are considered intermediate courts. Courts of appeal hear cases from both the criminal system and the civil system. The courts of appeal are assigned cases within their geographical jurisdiction. 

Every court of appeal in Texas has a chief justice and a minimum of two additional justices that hear cases as part of a panel. Under Texas law, there can be up to 13 justices on a court of appeal. 

How an Appeal Works

In state court, the appeals process typically starts with the defendant filing a “notice of appeal” within a certain timeframe.  This is a short document saying that the defendant intends to appeal. It’s very important to file the notice of appeal before the filing deadline, as missing this deadline can result in the defendant losing their right to an appeal. 

After the notice of appeal has been filed, the defendant will file a “brief,” which is a written argument identifying errors that the trial court made and arguing why the errors justify a new trial, a reversal of the conviction, or other relief. 

Once the defendant files their brief, the government will respond with its own brief, which responds to the defendant’s brief.

After that, the defendant can file a reply brief, which responds to the government’s brief.  A reply brief cannot raise new arguments or claimed errors that were not made in the original brief. 

The appeals court, which is made up a panel of judges, will then either decide the appeal just based on the briefs, or the court may hear oral arguments from both sides. During oral argument, it’s typical for the judges to ask each side questions about their position on the issues in the case. 

It’s important to note that the appeals court can only review the parts of the trial case in which the defendant asserts that the trial court got it wrong. That is, the appellate court can’t simply redo the entire trial.  An appeal is not a “second opinion.” The appeals court will uphold the conviction unless there was a serious error, even if the appeals court judges might not agree with the outcome. 

If the appeals court upholds the defendant’s conviction, the defendant then has the right to ask the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (the state’s highest criminal court) to consider the appeal.  An appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeals is not automatic. That court gets to decide which cases it wants to consider. The Court of Criminal Appeals actually accepts a low percentage of the cases that it is requested to hear.  If the Court of Criminal Appeals agrees to consider the appeal, you still have to convince that court that you should win.

If the Court of Criminal Appeals refuses to consider the appeal, or if it upholds the conviction, the defendant may be able to ask the Supreme Court of the United States to hear their case. However, the U.S. Supreme Court accepts very few cases, and only those that raise important legal or constitutional issues that would apply to cases around the country. 

Can You File an Appeal If You Pleaded Guilty?

The fact that you pleaded guilty does not technically mean that you cannot appeal.  However, the situations in which you might actually win on appeal are very limited, because you have admitted you are guilty.  In fact, in most plea agreements, the defendant gives up the right to appeal as part of the plea bargain, except in extremely limited circumstances.  

When a person or a family member comes to me about a possible appeal after a guilty plea, I normally offer to investigate the possibility of an appeal for a reduced rate rather than agreeing to file an appeal brief.  If I investigate and believe that there is no basis for an appeal, I tell them. If I think there is a possible basis for an appeal, we can discuss whether they want to proceed. I do this is because it is rare that there is any real basis to appeal after a guilty plea.

Working with a Texas Criminal Appeals Lawyer

Appeals cases can be quite complex, which is why it’s in your best interest to work with a lawyer who has experience handling Texas criminal appeals cases. If you have been convicted of a crime, talk to a knowledgable Texas criminal appeals lawyer like Attorney John Helms in Dallas about your case.  

John Helms Texas Criminal Appellate Lawyer

Media contact:

R. William

 (214) 666-8010

Sources:

  1. https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/CR/htm/CR.44.htm 
  2. https://www.txcourts.gov/about-texas-courts/courts-of-appeals/ 

This news has been published for the above source. Law Office of John M. Helms [ID=12599]

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Twitter and Facebook both banned Trump from their platforms. Here's why that doesn't violate the First Amendment — or any other laws

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After months of escalating tensions between President Donald Trump and social media companies, Twitter and Facebook finally decided this week that the president had crossed a line too far.

On Wednesday, after Trump incited a mob of his supporters, thousands of them violently stormed the US Capitol, where Congress was voting to certify the results of the election, in an attempted insurrection that left five dead.

Though Trump posted a video briefly denouncing the violence, he then continued to use social media platforms to praise his supporters and once again repeat debunked conspiracy theories about the election.

Twitter and Facebook, both of which have policies against inciting violence, undermining democratic processes, and spreading election misinformation, decided that — given the impact that the president’s comments were having and continue to have — they would no longer let him use their platforms.

Twitter suspended Trump’s personal account, @realDonaldTrump, permanently, citing “the risk of further incitement of violence.” Facebook and Instagram suspended Trump “indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”

Read more: Google and Apple are banning Parler from their app stores for allowing violent content in the wake of attempted insurrection that left 5 dead

Within hours of Twitter’s ban on Friday, Trump tried to bypass it by tweeting from the official presidential account, @POTUS. He posted a series of tweets railing against the social media company for “banning free speech” and taking aim at one of his favorite targets, Section 230. (Twitter quickly removed the tweets.)

But Trump’s implication — that Twitter somehow violated his First Amendment right to free speech — is a complete misunderstanding of what the First Amendment says.

Here’s why Twitter and Facebook, like other social media companies, have the right to ban Trump, and why Trump and other far-right politicians often take it out on Section 230.

What is the First Amendment?

The First Amendment to the US Constitution says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” [emphasis added].

In other words, it bans the government from infringing on free speech (with some limited exceptions).

What does that mean for social media companies?

Not much.

“The First Amendment is a constraint on the power of government. It doesn’t apply to Twitter,” said Daphne Keller, an attorney and internet law expert who leads the program on platform regulation at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center, adding: “Twitter is not a state actor.”

Why are Trump and his allies so mad then?

Trump, his allies, and others who have been hit with account suspensions, had warning labels applied to their posts, or had their advertising revenue shut off by companies like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube may disagree with those companies’ rules or approach to enforcing them — or they may just be mad that they can’t get their message out or make money from their audience or advertisers.

But legally, there’s very little they can do.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 gives legal protections to “interactive computer services” — like social media companies — that: 1) prevents them from being held liable for content posted by their users (with some limited exceptions), and 2) allows them to moderate content on their sites as they see fit.

“Section 230 makes it relatively easy for platforms to go to court and win saying ‘we have the right to enforce whatever policies we want,'” Keller said. But even without Section 230, she said, Twitter would win if Trump sued “based on their own First Amendment right to set editorial policy on the platform.”

So, why do Trump and his allies still want to get rid of Section 230?

Trump and many far-right politicians have repeatedly claimed (without evidence) that social media companies are systemically biased against them, and they believe repealing or curbing Section 230 would allow them to use the government to deny Section 230’s legal protections to platforms that aren’t “politically neutral.”

Ironically, that’s exactly what the First Amendment prohibits, which legal experts quickly pointed out when Trump tried to use executive orders to accomplish that last summer. (Still, Trump loyalists in the Federal Communications Commission tried to implement it anyway.)

What would happen if they did repeal Section 230? 

Ignoring for a second that it’s legal for social media companies to be “biased” when enforcing content rules, right-wing politicians’ criticisms of Section 230 tend to ignore several key facts about who social media currently benefits — and who it would benefit if they repealed the law.

First, the evidence has consistently shown that conservatives tend to enjoy some of the widest reach and engagement on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube — or at the least, conservatives have failed to produce evidence that their views are being silenced or their reach is being throttled.

Second, if social media companies lost the legal protections offered by Section 230, they would be more, not less likely to remove questionable content from their sites, because they’d (rightfully) be fearful of getting sued.

That purge could very likely hurt far-right accounts — something Facebook itself has implicitly acknowledged, according reports from The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

And increased legal liability could also make it harder for new competitors, like “alternative” social media sites Parler, Gab, and MeWe — where Trump supporters have flocked due to their lax approaches to regulating content — to get off the ground in the first place.

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7 TV Shows Like 'Criminal Minds' to Watch if You Can't Believe It's Over – Decider

After 15 seasons, Criminal Minds has finally come to an end. The crime drama, which first premiered on CBS in 2005, took us into the world of the FBI’s most elite criminal profilers, a team who worked together to track down notorious killers, kidnappers, and more.

While fans stuck with Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness), and Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore), for years, it’s finally time to say goodbye to the crew now that Criminal Minds is calling it quits with the end of Season 15, which wraps up next month.

Thankfully, the past seasons of the show will still be available to stream on platforms like Netflix. But what about if you’re looking for some new crime content? We’re here to help. Once Criminal Minds is over, we’ve rounded up a list of similar shows to turn to next, from Law & Order: SVU to Mindhunter.

Read on for our full list of shows like Criminal Minds.


1

‘Law & Order: SVU’

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Photo: NBC

If you’re hooked on Criminal Minds, you’ve got to check out Olivia Benson and her squad on Law & Order: SVU. The Dick Wolf series, now in its 22nd season, has been on air since 1999, and there’s a reason why they’re still churning out new seasons after all of these years — they’ve nailed the crime drama formula. Benson and her team help victims and track down the criminals with a satisfying end to each and every episode, but the story never gets old.

Where to Watch Law & Order: SVU 


2

‘Dexter’

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Photo: Everett Collection

To watch a crime thriller from a new perspective, stream Dexter next. While Criminal Minds is all about the team chasing down the perpetrators and getting in their heads, Dexter plain shows us the criminal himself, a killer with a conscience who works for the police department by day and murders his victims by night, choosing people he deems evil enough to kill. Michael C. Hall stars as the vigilante serial killer, and he’ll be returning to the role for a Dexter Showtime revival this year.

Where to watch Dexter 


3

‘NCIS’

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Photo: CBS

Like Criminal Minds, NCIS follows the agents working to stop notorious killers, terrorists and more. Led by Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), the team of investigators use their different backgrounds and skills to thwart the plots of evil masterminds across the country. Like Law and Order: SVU, NCIS has developed a cult following since it first premiered in 2003, and it’s still going strong on CBS today.

Where to watch NCIS


4

‘Forensic Files’

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Photo: HLN

While it’s not a drama like Criminal Minds, Forensic Files delivers all of the true crime content you could ever want. The docuseries follows forensic scientists as they deconstruct real-life crimes, using evidence left behind by perpetrators to solve the case. Examining accidents, violent incidents, and outbreaks of disease, the Forensic Files team takes viewers behind the scenes to show what it takes to unravel the mystery behind each crime.

Where to watch Forensic Files 


5

‘Bones’

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Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) team up on Bones, a crime drama all about their work solving complex cases. Temperance, who has earned the nickname “Bones” for her ability to solve cases through skeletons when bodies are badly decomposed, and Seeley, a cocky former Army sniper, form a quirky, unexpected duo with their sleuthing skills, helping to crack some of the toughest cases around.

Where to watch Bones


6

‘Mindhunter’

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Photo: Netflix

While we only have two seasons (for now), we wish we had more of Mindhunter, David Fincher’s chilling Netflix series about FBI criminal profilers Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany). By studying the minds and motives of serial killers, the agents try to track them down and stop them from committing more murders. Using their new method of identifying and finding killers, Holden and Bill help forge the way for future criminal profilers.

Stream Mindhunter on Netflix


7

‘Hannibal’

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Photo: NBC

Silence of the Lambs series Hannibal stars Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, a criminal profiler working with psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). While Will and Hannibal form an impressive and successful partnership, the brilliant doctor is hiding a nasty secret from his partner. Sadly, Hannibal ended in 2015, but we’re getting another Silence of the Lambs series, a CBS drama titled Clarice, in February.

Where to Watch Hannibal

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