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Grounds for Appeal in North Carolina

The North Carolina Court of Appeals reviews trial court proceedings to determine whether any convictions should be overturned. Currently, 15 appellate court judges hear appeals in panels of three. If you have been convicted of a crime in North Carolina, you might have a right to appeal the court’s decision. The Court of Appeals has the authority to reverse criminal convictions in certain circumstances. In other cases, they will order a retrial, giving defendants another chance to receive a not-guilty verdict.

Who has a right to Appeal a Decision in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, Courts of Appeals have a right to correct a trial court judge when they made a serious error that resulted in an unfair trial. Defendants who enter a plea of not guilty to a criminal charge in North Carolina and who have been found guilty of that crime have a right to appeal their case. They may only appeal the decision after the court has entered a final judgment regarding the conviction.

Defendants who have to plead guilty, or who have been found guilty of a felony also have a right to appeal. They may appeal on the grounds of whether or not the sentence is supported by evidence introduced at the trial. These defendants also have a right to appeal on the issue of whether the minimum sentence falls within the correct range.

North Carolina’s criminal appeal law goes into greater specification about which defendants have a right to appeal. In some cases, defendants do not have a right to appeal an issue to the Court of Appeals and must wait and see if the Supreme Court of North Carolina takes their case up by choice. If you have questions about which appeal options are available in your case, the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, can advise you of your best legal option.

Grounds for Appealing to Correct A Trial Court Error

The following are reasons for appealing a trial court decision in North Carolina:

  • The trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction
  • The trial court failed to charge the defendant with an actual violation of criminal law
  • The criminal pleading did not clearly state the essential elements of the crime with which the defendant was charged
  • The evidence was not sufficient to convict the defendant of a crime as a matter of law
  • The conviction is not supported by evidence introduced at the trial
  • Problems with the sentence itself
  • Other errors of law that unfairly prejudiced the defendant
  • The trial court made an error in procedure, including:
    • The trial court erred when deciding on a pretrial motion
    • The trial court wrongfully denied a motion for relief for the defendant
    • The trial court made an error in giving jury instructions that were unfair to the defendant
    • The trial court wrongly denied a post-trial motion of relief
Grounds for Appeals Based on the U.S. Constitution

When the trial court engages in an action that violated the defendant’s constitutional rights, the defendant has a right to appeal. The Court of Appeals can require a re-trial in all of the following circumstances:

  • The criminal conviction violates the U.S. Constitution
  • The criminal conviction violates the Constitution of North Carolina
  • The criminal law under which the defendant was convicted is unconstitutional
  • The conduct for which the defendant was prosecuted is protected by the constitution
The State of North Carolina Also has the Right to Appeal

The State of North Carolina can appeal a not guilty verdict to the appellate division. The state may not appeal when doing so would be considered double jeopardy. The U.S. Constitution prohibits courts from trying a defendant more than once for the same crime. For example, if a court dismisses one or more counts of criminal charges, the state can appeal that decision. The state can also appeal a motion granting the defendant a new trial based on the discovery of new evidence.

Contact Us Today

The appeals process is complex and requires strict adherence to deadlines and timelines. If you have been convicted of a crime in North Carolina, we can help. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we understand how overwhelming and scary this may seem and we are here to help. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.

For your convenience and safety, we now offer phone and video conferencing. If you prefer an in-person consultation, we have three easy to reach locations in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville, and Monroe. Contact us today to learn how we can defend your rights.