In many instances, whether or not you were given a fair trial will not become apparent until a verdict or ruling is made in favor of the other side. It is important to realize that a guilty verdict is not the end of the road. Earlier this year, Dwaine Merchant walked away from not only a murder charge but a murder conviction as well.

In 2007, Merchant was arrested for shooting a man. During jury deliberations in his first trial, the judge declared a mistrial because the court discovered that two jurors were brother and sister. In his second trial, Merchant was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. He appealed the conviction and during the third trial, the court ruled the original mistrial was a mistake and because of the 5th Amendment due process protection against double jeopardy, Merchant could not be tried again.

What Constitutes Grounds For Appeal Of A Criminal Conviction?

Pursuant to the United States Constitution, due process is a basic human right of both citizens and non-citizens within U.S. states and territories. This assurance is inferred as part of the 5th and 14th Amendments. In particular, the 5th Amendment provides that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. The 14th Amendment contains similar language but it focuses on state and territory implementation of due process, thus ensuring that basic human rights are adhered to at all levels of our government.

In addition to the assurances provided in the 5th and 14th Amendments, the 6th Amendment of the Constitution provides that a person accused of a criminal offense has a right to a speedy trial before an impartial jury. Unfortunately, just because the U.S. Constitution mandates it does not mean criminal defendants always receive due process and a fair trial. Some arguments a person may have on appeal include but are not limited to:

  • ● Juror misconduct
  • ● Incorrect law applied
  • ● Sentencing errors
  • ● Ineffective legal counsel
  • ● Prosecutor ethical violations
  • ● False arrest

Nine years after he was initially arrested, Merchant is a free man solely because he didn't give up his defense. A defendant will not generally appeal a conviction based on a jury's interpretation of the facts because a jury's job is to interpret the facts of the case. Rather, an appeal must be based on legal technicalities. An experienced criminal defense attorney is imperative when appealing your case because criminal appeals require understanding of criminal procedural rules and timelines.

If You Weren't Given A Fair Trial, We Can Help You

Firm founder John Musca has many years of successfully arguing appeals at the state and federal level. John Musca and his team of Florida criminal defense attorneys are recognized for revisiting guilty verdicts with creative and problem solving solutions. It can take time to build an argument for your appeal and much of the time the clock starts ticking as soon as your guilty verdict is handed down. Immediate legal action is necessary.