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The Importance of Preserving Errors for Appeal in New York Criminal Trials

In a New York criminal jury trial, the judge has several critical roles. In general terms, the judge determines the “rules” by which the trial will be conducted. For example, the judge will resolve all pretrial motions, manages the jury selection process, rules on objections during the trial, and instructs the jury at the conclusion of the trial. One of the most essential roles of a judge is also to act as the gatekeeper, meaning the judge will determine which evidence will be presented to the jury.

Not surprisingly, a judge’s rulings on these issues can drastically affect the outcome of a trial. And because judges are human, they are prone to making errors. In fact, that is the very purpose of the New York appellate process; to review the trial court’s legal decisions which led to a conviction. Thus, when a party believes that a judge made an error at trial, that party must object. When a party objects to a ruling, they must state the basis for the objection. Typically, when an objection is made, the judge will hear argument on the objection outside the presence of the jury and issue a ruling. It is up to the party making the objection to make sure the judge knows the basis of the objection and is aware of the legal support behind the objection.  AS a general principle the Judge must be given an opportunity to fix the error in order to preserve your right to appeal on an issue.

When an appellate court grants review of a case, it will typically consider all arguments raised in the defendant’s brief. However, an appellate court may apply various standards when reviewing an error. For issues that were properly raised at trial, an appellate court uses what is called “de novo” review, meaning that the court will not give the lower court’s decision any deference.

Some errors are subject to review on appeal even without an objection. However, the legal standard that governs these issues is exceedingly difficult to meet. The exact standard used by the courts depends on the nature of the error, but rather than de novo review, a court may only reverse a lower court in the event of a “plain error.”

No matter how strong a case may seem, there is always a chance that the judge can make a surprising adverse ruling that severely hampers a defendant’s defense. In these cases, defense counsel must take all necessary steps to preserve any and all appellate issues to ensure that, if convicted, all appellate rights are preserved.

An experience trial attorney must be careful, however, about making objections in front of jurors.  Sometimes an objection may serve to highlight a damaging piece of evidence or too many objections may annoy a jury.  An experienced trial attorney must strike a delicate balance between preserving issues for appeal but also trying his or her hardest to win the case so that an appeal is not necessary.

Contact an Experienced New York Criminal Defense Attorney

Not every case is won. That is a reality of the criminal process. Judges routinely mistakes, which can either make it easier for the prosecution to prove their case or may negatively impact a defendant’s ability to defend the case. It is critical that anyone facing serious New York felony charges work with a knowledgeable and dedicated attorney to preserve all appellate rights. At Tilem & Associates, we have decades of experience handling all types of criminal trials and appeals, and understand how to preserve all issues for appeal. We handle New York gun possession cases, theft crimes, and drug offenses, as well as other serious crimes. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 877-377-8666 today.

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