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4 grounds for appeal in a Nebraska criminal case

The prosecution wins the Nebraska criminal case, and the defendant faces the penalties related to the conviction. Is this the end of the road? Fortunately, according to the Nebraska Legislature, there may be an opportunity to appeal the decision.

FindLaw explains the four reasons that a defendant may file an appeal:

1. Plain error

The mistake causes a violation of the substantial rights of the defendant. This could be an error that occurred during the trial, or it could be a mistake in the way the sentence is calculated, to name two.

2. Abuse of discretion

Judges have a lot of leeway when it comes to the sentence, even though there are some basic guidelines in place. If the ruling is arbitrary, unreasonable or clearly a mistake based on the facts of the case and the laws, the defendant may have grounds for an appeal.

3. Ineffective assistance of counsel

The Constitution guarantees the right to have adequate representation in court, as well as the right to a fair trial. If the defendant has an attorney whose conduct violates those rights, there may be grounds for an appeal. However, the defendant will have to prove that the attorney's incompetence actually affected the outcome in order to get the conviction overturned.

4. Insufficient weight of evidence

During the original case, the judge and/or jury heard the facts and the witness testimonies, as well as the prosecutor's and the defense attorney's opening and closing arguments. The appellate judges do not have the benefit of these because they merely review the transcripts of the original case. However, if a defendant can prove that there was inadmissible evidence used, or that admissible evidence was not presented, he or she may win the appeal, particularly if there is new evidence, such as DNA results, that may make a difference.

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