DUIs are the cause of many accidents across the US. They cause irreparable damages to life, property, and mental health of countless people. Despite the many efforts done to curb the instances of DUIs in the country, they continue to be one of the leading causes of road accidents across the United States.
Strict DUIs laws have and fines have been implemented in many states, but the laws vary significantly across states. Punishment for driving while intoxicated range from mere fines to jail time, depending on each unique case, and the jurisdiction they fall under.
In case you have missed the memo, Illinois is one state that takes DUI charges very seriously. It is one of the only few states where a forcible blood draw is permitted if a suspected intoxicated person does not consent to chemical testing.
However, there is always the chance of someone being wrongly convicted of a DUI. In Illinois, if you are convicted, the punitive measures are substantial. After sentencing, many people ask themselves "can I appeal my DUI conviction?" If you don’t believe you deserve the sentence, you have every right to challenge and appeal it in a court in Illinois. A DUI lawyer can help guide you through the appeal process.
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Can I Appeal My DUI Conviction in Illinois?
If you have been proven to be guilty in a court of law of driving while under the influence, the courts in Illinois can punish you with several punitive measures, from the suspension of your license to even serving jail time, if the offense is serious enough. Moreover, since the state of Illinois has no ‘lookback period’, you will never be able to outlive your Driving Under the Influence conviction.
However, if you believe you have been charged unfairly, or that the trial was not properly conducted, it does not mean the end for you. You have every right to appeal to a higher court of law to overturn the judgement and make them reconsider and review your case. As with everything else, there is a proper method to appeal a DUI conviction, and it must be followed.
It is necessary to understand that appeal cases are different from regular trial cases. An appeals attorney can help you determine the best course of action. Here’s what an appeal for DUI conviction will entail.
Notice of Appeal
If you believe that the decision of your trial was unfair, or baseless, you must file a Notice of Appeal within 30 days of the DUI conviction being entered into the trial court. Before you can proceed to file an appeal, a Notice of Appeal has to be registered with the clerk of the same court that you were convicted in.
There is some paperwork to be filled out that you must comply with. Proof of service and transcript requests also need to be filed alongside the Notice of Appeal.
The Appellate Record
After your Notice of Appeal is filed and transmitted to the Court of Appeals, the Court of Appeals will consider your case and request the clerk for a record of appeals, which will include all the details of your trial case and the transcripts of your trials. This will enclose the decision of the trial, the jury, the evidence presented, and every relevant detail needed.
After the proof of transcript, Notice of Appeal and transcript requests are filed, you will need to serve it to multiple parties, including the trial court judge, court reporter, prosecutor and administrator. The court clerk will then gather the necessary documentation and present it to the Court of Appeals
Hire an Appellate Attorney
At this point, you should consider hiring a knowledgeable appellate lawyer who can guide you through a DUI conviction in Illinois. Appeal cases are handled very differently and you just cannot do one without a lawyer. Ktenas Law has several lawyers who have the skills and experience in appealing DUI convictions in Illinois.
As mentioned, appeal cases are very different from trial cases. Most of the ‘talking’ is done through written documents called ‘briefs’.
The first brief would be submitted by your lawyer and would be referred to as the ‘opening brief’. In this, your lawyer will be able to argue why your trial sentence is not reasonable. Any evidence or facts that were presented before can be highlighted again, to signify their importance.
In response, the prosecutor will submit a response brief, arguing the opposite side of why the conviction should indeed stand. Then again your lawyer would have the chance to respond to the response brief, and back and forth it would go.
Writing and filing briefs is a lengthy task, and can take up to six months before a decision can be reached. Also bear in mind that no new evidence or argument can be presented in the appellate briefs. An appeal case is a review of the trial case, and only information that was included in the trial court’s records will be accepted.
Once all the appellate briefs have been submitted, the court will assign a date for the prosecutor and defendant to present oral arguments to the judge. Each party will have a specified time to make their arguments in which they must answer any questions that the judge might have.
Appellate Court Opinions
An appeals court is different in many ways from a trial court. The appellate court’s decision is termed as an ‘opinion’ and is in written form as well. It may come immediately after the oral arguments or it may take several more months before a judge’s opinion is issued.
The written opinion would either rule that the trial case did indeed have some holes, and the sentence may be changed, or it would say that the trial was found to be satisfactory and the DUI conviction and punishment stands as specified in the trial.
What Happens If You Lose Your Appeal?
Even after losing your appeal case in a lower court, all hope is not lost. You still have the option of appealing to a superior court, or perhaps the Supreme Court of Illinois. You can continue appealing your case until you have exhausted all options.
What are the Chances of Winning an Appeal Case?
If the past records are any indication of the results of appeal DUI convictions, the chances are slim of the decision being revoked or overturned in Illinois. The chemical tests for DUIs are strong evidence, and the jury’s decisions are hardly ever renounced. If the appellant judge still deems you guilty, your sentence and conviction will remain.
In some cases though, due to legal differences or mistakes, the court of Appeals may agree with the appellant. In such a case, the trial court’s ruling may be completely overruled, or some of the terms of the sentence changed accordingly.
Fighting appeal cases is hard. There is a small window of time in which to submit your Notice of Appeal, and you must follow the specified way of doing things. Strong legal counsel may prove invaluable to you in an appeal for a DUI conviction in Illinois. Contact us today to talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer about your appeal process.