As you work your way through a criminal case for the first time, you may find yourself encountering a lot of terms you haven’t considered before. Since these are going to have such a massive impact on your future, it’s quite important that you know how they’re going to impact your case and what they mean for your legal options.
Two such terms that often come up are “appeal” and “expungement.” These are very different, but in some ways similar, so it’s important to know what they can do for you.
What is an appeal?
Generally speaking, an appeal happens after a conviction, and it is simply a request for a different court to consider the case. The appellate court will then try to determine if the correct outcome happened the first time, essentially giving you a second opinion on the case.
It’s important to remember that appeals are typically for procedural errors or an indication that the law hasn’t been applied correctly. For instance, maybe the judge got all of the evidence right but interpreted a key law in the wrong way when convicting you. You can’t present new evidence or argue against the conviction from that direction, but you may claim that you shouldn’t have been convicted due to the misuse of the law itself.
What is an expungement?
An expungement, on the other hand, happens after you have been both convicted and sentenced. The goal of the expungement is not to change the time you have to serve or the fines you need to pay. Instead, it simply seals your record so that it is as if the conviction has been removed from your record.
One of the main reasons that people do this is because they don’t want a criminal record to come up on a background check as they try to find a place to live or get a new job. An expungement can open doors for you that may have been closed otherwise.
You can see that both of these processes can be helpful, so just be sure you know how to use them and what options you have.