If you feel a court has not followed the law or legal procedures in convicting you of a crime, appealing your verdict to a higher court could be an option. Should an appeals court agree with your argument, a new trial or a reduction of your sentence may result. However, you might worry that the prosecutor in your case could also appeal to reverse an outcome in your favor.
The truth is that prosecutors have limited options to appeal to higher courts. In fact, a prosecutorial appeal could run up against constitutional protections.
Appeals to decide questions of law
According to the American Bar Association, prosecutors generally only have the right to appeal to a higher court if a lower court has ruled against them when deciding a matter of law. For example, a prosecutor may have wanted to introduce evidence into an upcoming trial but the lower court ruled against it. The prosecutor could seek an appeal to overturn the lower ruling.
Generally, these actions take place before a criminal trial commences. They do not involve a prosecutor trying to reverse the final decision of the court.
The problem of double jeopardy
If a court gives you a positive outcome, a prosecutor probably will not pursue an appeal because of the issue of double jeopardy. According to the U.S. Constitution, the government cannot try a person twice for the same crime. For this reason, a prosecutorial appeal might run the risk of a judge striking it down as unconstitutional.
Additionally, prosecution appeals are subject to the laws of the fifty states. This means Louisiana law will factor into what a prosecutor can do. This is important to keep in mind if you decide to appeal the outcome of your recent court case.