Rights and Presumptions
Do I have different rights and presumptions at trial versus on direct criminal appeal? Hi, I’m Oklahoma City Attorney Aaron Easton and the short answer to that question is, yes you do. And in fact we’ll go ahead and lump a third criminal court process or procedure into that and that’s the post-conviction process where your rights and presumptions again change a little bit.
So today what I want to do is just touch on one right and one presumption and we’ll begin with the presumption and that’s the presumption of innocence. It’s something that’s pretty widely known and it usually comes across in the general populace as the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty and that’s there and what it does is it places on the state the burden to prove that you’re guilty of the crime you’re charged with beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s a strong constitutional right that you have to be proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s a huge deal.
If you lose that trial and you move on to your direct criminal appeal in the state of Oklahoma, you lose that presumption of innocence and this really can’t be overstated. Once you’re at the Oklahoma court of criminal appeals on your appeal, which is the court that looks at criminal appeals on the state of Oklahoma, not only will you lose the presumption of being innocent, that court will now operate with the presumption that the trial court got it right and so you have to overcome that shift, that major shift in the presumption of your innocence.
Changes in Presumption of Innocence
Now not surprisingly if you lose on criminal appeal and you move to the post-conviction process at some point, the court hearing your post-conviction case is not going to restore your presumption of innocence. In fact, they’re going to double down on that presumption that not only the trial court got it right but also the appellate court got it right and they’re going to tack on what’s known as finality. This idea that you’ve already litigated, we’re not going to re-litigate the things you already talked about and we’re not going to allow you to bring in new things that would be considered waived. So major shift from trial to appellate to post-conviction on that presumption of innocence.
The second thing is your rights and the right that I want to talk about is your right to counsel, your right to have an attorney with you. You have the United States and the Oklahoma constitutional right to have counsel with you at a criminal trial. If you’re unable to afford counsel, this probably sounds familiar, then counsel will be appointed to represent you. That is the case both for trial and on direct criminal appeal for felony convictions in the state of Oklahoma. So you have the right to counsel to represent you at both of those stages and that is great and that’s a big deal.
Lack of Right to Post-Conviction Counsel
Unfortunately, at post-conviction, if you move forward, if you are convicted, you lose your opportunity for appeal, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals finds you haven’t made a case and they uphold the conviction that the trial court handed down and you move forward in a post-conviction setting, you will not be given the right to post-conviction counsel. There’s no such thing. You don’t have that constitutional right via the United States Constitution or the Oklahoma Constitution and so if you find yourself in that scenario, you’re going to need to retain a private attorney.\
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
If you are at any of these stages in the criminal court process, it’s very important that you know and understand the rights specific and particular to you. It’s important that you speak to an attorney privately and confidentially. If you would like a free confidential meeting about your specific case, you can do so with my firm and you can reach us at (918) 932-2833.