What Happens If You Win Your Appeal
Updated: Feb 11
Reversal for New Trial
If you win your appeal, there will most likely be a Reversal for New Trial. When the appellate court reverses the trial court decision, a new trial is ordered that puts you back in the position you were in before trial court. If the appellate court ruled that the trial court admitted certain evidence against you that should not have been admitted, the state may decide that it cannot win a new trial without that evidence and dismiss the case against you. Otherwise, you may be given the chance to negotiate a plea bargain and, if unsuccessful, will be retried.
Reversal for New Trial on Punishment
If the appellate court reverses the trial court based on an error that happened during the punishment stage of trial, the appellate court will order a new trial on punishment. This means that the guilty verdict will remain but you will get a new trial on punishment and receive a new sentence.
Reversal and Acquittal
In rare cases, the appellate court will find that the evidence was “insufficient” to support a conviction. The appellate court will reverse the trial court and acquit you of the charges. You cannot be retried for that offense based on double jeopardy.
Finality of Court of Appeals’ Ruling
In any of the above scenarios after you win on appeal, the court of appeals’ decision is not final and could still be overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal court. If the prosecution decides to appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, that court will decide if it will hear the case and, if so, could reverse the court of appeals’ decision.
Can I Get a Harsher Sentence on Retrial?
Possibly, depending on your case.
In most situations when you “win” on appeal, the appellate court will order a new trial in the trial court. If the trial judge (rather than a jury) determined your sentence in the first trial, then on retrial, the trial judge cannot give you a harsher sentence unless he states a reason for doing so based on something you did that neither the judge nor the prosecution knew about during the first trial. This is because there is a “presumption of vindictiveness” when the same judge gives a higher sentence on retrial after a defendant wins on appeal.
For example, if you committed another offense after your first trial, the prosecution could present evidence of this offense during your retrial and the trial judge could use this as a reason to give you a higher sentence on retrial.
If you elected to have a jury (rather than a judge) determine your sentence in the first trial, a new jury on retrial is not limited by the punishment given by the first jury. Similarly, if you decide on retrial to have the judge determine punishment, the judge is not limited by what the jury gave you on your first trial.