Lizett Schreiber
June 25, 2024

Should I Get a Different Lawyer for My Criminal Appeal Than My Trial?

When facing criminal charges, navigating the legal system can be overwhelming, especially after you've been found guilty either through trial or by pleading guilty. However, if something feels off about the trial or your plea, and you're considering appealing your conviction, you might wonder whether you have to stick with the same lawyer you had during the trial. The answer is a resounding no, and in fact, opting for a different attorney for your appeal is often in your best interest.

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

First, you might find it necessary to argue that your initial attorney's performance fell short, to the extent that your constitutional rights were violated. This would necessitate a new trial. This legal doctrine, called ineffective assistance of counsel, says that your Sixth Amendment right to an attorney was compromised at some stage—whether during plea bargaining, investigation, or trial. In certain instances, even a guilty plea can be appealed on the grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. Therefore, having a new lawyer to articulate why your initial representation was inadequate is vital to preserving your rights.

Fresh Perspective on the Case

Second, your trial attorney may have been competent, yet their strategy might have been narrowly focused, overlooking alternative aspects of your case. In such scenarios, bringing in a fresh perspective through a different appellate attorney could shed new light on the facts and potentially uncover overlooked opportunities for appeal. Crucially, a different appellate lawyer might scrutinize the facts of your case to determine if the prosecutor's office failed to disclose any material evidence—a situation known as a Brady violation—which could significantly impact your rights. These violations often surface long after a conviction, and your trial attorney, who might be considered a material witness, would be unable to represent you during the appeal process.

Specialized Skills for Appeals

Furthermore, while trial lawyers excel at presenting cases before a jury, appellate attorneys possess a distinct skill set that includes extensive research, persuasive writing, and articulate oral arguments presented before a panel of judges. Therefore, entrusting your appeal to an attorney who specializes in criminal appeals ensures that your case receives the attention and expertise it warrants.

Benefit of an Appellate Attorney During Trial

Finally, it may benefit you to have an appellate attorney sit in on the trial to identify specific appellate issues as they rise and assist your trial attorney in preserving those issues for appeal. Often, if something is not objected to at trial, the issue is waived on appeal. An appellate lawyer can help identify when objections are needed and set you up for a good appeal.


At ALH Law, Attorney Lizett Schreiber leverages over a decade of criminal law experience to champion your cause in the appellate arena. Whether you seek to appeal your conviction, petition to withdraw a plea, motion for a new trial, or address other post-conviction matters, Lizett stands ready to shepherd your case through every stage of the process. Don't hesitate to reach out today and schedule a consultation to explore your legal options.