Sexual Abuse - Plaintiff Law

Appealing a Sexual Abuse Decision in Court

This content contains sensitive subject matter related to sexual abuse.

After going through a difficult trial for a sexual abuse lawsuit, a survivor of sexual abuse may be devastated to hear the verdict from the jury that the defendant is not liable. Juries can be unpredictable. Even if you had a strong case, the jurors may have focused on the wrong thing and come to an unfair decision.

There are options for appealing a sexual abuse decision in court. Appeals can be more complicated, but it may give you another shot at seeking justice. If you have questions about taking your lawsuit to an appellate court, talk to an experienced sexual abuse attorney for legal advice.

What Is an Appeal?

An appeal is the legal process of challenging the trial court’s decision. In an appeal, the party is asking for a higher review of the court’s decision, hoping to get a different outcome. Either side can appeal the verdict. The person filing the appeal is the appellant and the party responding is the appellee or respondent.

An appeal gives the appellant the chance to bring up specific errors in the trial or the trial judge’s ruling. Some errors are considered harmless and will not change the outcome. If the appeals court finds a reversible error, they can remand the case, or send the case back to the trial court with specific instructions. The court can also modify or correct the trial court’s decision. In some cases, the appeals court can also order a new trial.

When Can I Appeal a Sexual Abuse Decision?

If you are not happy with the way your case turned out, you may have a chance to have a higher court review your case. But just because you didn’t like the outcome doesn’t mean you can get a new trial. There have to be grounds for an appeal to have the decision reversed. Grounds for filing an appeal in sexual abuse cases may include:

  • Jury misconduct
  • Judicial misconduct
  • Insufficient evidence to support the verdict
  • Legal errors
  • Improper jury instructions

An appeal is not a chance to try the case all over again. The appeals court generally won’t consider new evidence or new arguments that could have been made at the time. Appeals generally have a higher burden than the trial court and they can be difficult to win.

Can I Appeal a Settlement Deal?

Most personal injury and sexual abuse civil lawsuits settle before they go to court. In a settlement, the defendant agrees to pay a certain amount to the plaintiff in exchange for dropping the case. A settlement can help the plaintiff make sure they get a guaranteed award and avoid the time, expense, and stress of a trial.

Once you accept a settlement and sign the settlement agreement, you will generally lose your chance to continue with your civil case against the defendant. If you later change your mind, it may be too late to go back. It is important to understand all your legal options before you agree to a settlement. In most civil sexual assault cases, you can’t appeal a settlement deal.

How Much Time Do I Have To File an Appeal?

Under state law, there is a limited amount of time to file an appeal. The time limit depends on the state or federal law where the trial took place. If you wait too long to file a notice of appeal, it may be too late to get a new trial or challenge the amount of the jury award. If you want to appeal, talk to your attorney about it as soon as possible after the court decision.

If you have any questions about the court of appeals or problems with the trial court’s decision, talk to a sexual assault lawyer in your area. The lawyer who represented you in your original trial may not be able to represent you in an appellate court, but they will be able to recommend someone to you.

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