A person who is convicted of a crime in West Virginia has the right to appeal the conviction. Appeals usually challenge either the sufficiency of the evidence against the defendant or the various evidentiary and procedural rulings that take place during the course of a trial. As a recent case out of the West Virginia Supreme Court makes clear, a person appealing a conviction has a tough road to hoe.
Mr. Imoh was convicted on three counts of second-degree robbery and two counts of conspiracy and sentenced to 10 to 36 years in prison. At trial, three witnesses testified that Imoh and another man – Mr. Robbins – used the threat of force to rob them of their cell phones. In one instance, Robbins swiped the phone from the victim. Imoh allegedly told that victim that he would have to fight both Imoh and Robbins in order to get the phone back. In another instance, Imoh and Robbins asked two men to borrow their phones, saying that it was an emergency. Imoh then allegedly told the men that their phones “got copped” and said he would “beat their asses” if the men continued to follow him and Robbins.
Imoh later appealed the decision, arguing that he should have been acquitted of the charges against him. An acquittal means that the prosecution has failed to meet its burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the person is innocent. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction, finding that there was sufficient evidence of Imoh’s guilt. It explained that “a criminal defendant challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to support a conviction takes on a heavy burden.” That’s because the appeals court is required to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution and draw any inferences from that evidence – or credibility determinations regarding witnesses – in favor of the state. “[A] jury verdict should be set aside only when the record contains no evidence, regardless of how it is weighed, from which the jury could find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” the Court said.
In this case, the Court said there was enough evidence to show that Imoh threatened the victims with bodily harm when he and Robbins took their phones. It focused in particular on the victims’ trial testimony. “During trial, all three of the victims at issue testified that petitioner placed them in fear of bodily injury in order to take possession of their belongings,” the Court observed.
The long odds that a convicted person faces on appeal are all the more reason to fight criminal charges head on and from the outset. Despite the result in this case, it’s important to note that some appeals are successful. If you’re facing criminal charges, you should seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The West Virginia criminal defense lawyers at the Wolfe Law Firm have been serving clients throughout the state for more than 25 years. Call us at 1-877-637-5756 or contact us online for a free consultation.
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