Challenging a Criminal Conviction

Once your loved one has been convicted and sentenced to prison, it is easy to become discouraged and feel that all hope is lost. It’s not. Many post-conviction remedies are available to challenge a criminal conviction in Georgia. The rights of the convicted are more limited than the rights of the accused, but a skilled appeals attorney can pursue legal options to seek release for convicted people.

No area of criminal practice demands more knowledge, skill, and experience than challenging a conviction or seeking a new trial through appeal, however. Once a defendant enters a plea of guilty, or is convicted after a trial, he no longer enjoys the presumption of innocence. In order to obtain a new trial, the burden is on the defendant to demonstrate that a substantial legal error occurred during the trial process.

Criminal Appeals Attorneys with A Winning Track Record

Maddox Kilgore and Carlos Rodriguez have more than three decades of combined experience as criminal appeals lawyers in Cobb County, representing people who have been wrongly convicted or improperly imprisoned in criminal appeals and other post-conviction matters. Our firm is entirely dedicated to criminal defense. We understand how the state is preparing your prosecution, and how to successfully counter it.

Maddox Kilgore is a former Georgia felony prosecutor. He and Carlos have questioned or cross-examined a wide variety of expert and professional witnesses, such as police officers, homicide detectives, medical examiners, chemists, toxicologists, firearms examiners, blood spatter experts, DNA scientists, arson investigators, cell phone experts, medical doctors, bankers, and child abuse experts.

Located in Marietta, GA, appeals attorneys Kilgore and Rodriguez will provide a free consultation to help determine whether there is legal merit to challenge a criminal conviction. We will only take on a case and represent an appellant if we see a legal pathway to the successful appeal of a conviction. We pride ourselves on strict professionalism and rely on referrals from satisfied clients for the vast majority of our business.

At Kilgore & Rodriguez, we have a track record of winning on appeal. As a former law assistant on the Georgia Supreme Court, Maddox understands what the appellate courts are looking for and how to best present a compelling appeal. As a former Assistant Attorney General, Maddox honed his skills in legal research, writing legal briefs, and arguing appeals before the Georgia Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. That experience has resulted in the following winning appeals:

  • Chavez-Ortega v. State, 331 Ga. App. 500 (2015)

  • Tindell v. State, 314 Ga. App. 91 (2012)

  • Hedden et. al. v. State, 288 Ga. 871 (2011)

  • Fedak v. State, 304 Ga. App. 580 (2010)

  • Nelson v. State, 302 Ga. App. 583 (2010)

  • State v. Goode, 298 Ga. App. 749 (2009)

  • Robinson v. State, 286 Ga. 42 (2009)

  • Boivin v. State, 289 Ga. App. 411 (2009)

  • Dunagan v. State, 283 Ga. 501 (2008)

  • Jones v. State, 294 Ga. App. 169 (2008).

Understanding Appeals

Criminal appeals usually argue that a case should be dismissed or retried based on key legal mistakes. Did the trial judge make an erroneous ruling which affected the fairness of the trial? Did the trial attorney make a prejudicial mistake, or did the prosecutor do something improper? Finding legal errors which might entitle a defendant to a new trial is complicated and painstaking work. Convicted people need advocates with expert knowledge of the legal process.

The appeals process can be intimidating, but we have experience helping appellants succeed. We review cases, then submit a written brief to the appellate court, including copies of the transcript from the trial and any exhibits that were used.

The appellate court will review the trial record, possibly hearing oral arguments from both parties, looking for significant errors that may have affected the outcome of the case. They often rule that the case should stand, even if minor errors were made. Appellants then have the opportunity to file a writ of certiorari, or an appeal to a higher court, claiming that the lower court has ruled improperly.

If an appellate court finds significant errors, they may decide that the case should be retried. The appellate court also has the power to overturn a verdict or alter a sentence. If key evidence supporting the prosecution's case is ruled inadmissible, the prosecuting attorney may see it in the government's best interests to drop charges rather than face a retrial that would likely be won by the defendant.

Our legal system is adversarial. When prosecutors see that they face strong legal advocates, they may decide to dismiss a case after a successful appeal. Kilgore and Rodriguez offer clients a wealth of real courtroom experience and decades of success in Georgia criminal appeals cases.

Probation Revocation

A skilled criminal defense attorney can help people facing probation revocation avoid returning to jail. The legal standard of proof in these hearings is Preponderance of Evidence, meaning that probation can be revoked if the judge finds it merely more likely than not that allegations of probation violation are true. We may be able, though, to negotiate a modification of the probation agreement that does not involve incarceration or contest the allegations contained in the revocation petition at a hearing. Even facing probation revocation, you have legal options.

Courts also have the authority to modify the terms of sentences or probation. They are typically reluctant to reduce a prison sentence without meaningful changes in the case, though, especially when the sentence was negotiated as part of a plea arrangement. Kilgore and Rodriguez have successfully petitioned courts for sentence modification for convicted people with merit to their claims.

Many convicted people work hard to turn their lives around. Probation is meant to be an opportunity to do just that. If someone has completed a significant portion of their probation and can demonstrate rehabilitation to the court – continued employment, completion of drug and alcohol treatment – we can request a modification or early termination of the sentence. We may be able to convince the court that ankle monitors can be safely removed or that burdensome fines be satisfied through community service work. Georgia sex crime probation, in particular, often comes with extremely difficult conditions that may not really be appropriate to a case. Kilgore and Rodriguez can help.

Understanding Habeas Corpus

Habeas Corpus is the principle that citizens of the United States should not be illegally detained or imprisoned. In our legal system, individuals being held may ask the court to order state officials to prove the legality of their arrest and imprisonment. If the court finds the warden or other custodian has no legal justification to hold the prisoner, it may order his release. Habeas corpus is the best legal tool available to Georgia appeals attorneys to prevent unlawful and unconstitutional imprisonment of their clients. 

Habeas Corpus can be sought by a prisoner who has lost an appeal, or who has been wrongfully convicted due to a violation of their constitutional rights – often with coerced testimony or tainted evidence. Not all defense attorneys achieve optimal results for their clients, and Georgia’s legal defense system is simply too strained to provide adequate representation to people who rely on public defenders. Many people are convicted in court or make bad plea decisions due to ineffective representation.  

Marietta appeals lawyers Maddox Kilgore and Carlos Rodriguez have the real courtroom experience and knowledge of the criminal appeals process to evaluate cases and find the constitutional violations that can get convictions reversed. We conduct thorough investigations of all police work and court proceedings. We only take on criminal defense cases with merit and have decades of experience seeking justice for the wrongfully incarcerated.

 

Criminal Appeal & Post-Conviction Case Results

Sexual Exploitation/Child Pornography

SEXUALLY DANGEROUS PREDATOR LEVEL REDUCED


Client on probation for possessing deleted images of child pornography on an old hard drive. The Sex Offender Registration Review Board erroneously classified client as a Sexually Dangerous Predator, which requires lifetime GPS monitoring. Kilgore & Rodriguez worked with a sex-offender expert and challenged credibility of the government doctors. Kilgore & Rodriguez won the trial and client no longer classified a sexually dangerous predator.

- Fulton County, 2018
Enticing a Minor Child

RETROACTIVE FIRST OFFENDER GRANTED


Retired insurance executive spent years in prison and more than 8 years on probation and parole. K&R asked the court to retroactively grant first offender status and terminate the case. After the hearing, the superior court judge apologized to client for the injustice which occurred and advised it was her honor to grant the requested relief: retroactive first offender granted / case terminated / removal from the sex-offender registry.


- Douglas County, 2018
Cruelty to a Child First Degree

PROBATION TERMINATED EARLY


Young man serving a probated sentence for cruelty to a child deserved the opportunity to move beyond his sentence and the worst day of his life. Seeking to reunite with the child, K&R successfully argued for early termination of his probated sentence. The young man was able to get a jump start on the rest of his life.




- Cobb County, 2017
Appeal Won

TRIAL COURT REVERSED


K&R challenged the statements made by client during an unlawful and unconstitutional roadside interrogation. Following a lengthy evidentiary hearing, a Cobb County State Court judge rejected K&R’s argument. The Cobb judge’s erroneous ruling was then taken up to the Court of Appeals of Georgia, which unanimously agreed with K&R that the statement was an unlawful violation of client’s MIRANDA rights. As a result, the client’s statements were thrown out and his charges reduced with no jail time.

- Court of Appeals of Georgia, 2015
 

What Our Clients Are Saying

 

“I was wrongly violated on felony probation in Cobb County. I had several consultations with different lawyers, but being that it was my third revocation nobody really seemed interested in my story… Mr. Rodriguez had my best interest in mind. He believed in me and my case. I had all the odds stacked against me. In less then 24 hours after my Initial consultation he had my warrant lifted and I was back on good terms with probation. This guy works miracles!!!!!!” — Carmalita