This is something we all hope we will never have to deal with. However, there may come a time when you have been wrongfully convicted of something and want to clear your name. If you or a loved one are in this situation, here are the steps you should take to get that conviction overturned.
Know Your Rights
The first important step is to know your rights. This can be done by getting a lawyer who is experienced in getting wrongful conviction cases overturned, as they are more likely to know more than other lawyers on the best approach to this. They will be able to look over the case and will tell you where you stand with getting an appeal and what the likely outcome will be.
If you are looking at getting a new trial, this has to be filed within thirty days of when the sentencing happened. You can apply for an extension to this if you miss the deadline, however, as you can probably imagine, this requires a lot more paperwork and the extension has to be granted by a judge dependent on a variety of factors. Therefore, it’s best to file your appeal within the thirty-day time limit to avoid a lot more hassle and stress.
Getting a Direct Appeal
Your lawyer will probably tell you that this is the most common way to overturn a conviction and they would be correct in saying this. Your lawyer will prepare a brief to give to an appellate court and this will be decided on by a panel of judges. They will then look at if any laws were violated that may have affected the jury’s decision.
This is also where your lawyer can make more arguments than if they were to ask for a new trial. This includes wrongdoing by the police, the jury only being allowed to see certain types of evidence, or that you were convicted under an unconstitutional law.
Writ of Habeas Corpus
This is what happens after your direct appeal. This is an argument your lawyer can make if your conviction has violated some constitutional rights. However, just like if you get a new trial, the arguments that can be made are limited and are only violations you may have only realized occurred after your direct appeal finished. Your Habeas Corpus lawyer will often be different to your trial lawyer, and this is mostly because your Habeas Corpus lawyer will argue that your trial lawyer made failings that enabled the jury to wrongfully find you guilty.
Will Taking These Steps Get the Conviction Overturned?
It is not guaranteed that going through all these steps will get the conviction overturned, however, it is always worth giving it a go. The best-case scenario will be that the conviction is overturned, hopefully, sooner rather than later, and that freedom will be rightfully returned either to you or the convicted person. However, there is also a chance that the conviction will not be overturned. This is why it is important to ensure you get the best lawyer to increase your chances of becoming free.