Thursday, May 15, 2014

Appealing Wrongful Convictions

A criminal case is started, evidences are presented, witnesses give their testimonies, and the defendant is declared guilty and meted the corresponding punishment. This is a usual scenario in criminal courts all over the country. What happens, however, if the defendant is actually innocent of the crime he was accused of? Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of those in the justice system, wrongful convictions do happen.

Conviction vs. Near Miss

Researchers who have looked into wrongful convictions differentiate these from “near misses” where those who were wrongly accused of a crime were eventually acquitted or had charges against them dropped. Wrongful convictions are terrible events, particularly when the accused has already served all or part of the sentence, as no amount of compensation or apologies can take back the unwarranted punishment the accused had to go through.

Appeals Court

Those convicted of a crime can, however, appeal the verdict in a higher court. In most appeal cases, it is not the jury’s decision that is being challenged but any legal errors that might have taken place during the trial. While the lawyer who defended the accused in the trial can represent his client in the appeals proceedings, attorneys who specialize in appeals and post convictions are often called upon at this stage.

A convicted person may also ask for a re-investigation and a new trial if new evidences or developments that can point to his innocence are unearthed.

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