While the criminal justice system is designed with safeguards to protect the rights of every defendant, it is still highly possible for errors or negligence to negatively affect the outcome of your case. Fortunately, there are remedies available to you if you’ve been wrongfully convicted, and your attorney will be able to help you determine the best strategies for post-conviction relief.
Two Types of Appeal
If you are attempting to correct a wrongful conviction, the first line of defense is typically a direct appeal. It is your right by law to appeal your case to a higher court if the trial court rules against you, and because errors are common in these cases, direct appeals are also quite common. The appellate court that reviews your case will depend on the jurisdiction; if you were tried in state court, for example, your case is appealed to the appeals court for that state, while federal cases are appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for your region. In the appeal, your attorney will submit a written brief (and possibly appear in court for oral arguments) citing specific instances in which errors or negligence negatively affected the outcome of your case. If the appeals court justices agree that such errors or negligence not only occurred, but may have affected the outcome, they will either remand the case back to the trial court for modifications, or overturn the conviction completely.
If direct appeals are unsuccessful, the next approach is to make a collateral appeal, which is a post-trial motion that attacks the legality of your conviction and sentence based on the errors or negligence that occurred. The most common among these is habeas corpus, which makes a direct claim that your imprisonment is in violation of the law. Other possible post-conviction relief strategies may include filing a Motion for a New Trial or a Motion to Void Correct Sentence. An experienced defense attorney will be able to help you determine which post-trial strategies are most likely to succeed when error or negligence have negatively affected the outcome of your case.