Wrongful convictions do happen, probably more often than you realize. It is possible for judges and juries to get things wrong.
Depending on specific circumstances, if you feel that there was a flaw in your case and that you were wrongly sentenced, options to address your wrongful conviction include appeal, motion to correct an illegal sentence and post-conviction relief.
When is an appeal appropriate?
If you did not plead guilty during your trial, your possible grounds for appeal are greater than if you plead guilty, as pleading guilty often involves waiving your appellate rights. Appeals are a technical process that involves specific research. You have 30 days following a conviction to file a direct appeal if a legal mistake or error occurred in your case.
When is a motion to correct an illegal sentence an option?
As laws statutes change, the sentences placed on defendants also change. When a new law contradicts the sentence a person is serving, a motion to correct an illegal sentence will notify the court that a case needs review. A judge may adjust the sentence or grant the defendant a new hearing.
What is post-conviction relief?
Where appeals address legal mistakes, post-conviction relief can be for any violation of the Constitution or the Code of Criminal Procedure in Louisiana. Claims may include errors not previously known to the defense, changes in the law or newly discovered evidence. Post-conviction relief is challenging as the presumption of innocence all defendants have at trial no longer exists.
As with all things involving the law, timelines are strict and unforgiving. After you have exhausted all avenues of appeal, you have one year from the date of final conviction to file for federal post-conviction relief and two years to file for state post-conviction relief.