It’s extremely difficult to have a conviction overturned once you have been convicted, which is why it’s so vital that you obtain the services of a high-quality lawyer if you are facing a potential prison sentence. One such example of the difficulties of having a conviction overturned is the case of Benjamine Spencer.
The case of Spencer
Spencer was sent to prison for life after being charged with murder back in 1987. He refused to take a plea because he maintained his innocence. Although convicted, he continued to work with attorneys to find evidence backing his innocence. Ten years ago, a trial judge declared him innocent because the evidence used to jail him didn’t hold up. Unfortunately, it was determined that while the new evidence that was uncovered would have created reasonable doubt during his trial, it would not be enough to declare him completely innocent, and so he remained in jail.
Overturning a conviction in Arizona
The case of Spencer took place in Texas; however, getting a conviction overturned in Arizona is also difficult. The first step you need to take if you’ve been convicted of a crime that you did not commit is to motion for a new trial, which can only be done within ten days after the verdict.
A Motion for a New Trial can be granted if you can establish that the verdict went against the evidence or the law, that you did not receive a fair trial, that the jury or prosecutor engaged in some kind of misconduct in regards to the trial or that the judge was prejudiced against you.
You can also file a Motion to Vacate Judgement within 60 days of the verdict if new evidence is discovered or if the verdict violated state or federal law.
Motions vs. Appeals
Another option is to file an appeal. You can appeal the verdict, and you can also appeal any post-trial orders that affect your rights in a significant way. Appeals are reviewed by a panel of judges at a higher court. They do not involve a trial, but they do involve meticulously prepared paperwork.
Your last resort is to file a Writ of Habeas Corpus, which challenges that your detention as unlawful.
Unfortunately, many of these approaches depend on finding procedural errors or unlawful behavior from the justice system. For cases where new evidence is discovered more than 60 days – 5 months – after sentencing, options are limited. Your lawyer will be able to explain your options, and why some options aren’t viable or preferable for your specific case.
While overturning a conviction in Arizona is possible, you’ll need a very good lawyer to do so. Additionally, you’ll want a good lawyer to prevent a conviction in the first place, so contact us at Pinnacle Law for a consultation today.