A wrongful prosecution occurs when someone who is accused of committing a crime is tried based on false information. Any guilty judgment that is based on false prosecution can be appealed, and if the information was provided by the police, the person accused of the crime may be eligible for money damages in a civil rights lawsuit.
What Can I Do if I Have Been Convicted of Crime Because of Wrongful Prosecution?
The criminal justice legal system provides an appeal process through the courts for those who feel they were wrongfully convicted. There are many reasons a convicted person would be eligible for appeal:
- Lack of your own counsel, or your counsel was inadequate to the point where is substantially affected the outcome of your trial
- The lower court not having proper jurisdiction of the you
- Material evidence that would otherwise prove your innocence is suppressed by the prosecutor
- New material evidence that has come up since the original trial that can help prove your innocence
- You have the ability to prove that your trial was based on false evidence
- The sentencing is unjust in some manner, such as an excessive term of imprisonment or parole
The key to remember about an appeal is that it is not a new trial; you are not having your case retried starting from scratch. Essentially an appeal is a review of what was said and done in the original trial. So, instead of your argument being "I am not guilty of this crime because"" it will be something like "the judgment I received in my original trial is wrong because".The only way to successfully appeal your decision is to prove that the lower court made a mistake or the prosecution did something they were not supposed to in proving its case.
If the prosecution used false evidence, even if unknowingly, to help in its case against you, this would be considered wrongful prosecution, and as indicated by the list above, you can appeal your decision.
What Does a Successful Appeal on Wrongful Prosecution Mean?
When you successfully appeal a judgment, the appeals court will reverse whatever the judgment is on the issue on appeal. This does not automatically mean that you have been proven innocent and are free to go, however. If you are convicted on a series of charges and only appeal one of those charges, it does not necessarily mean it has an impact on the judgment of any of the other charges.
In addition, an appeal may just lead to the issue being remanded back down to the lower court to be decided again, minus the mistake made the first time. That is why it is important to show that not only was false evidence used, but that minus that false evidence, there is no way you could have committed the crime for which you are accused.
Should I Consult a Criminal Defense Attorney When Applying for Appeal?
It is very wise to consult a criminal defense attorney when planning your appeal. The criminal justice system can be very complex and is full of little legal nuances of which your attorney would be aware of. Your attorney can guide you through the legal system and make sure that your interests are always fairly represented.