For individuals convicted of a crime who are now facing incarceration with possibly long sentences that they feel are unjust or unusually harsh, there may be a way to reverse the process that does not involve the lengthy procedure of an appeal of a lower court’s decision.
Appeals are complicated and must be filed within a certain time frame. The individual’s representative must file a notice of appeal along with an appellate brief laying out the reasons behind the appeal. An appeal can only be used to challenge procedural errors or in how the law was applied. And, most importantly, an appeal of a conviction in which the individual pleaded guilty, or no contest, is usually denied.
Vacating a conviction
To vacate a conviction is to set aside the verdict, as if the trial and conviction never happened. While this opens up the possibility for the prosecution to once again file charges and begin another criminal proceeding, it can provide temporary relief and give the individual more time to build a stronger defense.
The rules for vacating a verdict are state-specific, but there are general grounds for filing such a motion:
- Ineffective counsel
- Breach of a plea agreement
- Court bias
- Juror misconduct
The grounds for filing a motion to convict must fall within the stated grounds or the motion will not go through.
Vacating a criminal judgement in New York
Criminal Procedure Law 440 is a motion that allows those convicted of a crime in New York to seek to have their judgements vacated. The 440 motion is a useful alternative to an appeal in that it allows defendants to introduce new facts that are outside the trial record. When the motion is granted, a new trial may begin under new circumstances that may be more advantageous to the defendant. Among the grounds for successfully vacating a conviction are:
- Trial of the case in a court that did not have jurisdiction
- Evidence of misrepresentation, fraud or duress in the procurement of the judgement
- False material evidence
- Mental incapacity of the defendant
- Discovery of new evidence that could affect outcome
If you want effective and experienced Brooklyn-based criminal defense representation to help you navigate the complexities of state or federal laws as you fight the charges, the attorneys at Kushner Law Group, PLLC will provide the support you need.