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View Full Version : Is there a lawyer who can answer a question for my WIP?



Carrie in PA
10-14-2006, 07:11 PM
I posted this over in Novels, but I guess it makes more sense to put it here!

One of my major characters is in prison for a murder he didn't commit. He escaped from prison, and was recaptured. He now has an attorney representing him. She is convinced of his innocence and is going back through the old evidence. (Trial was almost 7 years ago.)


I don't need detailed information, because my MC is very much a legal layman. She's getting brief, periodic updates on the case, so that's what I need the info for. So my question:

What are the steps they would be going through to have his name cleared?

ETA: Is the escape a separate crime he'll be charged for, or can I kind of ignore that?

I'm assuming it has to go back in front of a judge, but does it go back through a whole trial?? And after he is ruled innocent, how long until he is released from prison?

My 72 hour Law & Order marathon hasn't helped. :ROFL:

The legal aspect is very minor to my story, but I don't want to just make stuff up. LOL!

Thanks!

BradyH1861
10-14-2006, 07:21 PM
I can answer part of your question. In Texas, escape from a correctional facility is a crime. A person would have to go through a trial if charged with it. They could elect to have a bench trial or a jury trial. I would check the statutes of the state where your WIP is set to see if it is a crime there or not.


Brady

Carrie in PA
10-14-2006, 07:38 PM
Thank you!

Soccer Mom
10-15-2006, 03:19 AM
Sending you a PM, Carrie.

Carrie in PA
10-15-2006, 05:46 AM
Got the answers I need, thanks!!!

kjasmine
11-10-2006, 03:00 AM
www.findlaw.com is loaded with tons of legal information.

ideagirl
11-15-2006, 08:15 AM
One of my major characters is in prison for a murder he didn't commit. He escaped from prison, and was recaptured. He now has an attorney representing him. She is convinced of his innocence and is going back through the old evidence. (Trial was almost 7 years ago.)

First off, keep in mind that if he escaped and was caught, and his name hasn't yet been cleared, then he's back in prison. Maybe you knew this, but just in case, there ya go--it's not like he could pay bail and just wait on the outside; he'd be right back in prison, and the escape charges would be underway or already done with, with an extra sentence for the escape added on top of his original sentence. (Is it really necessary for your plot that he have escaped?)

And second, the only way to clear his name is to appeal, and that's hard to do, especially this long after he was convicted: by that time, it's kind of late to argue that there was some problem with his original trial (e.g. he wasn't adequately represented, or the jury didn't get the right instructions from the judge--both very common arguments in criminal appeals), because he would've and should've appealed issues like that ASAP rather than waiting 7 years. Prisoners appeal as soon as they can when the issue was a problem with the original trial, and if they're indigent, they get public-defender lawyers to do the appeal for them.

So there would need to be something MAJOR, like new DNA evidence--and even that isn't always enough to get a new trial, much less to win it and be freed. I would recommend that you do a google search on "the innocence project," which is a nonprofit group dedicated to winning freedom for people who were wrongly convicted, and read about what they're doing and how they do it. It is HARD to get a convict out of jail. The lawyer representing him would most likely be this kind of lawyer (I mean an Innocence Project kind of lawyer) or even a volunteer law student (in some states, including PA, students nearing the end of law school can represent people if they're supervised by practicing lawyers--though I don't know if they're allowed to represent people convicted of such a serious crime). The reason she'd be this kind, instead of a public defender, is because the only way to get someone out of jail that long after the conviction is some humongously important thing like conclusive DNA evidence--and public defenders are so swamped with clients that they're not going around looking for DNA evidence, demanding new tests, etc. The lawyers who do that kind of work are Innocence Project lawyers... or alternately, high-paid criminal defense attorneys in private practice; but for that, this man would have to have money, or friends/family with money, to pay for that.

JudiB
11-16-2006, 05:34 AM
Hey, Jkasmine, that web site is awesome - I can even understand some of it. Just what I needed for the suit I'm writing about.
JudiB