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Do you have any options after a conviction?

You get arrested on fraud charges, and you find yourself in court. Even from the beginning, you cannot imagine they're going to convict you. Maybe you think you did nothing wrong. Maybe, regardless of what happened, you do not think they have any evidence against you. It feels like you should get through the case and put all of this behind you quickly.

Then, stunningly, you get convicted. You can't believe it. You feel like your whole world just came crashing down around you. For the first time since you got arrested, it begins to feel like a bad dream, and you just can't escape.

Worse yet, you still think you shouldn't have gotten convicted. You think that some serious errors in court led to your conviction. You don't think it's right, fair or just. Do you have any options, or do you just have to serve your sentence?

Reversing the ruling

Fortunately, you do have options. You don't just have to accept it. Make sure you know what steps to take.

For instance, you may have the option to appeal the conviction. What you're looking for is a significant error, made by the court, that contributed to the conviction. Maybe the judge interpreted the law incorrectly, for instance, as shown by numerous precedents showing how he or she should have interpreted it.

The key lies in finding a specific mistake, though. You have to show exactly how the court mishandled the case and exactly why that led to the guilty verdict. You cannot cite minor errors or just say that you felt like it was not a fair case overall. You have to convince the appellate court that the mistakes were so bad that they compromised your right to a fair trial and they put you behind bars.

Using a writ

In some cases, when an appeal can't work, you may want to use a writ. This order comes from a higher court and it instructs the lower court to specifically take action on your behalf.

One example is when the facts of the case have changed. For instance, when technology progressed to the point that DNA evidence could see use in court, it had a drastic impact on a lot of old cases that had been decided without the input of DNA evidence, even though authorities did recover it at the scene. That new evidence could fundamentally alter the facts of the case.

Looking into your options

These examples help you see that you do have options after a conviction. Don't assume that it has to be the end of your case. Make sure you look into all of your options and understand exactly what next steps to take.

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