Even if you're convicted of a crime after a trial, it doesn't mean you're going to go directly to jail. A jury verdict isn't final, and a judge will often delay the sentence until the remaining options are exhausted. Here are the possible ways to get out of a criminal conviction even after a jury declares you guilty.
Motion to Set Aside the Verdict
A motion to set aside the verdict is an immediate request to the trial judge to overturn a jury's verdict of guilty. For this request to be granted, there must have been no way for the jury to reasonably conclude that the prosecution proved each element of the crime.
The standard is a very high one, and the error must be clear. The judge cannot grant the motion simply because he or she disagreed with the verdict.
One example could be an armed robbery case where the prosecution was required to prove that the defendant had a weapon. If the evidence showed that the defendant demanded money from the victim but there was no mention of a weapon, a jury verdict of guilty could be set aside.
Request for a New Trial
Some states have a special lower court below their main trial court that is responsible for minor crimes. Often, these states might have relaxed rules of evidence or not even have a jury at all.
In states with this two-trial court system, the defendant is entitled to request a new trial in the main trial court. This request must be granted regardless of the evidence presented or whether legal errors are alleged.
An appeal is a request to have the trial verdict reviewed by a higher court. Unlike a request for a new trial, there is no new evidence presented. Instead, the legal decisions from the previous trial are reviewed.
For example, if the judge decided to allow or not allow a specific piece of evidence, the appeals court would review if the judge correctly followed the law when making their decision. If they find that the judge did not correctly follow the law, they would then determine whether that evidence might have changed the verdict.
If they find that there was a good possibility that the jury might have voted differently, a new trial must be ordered.
To learn more about getting a criminal conviction overturned or to get help fighting criminal charges, contact a local criminal defense attorney like Fadely Lewis PLLC.