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How to Overturn a Guilty Conviction in North Carolina

Have you been convicted of a crime in North Carolina? Do you believe that your guilty verdict or guilty plea was in error? If so, you may have a right to attempt to overturn your guilty conviction. Many defendants who have been convicted of a crime in North Carolina feel a sense of hopelessness. However, there are a few potential options available to defendants to try to overturn a guilty conviction. One of these options is to file a direct appeal; another option is to file a Motion for Appropriate Relief. It is important to consult a criminal defense attorney who can review your case and help decide which option is best for you.

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we work hard on behalf of our clients throughout the criminal law process, including the criminal appeals process. If you have faced a criminal conviction, we can evaluate your case and develop a legal strategy to appeal your conviction. Contact one of our attorneys today to learn how we can help.

Filing a Motion for Appropriate Relief

Motions for Appropriate Relief are a frequently used tool for post-conviction relief. Motions for Appropriate Relief seek to correct an error in the trial court proceedings that ended with a defendant’s criminal conviction. When filing a Motion for Appropriate Relief, the defendant asks the court for relief from a criminal conviction that the trial court decided in error. Judges have the authority to vacate a conviction when they vote in favor of a Motion for Appropriate Relief. Judges can also order a new trial when they deem it necessary.

In many cases, Motions for Appropriate Relief are more advantageous than filing a criminal appeal. Depending on the reason behind the Motion for Appropriate Relief, the defendant may be able to file the Motion at any point after the criminal conviction. The defendant may need to submit some Motions within 10 days of the conviction.

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, our attorneys can help you determine if filing a Motion for Appropriate Relief will work for your situation. If you have been convicted of a crime in North Carolina, time is of the essence. Some Motions need to be filed within 10 days of your conviction. Contact our law firm as soon as possible to learn how we can help you.

Using Appeals and Writs to Reverse a Criminal Conviction

Typically, appellate judges defer to the findings of trial courts. Appellate courts rarely overturn a lower court determination because perfect trials are not guaranteed and rarely happen. Nonetheless, when the lower court fails to meet certain constitutional and procedural standards, an appellate court may reverse a trial court’s decision.

Appellate courts will only overturn a trial court’s guilty verdict when the trial court erred in a way that significantly contributed to the guilty verdict. When an error at the trial court level materially affects a defendant’s conviction or sentence, the defendant has a right to file an appeal. The appeal must state a specific claim. For example, an appeal might specifically state that the scope of the search warrant was too broad to be constitutional.

What happens when an appeal is successful? Appellate courts will not always reverse a guilty verdict, even when the defendant wins on appeal. When prosecutors could have still achieved a guilty verdict even without the error of the trial court, the court may not reverse the conviction.

Requesting a Conviction Reversal Through a Writ

When an appeal is not possible, the defendant may be able to ask an appellate court to issue a writ that requires the lower court to take a specific action. A writ is an order issued by a higher court, directed at a lower court. The writ directs the lower court to take action. Usually, defendants file writ in extraordinary situations. For the writ to succeed, the defendant must prove that the verdict was materially based on some other injustice or error.

Contact Us Today

At Arnold & Smith, PLLC, we understand that facing a criminal conviction can be incredibly overwhelming. That is why we fight so hard for our clients who are seeking post-conviction relief. After evaluating the facts of your case, we can advise you as to the best legal strategy to attempt to overturn your conviction. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation. For your convenience and safety, we now offer video and phone conferencing. If you prefer an in-person consultation, we have three easy to reach locations in Uptown Charlotte, Monroe, and Mooresville.