In the United States, everyone has the right to a fair trial. Yet if you end up convicted of criminal charges, you may feel your trial wasn’t fair. Perhaps, the judge allowed evidence of past crimes as part of the trial and you didn’t like that. Or a neighbor who you’ve had a spat with for years gave testimony that wasn’t flattering. But what happens you feel the prosecutor didn’t follow the law? Can that get your conviction overturned?
Proof of improper conduct
When it comes to overturning a conviction, you need to have proof a prosecutor did something improper. For instance, in a recent Arizona case, the judge dismissed the assault conviction of a man because the prosecutor knew one of the witnesses in the case was legally drunk while testifying. The proof of that came from a bailiff, who conducted a breathalyzer test on the witness before he testified. The breath test showed he had an .226% blood alcohol level, well over the legal .08 limit and putting the witness’ testimony in doubt. Arizona law instructs attorneys to fix errors when they know evidence in a case is possibly incorrect. But that didn’t happen, and the conviction was overturned.
Prosecutors also are supposed to be fair during court proceedings. In a recent South Carolina ruling, a 51-year-old man convicted of murder, Oscar Fortune, had his 2006 conviction overturned because of inflammatory comments an assistant prosecuting attorney made during the closing arguments of the trial. The assistant attorney referred to Fortune’s defense attorneys by saying their job was “to do whatever they have to – without regard to the truth.” More than 10 years later, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled those comments violated Fortune’s rights to due process.
The chances of getting a conviction overturned
If you feel you received a conviction because of prosecutor misconduct, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can review the evidence in your case to determine the level of prosecutor misconduct.
No one should have to serve jail time or suffer the consequences of having a faulty conviction on their record. By working with an attorney, you may be able to see a wrongful conviction overturned.