A criminal conviction of any kind can be devastating. People who are convicted of a serious crime such as a felonymay face all sorts of consequences. Felony convictions can bar people from entering certain professions and force them to surrender an existing professional license. Those who’ve been convicted of a federal crime may be facing additional penalties including years in prison and heavy fines. Hearing a guilty verdict can be astonishing and heartbreaking.
At the same time, now is the time to think about what’s going to happen next. If you are facing a conviction for a federal crime, you still have options within in the legal system. Now is the time to think about what you need to do immediately. While each case is different, in general anyone who’s been convicted should pay close attention to certain issues. You’ll want to think closely about making your case for the lowest possible sentence, considering the value of an appeal and perhaps even finding new legal counsel if you don’t feel you were served well by your current team.
The Sentencing Process
The sentencing process is hugely important. This is when you know how much time, if any, that you need to serve in prison. While judges need to act within certain guidelines, they are also free to add their own input based on their personal legal experience. When you go for sentencing, you’re going to be in front of the same judge who heard your case. This is the same person who listened to everything that was said including all legal evidence. If you’ve testified in front of them during them during the court trial, they may be familiar with your personality. You may have spent many hours in court watching their body language and hanging on to every word.
Now is the the time to work closely on your sentencing. At this point, if you haven’t spoken out before, you can speak in front of the judge and let them know more about you. You can tell them about your background, your education and what mistakes you might have made that led to this point. A conviction is a terrifying process. You may be feeling stunned in the aftermath of the verdict for weeks. At the same time, this hearing will give you an opportunity to plead your case in front an official with the power to determine course of the rest of your life. You’ll want to practice speaking calmly and controlling your emotions.
A conviction is not necessary the end of your hopes. Many defendants choose to appeal their sentences. This option is not open to you automatically if you have plead guilty. The appeals process lets higher court officials examine the ruling of the previous courts. Keep in mind that any appeal will not focus on your guilt or innocence. The concern is whether or not an error was made during your trial in some way. The judges are looking to see that you were given a fair trial and all evidence that might indicate that you are not guilty was allowed to be entered into the record.
You can appeal on many grounds including lack of evidence and the behavior of a judge during your trial. For example, if the judge was clearly biased or incompetent or simply did not follow the laws as given, you can use this to appeal the conviction. There is another basis in which you can use to appeal. That’s if you were not given the right legal counsel during the trial. Ineffective legal counsel can have many potentially serious ramifications. If your lawyer did not present evidence in your favor, failed to investigate promising leads, did not offer you the kind of advice you needed or generally acted incompetently in some way such as failing asleep during the trial or showing up having drank too much, this can also be grounds for appeal.
Another Point of View
In the aftermath of a conviction, it’s a good idea to see if a change in legal counsel might be a good idea. Even if you are pleased with your lawyer right now, it may be useful to get another perspective. Another legal perspective can look at your case with much needed fresh eyes. They can help you decide if there’s grounds for appeal and on what basis. They can also offer help with other matters related to the appeal. Some lawyers actually specialize in this particular area of law. Working closely with a new legal voice can help you and the judge in your case see things in a new even if you have been convicted. All such considerations can turn your case around and help you begin a whole new life.
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