When someone is arrested, charged and then convicted on charges related to violent crimes, such as murder, they may feel that the case is closed and they have no legal recourse afterward. However, as a recent case in Maryland has demonstrated, this is not always the case.
Many Maryland residents may have followed the blockbuster podcast 'Serial,' about a teenager who was convicted in 2000 of strangling his ex-girlfriend and has since been serving a life sentence in prison. An essential part of the evidence leading to his conviction was cell-tower records, but it was recently revealed that an important disclaimer regarding the evidence was left out of the case and never presented at trial. Given a number of inconsistencies revealed recently, a judge has issued an order to re-open the murder case.
Post-conviction hearings are very rarely granted. What does this mean for the defendant? This does not mean a new trial has been granted, but what it does mean is that he will be given the chance to introduce new evidence on a limited basis and on issues not presented in the original trial.
This should go to show Maryland residents that it is possible to pursue different legal avenues even after a conviction is handed down and a sentence given. It may be possible to overturn or reverse the decision through many motions, including those of post-conviction hearings and habeas corpus proceedings, among others. The right approach is essential in order to guide an accused person through the criminal justice system, from attempting to get the murder charges dropped to trying to reduce the penalties, and lastly to overturn the conviction.
Source: Huuffington Post, "Judge orders case of Serial podcast subject Adnan Syed reopened," Gabriel Arana, Nov. 6, 2015