Overturn or Appeal a Conviction in Oregon
The reality is that the U.S. judicial system and the criminal justice system in the state of Oregon are imperfect. Mistakes happen. Moreover, there are cases in which conscious decisions are made to thwart the proper execution of justice in a particular criminal proceeding.
As a result of those mistakes and decisions, there are men and women in the state of Oregon that have been convicted of crimes and served their sentences, who still desire to have their criminal convictions overturned. In some cases, these convictions actually date back a good many years.
Although attempting to have an old criminal conviction set aside is a highly challenging quest, there is a procedure in place that permits a person to seek this type of relief in a limited number of situations.
There exist a multitude is misperceptions about what a person can and cannot do in regard to attempting to have a criminal conviction set aside or overturned in Oregon. Thus, before diving into what process actually may be available in some limited circumstances, a person needs to appreciate what he or she cannot do to obtain relief from an old criminal conviction.
The knee-jerk reaction the typical person seeking to have even an old conviction set aside in Oregon is filing an appeal. The idea that the remedy for all judicial problems and issues is to appeal a case is stems largely from film and television. In the final analysis, a person seeking this type of judicial intervention cannot obtain it via an appeal. The time for an appeal will have long passed if a case has reached the juncture at which the sentence has been completed.
The reality is that a person in Oregon seeking to have a conviction overturned after a sentence is served is faced with seeking what is called equitable relief by petitioning the court for what really represents "special consideration." As a general rule, once a sentence has been served, the typical avenues of post-conviction relief are no longer available to a criminal defendant.
By pursuing this type of equitable action for relief, a person seeking to overturn a conviction is asking the court to grant extraordinary assistance by vacating an existing conviction, because the ends of justice demand such a resolution.
In order to prevail when attempting to have an old conviction set aside, a person faces a significant challenge when it comes to presenting necessary evidence. In the final analysis, the evidence necessary to overturn an old conviction must be so tremendously compelling that the ultimate interests of justice require a judge to reconsider the case and issue an order vacating or overturning the sentence.
Compelling evidence is necessary to overturn or appeal a conviction
A recurring example of evidence that can satisfy this requirement in Oregon is evidence that supports the argument that the defendant is factually innocent, not merely legally innocent. Legal innocence oftentimes is equated with the idea that a person "got off on charges because of a technicality."
Factual innocence means that a person not only was legally not guilty of a particular crime for which he or she was convicted but was in fact actually innocent. Simply, the convicted person "didn't do it."
The technology surrounding the use of DNA represents one of the primary reasons why people in Oregon seek to have old convictions vacated or overturned. Through the use of DNA testing, the door sometimes can be opened up to successful post conviction relief that includes vacating or overturning a conviction even after a sentence has been served and a great deal of time has passed.
Overturning an old conviction after a sentence has been served represents one of the most legally challenging endeavors in the criminal justice system in the state of Oregon -- or anywhere else in the United States, for that matter. In the state of Oregon, an old conviction has the possibility -- but not the guarantee -- of being overturned if an individual is able to convince a court to consider the argument in the first instance and then only if that person presents truly compelling evidence warranting an order overturning a conviction.
Examples of what constitute truly compelling reasons sufficient to overturn a sentence include: a demonstration of significant prosecutorial or judicial misconduct in the underlying criminal proceedings or clear evidence of actual, factual innocence (usually supported by results of DNA testing that was unavailable at the time of the original prosecution).
Pursuing a post conviction remedy after a person has completed a sentence is a very complicated legal matter. In simple terms, a person must overcome very significant hurdles to even get a judge to consider what is being requested in the first instance, let alone obtaining a positive judgment in the final analysis.
In the state of Oregon, there are attorneys who are part of the criminal defense bar who focus their professional efforts on obtaining post conviction relief for clients. In other words, even among attorneys, only a particular set of lawyers have the qualification and experience to successfully pursue this type of post conviction relief after a criminal defendant has completed serving his or her sentence.
The costs associated with retaining a qualified attorney to pursue this type of post conviction relief can prove to be significant in many cases. On the other hand, the failure to obtain legal representation when seeking to have a conviction overturned can result in a person making mistakes when pursuing the case, which can seriously undermine the efforts.
There are some resources available to a person in Oregon interested in having an old conviction vacated or overturned, even when the sentence imposed by the court has been served. The Oregon State Bar provides a range of different types of information resources, including materials pertaining to post conviction remedies.
Depending on the specific circumstances of a case in which a person desires to have an old conviction vacated or overturned, a judge in Oregon may appoint counsel for the party seeking relief. This is most likely to occur in a situation in which there clearly appears to have been some sort of egregious problem associated with the initial prosecution that grievously impacted a person's constitutional rights.
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