Sex offenders often face some of the most severe sentences upon conviction. In addition to fines, jail terms, and a criminal record, offenders will be forced to register on the national sex offenders list, which will severely restrict their personal rights and civil liberties. In a recent case, an Alabama man has been sentenced to lifetime in prison without the possibility of parole. The sentence comes after an attempted appeal for judicial error in his initial trial.
According to reports, the defendant filed an appeal and had his case heard in Mobile earlier this month. After five days of testimony and presentations by both the prosecution and defense, the Mobile County Circuit Court jury took less than a half hour to find the defendant guilty of first-degree rape. The court re-sentenced the defendant to life in prison. Our criminal defense attorney in Birmingham is committed to providing informed and strategic defense to individuals who have been accused of violent crimes and sexual offenses. In addition to protecting the rights of our clients, we are committed to staying abreast of legal issues that may affect the rights of inmates throughout Alabama.
Appeals are possible if it is found that there was a mistake of law or other legal issue in the first trial. For example, you may be able to succeed in an appeal if you had inadequate representation or if the judge gave an improper jury instruction. If you have been convicted and sentenced, you should consult with an experienced attorney who can review your case for the possibility of an appeal.
The prosecution found that the appeal was made even difficult because they were looking for witness statements from victims who had appeared in the first trial. According to other reports, the new trial unfolded very similarly to the first trial in 2011. For the defense team, this meant reviewing and challenging all of the same evidence that was presented against the defendant.
While the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals had already overturned the original conviction and ordered a new trial, the results were the same. The court had ordered a new trial after it determined that the judge made an error in the jury instructions. The original jury instruction stated that they could consider other allegations if it helped to identify a “motive, opportunity, plan, knowledge, and identity.” The court found that the jury instruction was too broad since the defendant’s identify was not questioned. Reports indicated that the judge allowed all of the same testimony, but were given a different jury instruction. Effectually, this meant including witness statements from women who testified that they had also been attacked.
An effective appeal requires scrutinizing all actions taken by the court and the prosecution to find errors in the law. Criminal defense teams must also challenge any evidence that can be suppressed to protect the rights of defendants in court. In this case, the defendant will face the severe punishment of life without the possibility of parole. In accordance with Alabama’s repeat offender laws, the defendant is facing severe punishment because of a prior criminal record, which included three other Class A felonies.