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I Was Wrongfully Convicted. Can I File Under Rule 32?

A recent article in the journal Criminal Law Bulletin estimates that 5,000 and 10,000 people are wrongfully convicted of crimes in the United States each year. Of these, at least 2,000 innocent people spend time in jail for improper convictions.

If you have been wrongfully convicted of a crime, one of the tools at your disposal is a petition under Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Criminal Procedure. Rule 32 allows a defendant who has been convicted of a crime to go back to the convicting court and request a new trial, a new hearing for sentencing, or a reversal of the conviction. A defendant may file a Rule 32 petition if:

  • The United States or Alabama constitution requires the change to the conviction
  • The original court lacked jurisdiction
  • The sentence was not authorized by law
  • The defendant’s sentence expired but he or she is still imprisoned
  • The conviction should be overturned because newly discovered facts prove the defendant’s innocence and these facts could not reasonably have been known by the defendant at the time of trial

The petition is usually made after an appeal has been denied, but in some cases it can be made even if the defendant has not made an appeal, if the failure to appeal was not the defendant’s fault.

If the Rule 32 petition is based on new evidence, it must be sufficient to have changed the verdict in the original trial, and it must prove the defendant’s innocence — not just impeach the prosecution’s case.

If you have been wrongfully convicted, you may still have a chance to win your freedom. Contact a criminal defense lawyer at our office for a review of your case to see how we can help you.

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