In a recent case a defendant was found guilty of making terrorist threats to his former girlfriend.
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Even though the former girlfriend did not come to court to testify the trial judge allowed a police officer to come to court and testify as to what the former girlfriend had told him about the threats the defendant had allegedly made to her.
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The defendant was found guilty after a jury trial. The trial judge sentenced the defendant to nine years in state prison.
The defendant appealed his conviction to the California courts. However, all his appeals were denied. Finally he hired an experienced criminal defense attorney and that lawyer filed a writ of habeas corpus petition in the federal court. The FEDERAL COURT OF APPEALS REVERSED THE CONVICTION and granted the writ of habeas corpus. The federal court ordered that the defendant be granted a new trial or in the alternative that the case be dismissed and the defendant be freed.
The Federal Court held that it was unlawful for the trial court to have allowed the admission of the hearsay statements through the testimony of the police officer. The court held it was reversible error.
The lesson to be learned from this decision is that you should never give up on appealing your conviction until all of your appellate options are exhausted. Even when all of the California State Courts have denied your appeals you can often turn to the federal courts for possible relief. In this case a man is no longer sentenced to nine years in prison because the family of the defendant was able to retain the services of a competent appellate lawyer.
At Wallin and Klarich we have been helping people who wish to appeal their convictions for almost thirty years. Feel free to contact us if you wish to discuss your situation.