Sex Crime Appeals
Tacoma Sex Crime Appeals
A conviction for a sex offense in Washington can result in far more than just a jail or prison sentence. State law allows for fines, restitution, and mandatory registration as a sex offender. The criminal justice system provides checks for defendants against abuses by the state. Some checks allow a defendant to challenge a sex crime charge before trial, or to seek dismissal at trial. A defendant has the right to appeal a conviction based on errors occurring during a trial, or to challenge incarceration through a habeas corpus petition. The requirement to register as a sex offender is also subject to challenge in certain circumstances. A Washington sex crimes defense attorney with knowledge of Washington’s criminal laws can help you understand your rights and options.
Washington Criminal Court System
Prosecutions for alleged sex crimes take place in the court systems of the state’s thirty-nine counties. Superior courts hear felony cases, while misdemeanor cases may go before a district court or a superior court. A defendant may appeal a district court conviction to the superior court of the same county, while appeals of superior court convictions go to one of the state’s three Courts of Appeals. The Washington Supreme Court hears appeals of Court of Appeals decisions. It has final jurisdiction over state law cases, except in rare circumstances when the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear an appeal.
Appeal of a Sex Crimes Conviction
A defendant may obtain a new trial or a reversal of a conviction in an appeal. Because of the double jeopardy clause of the Constitution, the state may not appeal an acquittal. The defendant must file a notice of appeal within thirty days of sentencing. The trial court has discretion on whether to stay the sentence or require the defendant to post bail during the appeal.
The defendant, now known as the appellant, generally may only raise issues of error occurring at trial. This could include prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective assistance of counsel, errors by the court in admitting or suppressing evidence, and constitutional violations. New evidence is usually not allowed.
Habeas Corpus Petition
A person can file a petition for habeas corpus in state or federal court after their prison sentence begins, sometimes after the time to appeal has passed. The rules for habeas petitions are complicated, and the time frames for filing depend on a wide range of factors. Grounds for habeas relief often involve new evidence not available at trial.
Petition for Relief from Duty to Register as a Sex Offender
A person required by state law to register as a sex offender can petition the superior court in the county where they reside for relief from the duty to register. Eligibility for relief is typically available after a sufficiently long period of continuous registration with no further disqualifying convictions.
The U.S. Constitution guarantees certain rights of individuals during a criminal investigation and prosecution, and after a conviction. State and federal law protects those rights against abuse by police, prosecutors, judges, prison officials, and probation or parole officers. You should consult with an experienced Washington criminal defense lawyer no matter where you are in the criminal process. Timothy L. Healy has defended people charged with sex crimes and other alleged offenses throughout Washington, especially Tacoma and Pierce County, since 1995. We have helped clients through the post-conviction period by appealing errors or misconduct during trial and challenging the conditions or the terms of their incarceration, parole, or probation. Contact us today online or at (888) 312-3093 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.