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Criminal convictions aren't the end of the story

For a number of convicted defendants in Tennessee, summer 2015 provided a reprieve. Four men who were previously convicted of crimes saw their cases overturned during a 35-day period this year. Legal analysts have reported that such an amount of overturns in a short time period is unusual, and even more unusual is why the overturns occurred.

According to reports, three of the cases were overturned by appellate courts because the criminal appeals court felt prosecutors mishandled the cases through either errors or misconduct. In those three cases, the court ordered new trials for the men. The three men were convicted of separate crimes including aggravated rape, sexual battery of a child and murder. They will be retried on those charges.

The fourth case was overturned because the appeals court did not feel like there was enough evidence for a conviction. That case involved a charge of child neglect.

Reportedly, this is unusual activity for the appellate court in this particular area of Tennessee. One expert said that the court seemed to be taking a limited view on what can be said during closing arguments, which led to some of the overturns.

Regardless of the reasons the court overturned these cases, the fact that four men saw such reprieves this summer illustrates that a conviction doesn't end the defendant's story. Even if a defendant is convicted, he or she still has rights and options for appeals. Working with a legal professional who is prepared to stick with a defendant through the entire process -- even if that includes post-conviction defense work -- can help defendants seek an ultimately positive outcome.

Source: The Tennessean, "4 Nashville criminal cases overturned in 35 days," Stacey Barchenger, Aug. 16, 2015

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