Certain crimes have been ruled unconstitutional by both the Georgia Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court. When this happens, prosecutions of such cases must stop, and the criminal statutes are often rewritten to reflect the change. But what happens to defendants who have already been convicted under the old statute? For some, it is a long and costly battle to appeal the conviction. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help defendants battle discrimination at all phases of prosecution, sentencing, imprisonment, and post-conviction relief.
In some particularly egregious cases, Georgia’s past criminal laws have prohibited homosexual acts between consenting adults. This sodomy law was overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court in 1998. In 2003, the United States Supreme Court banned all such laws across the country as unconstitutional. But this still left some defendants with horrible consequences for conduct that could no longer be classified as a crime. The Washington Post reports on the story of one man who was convicted of homosexual under the old sodomy statute in 1997 – only one year before the statute was deemed unconstitutional. He was forced to register as a sex offender until 2012. Now, he remains convicted of both sodomy and failure to register as a sex offender. A federal court overturned the convictions but has since been overruled by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. The convictions, therefore, remain in place.
This case is just one of many unfortunate examples of LGBTQ defendants being unfairly discriminated against by outdated criminal laws. When such discrimination occurs, a defendant has options for restoring his or her legal rights.
Options for Post Conviction Relief
There are many ways to challenge a conviction. Defendants who enter a guilty plea lose certain rights to a direct appeal (explained below), but still retain other rights to seek relief after a conviction based upon a guilty plea. This post-conviction relief can come in the form of a writ of habeas corpus. This is a civil motion that challenges a judge’s rulings which ultimately led to the conviction.
If a defendant is convicted as a result of a guilty verdict rendered by a judge or jury, there is also the right to make a motion for a new trial. Such a motion can be granted when the verdict of a jury is found contrary to principles of justice and equity, where the verdict was decided in spite of weight of the evidence, where material evidence was illegally admitted or withheld, where there is newly discovered material evidence, or on other grounds based on sounds legal discretion. If the motion is granted, a new trial will be held before a new jury.
Protect Your Right to Be Free From Discrimination in Criminal Proceedings
With the experienced advice of a criminal defense attorney, defendants will be better able to protect themselves from discrimination in the criminal case process. Whether it is discrimination in charging or sentencing, discrimination in prison procedures, or discrimination in post-conviction matters, an experienced attorney can help you explore options for asserting your legal rights. Call 678-889-7953 today to schedule your free consultation.