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JD, Criminal Justice Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 1335
Experience:  Over 11 years of practice in litigation including 10 years as a state prosecutor
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Im writing a screenplay involving my main character who gets

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I'm writing a screenplay involving my main character who gets sentenced to life in prison for killing a police officer. For the entire second act, she's in prison. Then I need her to get out for the third act. Can you tell me the various ways she could get released from prison? I know there's parole, pardon, but I'd just like a complete summary so I make this as realistic as possible.

Even shady options would be great too.

There are numerous ways this could be accomplished. How long do you need her in prison? Do you want the release to be scandalous or are you interested in creative legal arguments? I could spend days discussing the potential ways to have a conviction overturned. It will be helpful if you'll give me a bit more of what you're wanting to accomplish.


Also... is she in California or another state?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

She needs to spend 2-5 years in prison. I think a scandalous release would be great. The thing is that even though she's technically guilty of the crime, there are extenuating circumstances. There were dirty cops involved and she was only defending herself.

I'm open to legal arguments but the thing is that the screenplay is told entirely from her perspective so we can't have any scenes of courtroom drama. I would need whatever legal issues are raised to make sense that she could be released for those issues.

Also, ideally something she does helps spring her. We have a character who's a high-priced defense attorney who is helping her so if that helps feel free to use that.

And yes she's in CA.





Well it sounds like you need a factual grounds for release rather than a legal one. One way to accomplish this would be for her high priced attorney to produce newly discovered "evidence" that was not introduced at trial and likely would have changed the outcome. The legal method for introducing newly discovered evidence into a case that is basically over is called a Writ of Error Coram Nobis.


A Writ of Error Coram Nobis (roughly translated to "the error before us") is a legal tool used to correct previous injustices that are based on mistaken or omitted facts. You often see these petitions in cases where DNA is later tested to exonerate a previously convicted defendant. I caution you that the "evidence" should be something extremely provocative. It should be something that shakes the very foundation of the case, and to make it scandalous... it should be an attorney created work of fiction.


Once the Writ of Error Coram Nobis is granted, she would be released and potentially given a new trial. To solve that issue you can let the DA buy into the newly discovered evidence and not pursue a new trial.


Let me know if this sounds good. If not, we can try another angle. If you need any other information just let me know.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Can we talk about shadier methods? Is there anything she could do from the prison itself?



There are a limited number of things someone who had been in prison for 2 - 5 years can do to legitimately be released from custody. Here are a few ideas:


1) Writ of Error Coram Nobis (discussed above) - newly discovered evidence that would likely change the outcome of the previous trial... this method gets the accused a new trial. These are often filed pro se (defendant represents themselves)


2) Writ of Habeas Corpus - an error was made at some stage of the proceeding that rendered the incarceration illegal... this often arises when a judge sentences the defendant erroneously to an illegal sentence or if there exists an error on the judgment documents that renders them void on their face. This method of relief will sometimes grant a defendant a new trial or simply a correction of a judgment by amendment.


3) Appellate process - Appeals in a murder case can easily last 2 - 5 years. Though not scandalous, her appeals could have found an error in the trial that gave her sufficient grounds to overturn the conviction. Again, this would result in a new trial.


4) Governor's pardon - The Governor of the State of California, through his pardon office, can pardon any state inmate and have them released immediately. This power is virtually unchecked.. though it is seldom used. Governor's pardons can be quite scandalous if they make the news and potentially could involve scandalous motivations.


5) Fake a mental health issue - if she wanted to challenge her conviction based upon her allegedly being incompetent to stand trial, she could do this by faking a mental health disorder and having attorneys challenge the conviction based on her lack of competency (criminal insanity and/or competency to stand trial). If successful on the criminal insanity issue, she could be transfered to a state mental health facility and potentially released upon successful rehabilitation. Incompetent to stand trial would only get her competency training and a new trial.


6) Escape


I'll keep brainstorming, but let me know if any of these sound good.



Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Hi, These are great!! If I accept this can you still send additional ideas?


Of course. And feel free to reply as I'm happy to help any way I can.
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