INNOCENT OR GUILTY?
The first method of guessing is to look at how long the convicted person has been complaining about the conviction. When they go into jail they simply want to get out straight away – because it is often a scary place to be. Then hope rises as the first appeal is lodged. first appeals are sometimes a waste of time because most solicitors try to find mistakes in the judges summing-up , and these are rare. However, the convict thinks there might be success.
After the first appeal is lost, there is a period of reflection – what chances are there of getting another appeal? Letters are sent to various people in the hope that something will get done. The trouble is that the guilty convict finds it difficult to put up a case of miscarriage of justice – because there hasn’t been one. In the end the guilty person decides to do the time and lick his wounds afterwards. But the innocent person is still fuming about the injustice. So, as a rule of thumb, if someone is still complaining after five years in jail, then you should listen carefully to what he/she says.
The second – and more practical - approach is to look at the nature of the crime for which the convict was imprisoned. It is no good taking on a case when the convict only has a conviction of a few years. He will be out before any re-investigation can be completed and when a prisoner is out the “sting” is taken out of the case. People just are not interested in helping if the convicted person is already walking the streets again. And you will need a lot of help.
So we are really only looking at murder, rape and violent assaults. It’s a pity that victims of miscarriage of justice for lesser crimes cannot really be helped, but that is the nature of this business. Of course, there may be the odd exceptions to this rule - but they are very few.
Another reason why only major crimes can be re-investigated is the amount of paperwork involved. Unless you have a lot of evidence, you have little to work on. What’s more, other (lesser) crimes generally only have witness evidence – and it is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to re-investigate a case which relies entirely on witness evidence. More on this later, because the point is very important.
Another very human point is this: if the convict is writing to you about the case and does not readily include the nature of the crime, the length of sentence, the name of the solicitor, you can lay bets that this convict is actually guilty. It’s just human nature to avoid telling somebody these details before their “interest and sympathy” are aroused.