I'm a researcher and I visit incarcerated men and women for the holidays because I have no family myself. I met this very interesting guy a few months back and he's swearing up and down the innocent plea, but I've looked into his case and he didn't commit the crime, his never had any priors of significance, and he would have never plead guilty to anything if not instructed to do so by his appointed attorney. He admits to the attempted robbery and the scheme of the assault but never would have thought that known assailant would have shot the man out of fear of being shot himself. The shooter admits that the co conspirator my friend had nothing to do with it. They reduce his sentence for the confession but not before they had my friend to sign his plea instructed by his attorney before hand.
The difficulty with this sort of question is that you raise some very important issues but also really cannot give us enough information to answer. Regarding the facts of the case, it really is not productive to go back now with "buyers remorse" and second-guess the decisions that caused this person to plead as they did and put them in prison. I will say that many incarcerated persons claim that they only pleaded guilty because their lawyer somehow forced them to do it or was otherwise incompetent. While I am sure that there are cases where legal representation is not as good or thorough as we would want it to be, the criminal justice system is set up such that nobody can plead guilty in superior court without going through a long set of questions where they confirm that they have reviewed the evidence against them, that they have discussed it with their lawyer, that they are satisfied with their legal services, and that they want to take the plea of their own free will.
Regarding the facts you present, I don't know what this man actually pleaded to, but it sounds as if you are saying that he willingly participated in an armed robbery for which he had planned to use force but was surprised when things got out of hand and somebody got shot. This is a fairly classic example of some legal principles which essentially say that when you go out to commit a crime and things go wrong you are still fully responsible for all the bad things that followed if they were reasonably foreseeable possibilities. The classic example is an armed robbery that leads to a shooting, with the result that all the robbers are equally on the hook for the shooting even if they did not expect that or intend that to happen when they planned it.
My intent is not to sound harsh but to suggest that your options for helping this person are pretty limited. As a non-attorney, there really is nothing you can do directly. There are some innocence projects at various law schools throughout the state that have been known to take a look at cases, but they tend to focus on situations where the person behind bars is a victim of mistaken identity. From the court side of things there would have been opportunities to file various appeals but probably those have either been done or the time for filing them has long passed. It is kind of you to want to assist this fellow, but I don't see much that can be done.
Probably need to speak with an attorney with substantial experience handling appeals and/or what is referred to as an MAR or “Motion for Appropriate Relief.”
What’s being described seems to involve a conspiracy to commit a felony. It’s a complicated (and rarely granted) remedy under the law. See: http://www.sog.unc.edu/node/2682
It wouldn't be unusual to be held accountable for a greater level of punishment even if one didn't necessarily anticipate or intend upon something more serious happening.
I’m attaching a link to North Carolina General Statutes – Chapter 14. http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/gascripts/statutes/...
Therein one can review some of the different definitions and get a feel for how things work in North Carolina.
Given there was legal representation by an attorney, a Superior Court Plea Transcript, etc., this is going to be a tough nut to crack.
Noell Tin is a top-notch attorney whom is well-versed in MAR issues. Super nice person too. Please say “hey” if you call. http://www.tinfulton.com/attorneys/noell-p-tin/
It sounds like you have a compassionate, caring heart. It's nice to see someone take time to visit people in prison.
Good inquiry and best of luck to you!
You need to understand that under the law, once you are in, you are all in. It doesn't matter what his accomplice intended or what he knew. Once he agreed to participate, he agreed to all the consequences. The easiest way to explain it is a team - the team wins together or loses together. But each team member does different things. If one player commits an error that causes the loss, then the team still loses, and each member is part of the loss, no matter what they individually did. Same here. You can't agree to commit a crime, and then back out when it goes bad.
You sound like a nice person, but people in prison don't want to be there. His lawyer explained this to him. If you don't believe me - his file is public record. He went through questions in front of the judge. The transcript details what was dismissed. His record is in there. This is not a mistake, just someone who wants to go home.
You got some very good answers here. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear the term wrongfully incarcerated applies. See each of the answers carefully. I believe they are explaining that this may be where the felony murder rule came into play. Whenever a person sets out to commit a violent felony and a murder occurs, they are guilty of the murder by the accomplice.
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