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My brother in law was wrongfully convicted of robbery and sentence to 25 years of jail. he was not at the scene. what to do?

Jamaica, NY |

His cousin asked him for a ride and he gave it to him. Unknowingly to what was taking place. He is a honest and good person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

5 others were arrest and pleaded guilty. My brother in law did not take the plea deal for 5 years because he was innocent and wanted the prove his innocence, the jury found him guilty and was convicted Robbery in the First and Second Degrees, Burglary in the First Degree, and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree. The Robbery took place in Nassau County in Long Island. The 5 people who pleaded guilty were charged with 10 - 15 years of jail, why did he get so much time and what can we do to help.

I desperately need advice on what actions we can take now.

He has a 6 year old daughter who really needs and misses him.

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Attorney answers 5


I am sympathetic with the distress you and other family members are experiencing. I also respect your sincere belief in his innocence. I obviously do not have the benefit of any information about the case other than what you have set forth. His rights after conviction are limited to a direct appeal to New York's intermediate appellate court which will be subject to very strict time requirements in which the appeal must be taken. Here in PA it is thirty days after sentencing. I can not speak to what the limit is or whether it commences after sentencing like PA or starts to run from the date he was convicted. The appellate court will not retry the case nor will they make their own assessment about the accuracy or credibility of witnesses. They will be asked to review the trial to see if there were any errors made during the trial that were of sufficient magnitude that he should be granted relief in the form of a new trial (most common form of relief) or outright dismissal of the charges (quite rare) Appellate work is very complex and labor intensive, and not every qualified criminal defense attorney is also qualified to do the appeal. He needs the best appellate attorney that the family can afford. There is also a second avenue open to convicted persons. It's called generically collateral review. In PA it is governed by our Post Conviction Relief Act. The time restriction is one year from the date of sentence. This procedure is most commonly utilized to challenge the effectiveness of his trial attorney. It too is a specialized area of practice requiring specific experience with its rules and implementation. Time may be short, so I advise everyone to get down to serious work in securing him the kind of legal representation that could make a difference. Finally as to the range of sentences. It is quite common for defendants who plea guilt to get a lower sentence than another one who loses in trial. Start interviewing attorneys immediately. Good luck.


Get an experienced criminal defense appellate lawyer to file an appeal. Quite often a plea bargain is for a lesser charge and a lower sentence than a guilty verdict after trial.

If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate it. Thanks. For further information you should see an attorney and discuss the matter completely. If you are in the New York City area, then you can reach me during normal business hours at 718 329 9500 or


People who are convicted at trial usually get more time than people who plead guilty. Consult a criminal defense lawyer who does appeals.

I am a former federal and State prosecutor and now handle criminal defense and personal injury/civil rights cases. Feel free to check out my web site and contact me at (212) 577-9797 or via email at I was named to the Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in New York for 2012. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by Super Lawyers. The above answer is for informational purposes only and not meant as legal advice.


Make sure that your brother-in-law's trial lawyer files a notice of appeal as soon as possible. In the meantime, speak with a criminal appellate attorney right away.

Michael Soffer, Esq.
Criminal Appellate Attorney
118-21 Queens Blvd., Suite 504
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(917) 525--4770

I am a former prosecutor who now handles criminal defense and appellate matters. I practice in all five boroughs of New York City, as well as Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties. This answer is intended only to provide general information to the questioner. This answer does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For more information, please feel free to contact me at (917) 525-4770, or visit my website at


He needs to have his attorney file his notice of appeal right away in the Appellate Division, Second Department if the trial took place in Nassau County. He should meet with an appellate attorney as soon as possible to make arrangements to order the record on appeal and to discuss both the direct appeal and the possibility of bringing a post-conviction motion. Sometimes we file a post conviction motion with or even before the direct appeal. A post-conviction motion addresses things that may have happened but were not reflected on the record. The direct appeal addresses all legal and factual issues that appear on the record (i.e. in the transcripts). The most common post-conviction motion is one to vacate the conviction based on the ineffective assistance of counsel. If all state remedies are exhausted with result, he may be eligible to bring a motion to set aside the conviction or sentence in federal court but there are very strict time limitations involved so he must speak to an appellate attorney right away.

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