A Missouri man convicted of armed robbery back in 2000 is currently battling the state’s attempt to incarcerate him for that conviction years after the fact. After his conviction, authorities reportedly failed to notify him when to turn himself in to corrections due to a clerical error. Hearing nothing, the man simply went about his life.

As his attorney points out, the man was something of a model citizen, making no attempt to evade authorities and incurring no further criminal offenses. Thinking he had been forgotten, the man was surprised when he was taken into custody last summer to serve out his sentence. The man and his attorney filed an appeal in February requesting his release on the grounds that authorities waited too long to incarcerate him. They rely on case law from 1912 in which a man was set free after authorities failed to provide him with an order to serve out his sentence.

The state attorney general argues that authorities are right to follow through with the sentence, but suggests that it may be possible for the man to gain credit for his time at large as time served. Unfortunately, the man’s attorney is doubtful this is even an option.

Cases like this are obviously unusual, and most criminal defendants do not face such circumstances in the criminal process. What this story does highlight, though, is the need for legal representation post conviction. When a criminal defendant is convicted, legal advocacy should not end there. A skilled defense attorney can also help to minimize the sentence and assist in filing for criminal appeals.

Appeals can be particularly challenging from a legal perspective, since there may be unresolved legal issues at play or technical errors from trial that affect the case. Whatever the issue may be, a good criminal appeals attorney will ensure that everything possible is done to correct errors in the criminal process and to ensure a just outcome in the case. 

Source: CBS News,“Armed robber was never told to report to prison,” April 17, 2014.