Q: I have a scenario I want to run by someone knowledgeable in criminal law or law enforcement. It has to do with what is done legally when someone is convicted of a murder and serving time but someone else steps forward and confesses to doing the deed. Is there a hearing? Is the new party immediately arrested? Is he or she arrested only if there's enough evidence to arrest? (False confessions do take place.) What if the crime is so old that it lacks sufficient evidence? On TV, of course, you typically see the new party being led away in handcuffs as if it's a done deal.
WriteCrimeRight: The first step would be for the police to question this person to determine if the confession is legitimate. A new police investigation would occur, perhaps a very lengthy one. A confession alone is not enough to convict someone of murder so the police would look for corroborating evidence. In consultation with the prosecutor's office that handled the original case, they would determine if there's enough to charge the person.
The guy in prison is a different matter entirely. The prosecutor would either ask a judge to overturn the conviction if it was believed to be in error, or they may conclude both were involved. If the guy is completely innocent, it would be a rather lengthy process to release him. But being completely without guilt is a rather long shot as the standard of proof for a murder conviction and hurtling the subsequent appeals is very high.
Q: What would the evidence need to be to completely overturn a murder conviction? And what wouldn't be good enough?
This was a brief and public conversation through social media. When you ask us to help with your work in progress, you get detailed personal and confidential attention. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.