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After Sentencing

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What if the defendant is unhappy with the outcome of the trial?

There are 2 options depending on the specifics of the case:

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What is an appeal?

Defendants convicted at trial have the right to request an appeal to a higher appellate court of the entire case, from investigation through sentencing. There are many reasons to appeal a criminal case, but appeals are also very difficult, so it is important to talk to a lawyer to discuss the options. There are also important deadlines that apply to appeals. Missing the deadline will most likely result in dismissing the appeal.

A defendant can only appeal if:

  1. there was not enough evidence at trial to justify the verdict or judgment; and/or
  2. there were mistakes of law during or before the trial that hurt the case.

During an appeal, the defense submits a written brief noting the areas where errors may have happened. Common reasons for appeal include an invalid arrest, evidence rule violations, and incorrect jury instructions. A defendant may also appeal the length of a misdemeanor sentence longer than 120 days or a felony sentence longer than 2 years.

The prosecutor cannot appeal the jury’s decision that the defendant is not guilty because of the constitutional protection against double jeopardy. Under certain circumstances, the prosecutor can appeal court rulings and the length of the sentence.

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How does the appellate court decide the appeal?

An appeal is not a new trial and no one can give new evidence. The appellate court reviews each side’s written briefs, and the transcript or recording of the trial. The attorneys sometimes present their oral arguments to the appellate judges.

The appellate court may either:

It doesn't mean the appellate court decides the defendant is not guilty. Sometime the prosecutor retries the case.

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What is post-conviction relief?

Within 180 days after sentencing, a convicted defendant may file a motion for post-conviction relief with the trial judge, asking to change the sentence or overturn the conviction. The defendant may argue that the defense attorney was ineffective, discovery of new evidence, or the judge misunderstood the law. Sometimes new evidence and testimony is given to support a motion for post-conviction relief. If the sentence was illegal for any reason, the trial court judge can change it at any time.

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When does the offender start serving their prison sentence?

After sentencing, the Department of Corrections (DOC) can take custody of the offender if he or she has prison time remaining to serve. Judicial Services officers will either take the offender into custody right then, or the court will tell the offender where and when to report to serve their time. In rural areas, offenders can serve short periods of imprisonment in a local jail. In larger towns, short-term inmates go to state facilities. Jails generally have limited counseling and other programs available.

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How does the Department of Corrections decide where the offender will serve their time?

DOC uses a classification system to decide where an inmate will serve time based on:

DOC then chooses an institution for its security (the types of barriers between the inmate and the outside world) and its levels of custody (the type of supervision and number of limits placed on the inmate's freedom within the institution).

DOC rewards good institutional behavior with decreased levels of custody and increased participation in special programs.

Inmates close to their release date often participate in community custody, which allows selected inmates to serve their remaining time in halfway houses or on work release. Offenders get treatment, find work, pay restitution, and learn how to live in the community. Many institutions provide prerelease classes and counseling to help the offender make the transition from prison.

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What programs may be available in prison?

Prison programs may include:

Alaska correctional institutions have rules about most parts of an inmate’s life, including daily schedule, telephone access and mail, books and magazines, showers, and drug monitoring. The prisons use a disciplinary system of institutional infractions, penalties, and grievance procedures. They encourage good behavior with good time (time credited for good behavior), privileges, and the chance to take part in some programs.

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Can an offender serve a sentence on electronic monitoring?

The Department of Corrections has an Electronic Monitoring (EM) program that allows offenders who meet certain requirements to serve time at home. Offenders can keep working, access community-based treatment, perform community work service, address medical issues, and attend religious functions. DOC assesses a fee of either $12.00 or $14.00 a day to participate in this program. Only certain offenders qualify for electronic monitoring:

Learn more about the sentenced electronic monitoring program.

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What other ways can offenders serve their sentences beside prison, probation and electronic monitoring?

In addition to prisons and electronic monitoring, the Department of Corrections runs other special programs. These include:

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What is discretionary parole?

Discretionary parole is when an offender applies for parole which is early release based on a good institutional record and plans for work and housing after release. About one-third of felony offenders in prison can apply for discretionary parole. Some offenders become eligible to apply after serving 1/4 - 1/3 of their sentences.

The parole board screens offenders and looks at:

The parole board rejects many applications. If the board grants parole, it sets conditions to reduce risk to the public and to increase the parolee’s chance for success. If an offender does not follow the conditions of parole, the parole board can hold a revocation hearing. The offender has the right to an attorney and to due process at the hearing. If the parole board finds that the offender committed violations, the board can set new restrictions or return the offender to prison.

Victims have the right to comment in writing at parole hearings and to know when an offender’s release date. The Department of Corrections can give victims information on sentencing, probation conditions, parole hearings, release dates, collecting restitution, and victim rights.

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What is mandatory parole for good time served?

Offenders with sentences of longer than 2 years earn mandatory parole which is early release from prison or jail by accumulating good time, days credited for good behavior while in prison. The law requires Department of Corrections (DOC) to deduct good time from the sentence imposed, one day for every two days served. Offenders may lose their good time if they fail to follow prison rules or do not complete court-ordered treatment. DOC uses good time to manage prisons, since it gives offenders a reason to cooperate with institutional rules.

The parole board can set release conditions to reduce risk to the public and increase the chance that the offender will not reoffend. The parole board holds revocation hearings if the offender does not follow the conditions of mandatory parole.

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What is unconditional discharge?

Once an offender serves the sentence and completes all legal requirements of probation or parole, he or she is released from the criminal justice system. Felons who commit crimes of "moral turpitude" (most violent and property crimes) cannot vote until being discharged without conditions.

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What is suspended imposition of sentence?

Some offenders receive a suspended imposition of sentence to see if they can straighten out their lives. If they complete all sentence conditions, these offenders can have the conviction set aside. Otherwise, adult offenses remain a permanent part of the offender’s criminal record, and can increase a sentence if the offender commits a new crime.

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What if I can’t afford to pay the judgment for the costs of the appointed lawyer?

Your options are to:

To ask to delay the payment due date or reduce the total amount, you can file:

Explain in detail in the first paragraph of the Request form why paying the original amount, or paying without delay, will cause hardship to you or your family. Examples of hardship situations may be loss of your job, extraordinary expenses, or serious illness or injury.

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Rev. 30 April 2019
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