Updates to Virginia Law in 2020: Proving Innocence

You may not be aware, but a certain number of changes are coming into effect for Virginia in July of 2020. This includes law that pertains to proving innocence, and the ability of those who have been wrongfully convicted to change their conviction. Keep reading to learn the three important ways these laws are changing and how they could affect you or your loved one’s case.

How Can You Prove Your Innocence in Virginia?

Starting on July 1st, those who believe that they have been wrongly convicted have the following options to reverse their conviction:

  • People who plead guilty can still petition for a writ of actual innocence. This is very important because in many cases defendants may have been coerced into pleading guilty. This is especially true of young and vulnerable defendants who may have pleaded guilty out of fear or pressure, even if they are actually innocent. Under the old law, if you pleaded guilty you could never petition for a writ of innocence.
  • People can now petition for a writ of innocence if new evidence of their innocence comes out – even if they have previously been denied. Under the old law, a defendant only had one opportunity to challenge a conviction; even if new evidence of innocence was later discovered.
  • The burden of proof has been changed from the very challenging “clear and convincing evidence” standard to the more reasonable “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This means that in order to be eligible for a writ of actual innocence, you must show that under the new evidence, it is more likely than not that you would not be convicted.

Proving Your Innocence in Virginia

While these new changes to Virginia law may seem straightforward, it is always wise to consult an experienced attorney. The Center for Criminal and Immigration Law is a boutique law firm in Richmond that you can trust with your criminal case. Contact us now for a free consultation!

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