I Stand Convicted of a Crime I was Never Charged with Thanks to SCOTUS

Blast Zone No. 139 - 0 Comments
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When I found out that the information I pled guilty to failed to charge an offense against the United States I was thrilled. Surely I must be able to get that conviction thrown out and off of my record if the charging instrument didn't even charge me with a crime. WRONG! Thanks to a 2002 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) in United States v. Cotton, 535 U.S. 635 (2002) nobody can obtain post conviction relief on the grounds that the information or indictment in their case did not charge them with a crime or at least not the crime they pled guilty to committing.

It seems like common sense that in order for a conviction to stand that the written charging instrument in the case at least accuse them of a crime. That was the case for hundreds of years and the Cotton case marked a milestone in the Court's war on common sense. In my case I was charged with Threatening Communications and my information did not charge specific intent to threaten. That is an essential element of the crime not listed in the statute, so as result I was not charged with violating 18 U.S.C. 875(c). Yet I am still convicted of it because according to SCOTUS the greater threat to the "fairness, integrity, or public reputation of judicial proceedings" would be if a person could get a conviction overturned "because of an error that was never objected to at trial" even if that error means that the person was not charged with a crime.

It seems like stupid prosecutors that don't even know how to properly charge someone don't have to. You'd think a law school graduate would not make a mistake like not accusing the defendant of something they must have done to be convicted of the offense, but it seems that SCOTUS is more concerned with protecting prosecutors from their own stupidity than protecting the people from the right not to be punished for without being charged.

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