A lawyer unwittingly frees and later marries a guilty man. Now she’ll stop at nothing to see him convicted of a murder he didn’t commit.
The premise has potential, but I think you need to straighten out and clarify the legal logic and what is really at stake ethically.
It’s a lawyer’s job to give her client the best defense even if she has reason to believe he’s guilty. So if she succeeded getting him declared not guilty in a court of law, it’s not “unwittingly”. It’s might be unwittingly for her to have taken the case believing in his innocence. But then again she has no business being a criminal lawyer if she’s not willing to take clients who she knows are guilty because the nature of the job.
Her mistake was not to have successfully defend him, but to marry him afterwards. But there is nothing in the original logline to indicate why she married him. I suggest his defining characteristic, his charming personality, needs to be incorporated into the logline.
Further, there is no inciting incident to explain why reverses her feelings — the discovery of his guilt.
>>>Now she’ll stop at nothing to see him convicted
Has she switched roles and become a prosecutor? But then she can’t. She would have to recuse herself and if she didn’t the judge would remove her from the case because of her close association with the accused.
And is she now accusing him “unwittingly”, sincerely believing he has committed the second crime? Or is she doing it out spite, to get revenge, for his deception in the first case? If the latter, she would be doing so in violation of the ethical legal code. Which would make her as much a criminal, a villain, as he is.
Here’s another spin:
A corporate attorney, working pro bono, frees a man convicted of murdering his college sweetheart. But when his terrified new girlfriend finds strong evidence of his guilt, they hatch a plan to take him down.
She’s working pro bono (I did this for 12 years on a murder case).
I’m dropping the married part, too much for 120 pages. There can be sexual tension.
I won’t reveal that the plan is to hide his new girlfriend who has been beaten to a pulp and set him up for her murder.
My lawyer’s ethics have gone out the window because I’ll give her a terminal illness. Only way I can see now to solve this problem.
I just have to make him beyond terrible for the audience to root for the women here.
Let me unpack the story as I understand it:
A lawyer helps a client beat a murder rap believing her client to be innocent [back story or opening setup].
Only to discover new and compelling evidence that he actually he did the crime [inciting incident].
But because of the Constitutional guarantee against double jeopardy, he can’t be retried [complication].
So she conspires to bring him “to justice” by a false charge of murder [plot].
Well, why not cut to the chase? She decides to murder him herself. Get “street justice”.
The dramatic challenge for you as the writer is: how to make the audience at least empathize with her motives? Well, I suggest that one way is the nature of his crime. It can’t have been an impulsive crime of passion, done in a moment of anger (and under the influence of, say, alcohol). Rather, his original crime has to have been premeditated and heinous, say an act of prolonged painful torture on a helpless woman while she was alive, and depravity upon her body after she was dead. In this way the narrative can sell an audience on street justice emotionally as justified even if logically they know otherwise. (There are any number of movies and crime novels that resolve the story with street justice.)