We have been asked many times just what exactly is Post Conviction Relief, or PCR for short? This article explains a little more about the purpose of PCR, the process and how a well-experienced defense attorney can help. It is a well-publicized fact that the United States Constitution promises that every person accused of committing a crime will be given the full rights to a fair and speedy trial. Unfortunately, reality paints a far different picture in today’s justice system. Not all criminal defendants actually receive such a fair trial as promised by the law of the land.
In cases like these, the justice system attempts to compensate by providing accused defendants with what is known as Post Conviction Relief Petitions. The state of Arizona has its own particular rules for these petitions as do all 50 states. In this article, we will consider what Post Conviction Relief Petitions actually are and how they work in practice for those who feel they have not received the promised justice in the state of Arizona.
Legal mistakes are inevitable with the volumes of trials that occur in the U.S. each and every year. Trials can be incorrectly decided by juries and judges, who are only human after all. They can incorrectly rule against a criminal defendant on legal issues that should have been resolved in favor of the defendants. There are cases where a trial attorney overlooks (or worse, has ignored) a significant bit of information or evidence. Additionally, there have been times where attorneys provide incompetent counsel, which is not at all what the U.S. Constitution guarantees and promises those who are accused of committing crimes in America.
Another scenario being if a defendant has taken a plea deal (or not taking one at all) without fully understanding the long term repercussions of such an official and legally binding arrangement. This is how a defendant can make a poor choice in plea bargaining. There are so many widely differing elements that could have caused an unfair punishment to be meted out to the criminal defendant in a given case.
This is all a component of the area of law known nationally as appellate work. The endeavor of appellate law is to bring up injustices in a court case or a given sentencing, explain why it was unjustly done, and finally attempt to see the unfair decision or punishment reversed as soon as humanly possible. This is a complex area of the law that involves many important and small details which can be and often are overlooked by their very nature.
Many defendants will have already entered and exhausted their plea agreements by this time. Others have been found guilty in trial and made their various allowed appeals to no avail. In the end, these Appeals are simply types of relief that become available as a means of remedying the trial’s ultimate outcome.
Post Conviction Relief is something altogether different from an appeal. There are a wide range of relevant issues that can become the underlying basis for this Post Conviction Relief (also known by its acronym of PCR). These include all of the following scenarios and cases:
Arizona does not provide a means to expunge a criminal record following release. They do permit a motion to set aside though. This motion enables a wiling and convinced judge to make a notation in the record that following the legal conviction, the judge has seen good cause to vacate the judgment. It offers the wrongfully convicted individuals in Arizona some small legal recompense after the fact at least.
In another attempt at moving forward with life after legal conviction and punishment, Arizona permits a party to file a motion to terminate lifetime probation. No one who has suffered through the discomfort and terrible inconvenience of probation will doubt the difficulties and stresses it creates in life. Who would really wish to endure the remainder of his or her life believing that it only takes a single mistake more to be sent back to prison for violating probation? This is more than many people can bear.
Offenders are allowed to file a motion for early termination once the probation requirements (besides the length of time involved in the sentencing) have been successfully met by the offender. It is likely though that both the defendant’s probation officer and the prosecutor on the case will oppose such a motion. One major consideration for granting or rejecting this kind of a motion revolves around the probation period behavior of the criminally convicted. If the defendant did not violate any of the probation terms, then the chances for a successful motion become significantly greater in the state of Arizona.
There are often terms for probation that are accompanied by limitations written into the arrangement itself. These will many times specify when a criminal is able to file the motion to petition for early termination. The best way to proceed through these potential legal pitfalls is to consult with a well-qualified criminal defense law firm. These legal individuals will share their honest opinion on the chances of getting an early termination of the defendant’s probation in the state of Arizona.
There is a critical difference between official Appeals and Arizona Rule 32 Petitionsor Petitions for Post Conviction Relief. With direct Appeals, only some aspects of legal issues can be revisited. Still other important issues may have to be raised via a Collateral Appeal. A defendant can find that he loses his or her one shot at gaining a higher court to review a judgment if he or she does not carefully preserve the relevant issues. This is why it is so very critical to have an experienced, dedicated, and capable attorney review a case before they take the important next steps to proceed with any form of legal Appeal.
It is also a fact that not all cases deserve to have a direct Appeal made. This does not mean that the circumstances should not be revisited though. A good lawyer will review all potential appellate issues with the client to make them aware of the worthwhile nature of any Petition for Post Conviction Relief or any Appeal. The truth is that many law firms will promote an Appeal even though it stands no realistic chance of succeeding. Beware these cases, in which the ultimate motivating factor in this scenario is the attorney’s fees that the defendant will still have to pay even if he or she is unsuccessful with the Appeal ultimately.
An honest attorney will investigate, consider, and share their truthful opinion on whether the merits of an appeal stand enough of a chance of success to be worthy of the investment of both money and time to see it through. This does not mean an attorney should be timid or act passively. When possible appellate issues exist, an effective attorney will go before the judge and explain the mistake so that it can be potentially reversed. They will not rest until all avenues are exhausted for overturning an unjust ruling of guilt or an unfair sentence in an effort to right the legal wrong.
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