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What you should know about Post Conviction Relief Law

Post-conviction relief refers to the legal process which starts once the defendant is convicted of a crime. In most criminal cases, the conviction usually results after a trial. After the conviction, the next step is that of sentencing. The verdict is passed by the court, but the guilty party can challenge the conviction or sentence under the post-conviction relief law.

How to challenge the conviction?

The process of challenging a sentence or conviction takes place through a legal process which is known as filing an appeal. The legal action is also referred to as a federal habeas corpus proceeding. The goal of this proceeding is to exonerate the convicted person and to prove them as innocent. The defendant can hire a criminal defense attorney to represent their legal rights.

Even if the sentence has already been passed and there has been an unsuccessful appeal as well, or the time for appeal has expired, the person convicted of the crime can have their case re-examined. A successful outcome may lead to a reversal of the conviction, lead to a reduced sentence or may even initiate a completely new trial.

What is the aim of a PCR (Post-Conviction Relief) Proceeding?

The aim of the PCR proceeding is to attack the criminal conviction. The person facing the conviction is now referred to as the applicant. The objective of the PCR is to prove that the lawyer representing the defendant in the original trial was incompetent, and hence was unable to prove innocence. In a post-conviction relief proceeding, the applicant may also argue that there were errors in the court proceedings, or there was some irregularity in the trial process, which lead to an unfair trial.

In most post-conviction relief cases, the court may appoint new counsel. Similarly, the AG’s office will appoint a new attorney to represent the State. The hearing for PCR may be held before a judge in the county or circuit court where the original trial occurred. A written order is issued by the judge. The goal in a post-conviction relief proceeding is to obtain a reversal of the conviction, a reduced sentence, or a new trial altogether.

Who can file for a Post-conviction relief proceeding?

For someone to be eligible to file for post-conviction relief, they must have been convicted of a crime, or they must have pled guilty to a crime. The person could currently be serving a sentence, or they could be on parole or probation as a result of the conviction.

When can a post-conviction relief process be filed?

The individual can file for post-conviction relief within 10 years of their sentencing; else they will miss the opportunity to apply for post-conviction relief for that conviction.

If you are not sure whether you are eligible to file a post-conviction relief proceeding or not, it is advised to consult with an criminal attorney. They attorney will better be able to guide you regarding the specific grounds on which the proceeding can be filed.

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