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Relief Is Possible After a Criminal Conviction

Facing criminal charges is no easy task and watching a loved one receive a conviction after weeks or months of fighting is arguably a difficult thing to witness. However, just because a trial is over, that doesn’t mean the accused is out of legal options. Post-conviction relief may be possible thanks to the following processes.

Appeals

An appeal is a post-conviction relief process that seeks to change the initial verdict of the judge or jury. The two main goals of the appeal process are to:

  • Identify and correct any errors made in the initial trial process (the use of unlawful evidence, revealed juror misconduct, etc.); and
  • Clarify or interpret state laws regarding the circumstances of the case.

The appeal process is relatively similar to a court case except there is typically no jury present. Therefore, both sides of the case will present their facts to a judge or group of judges.

There are three main outcomes of the appeals process:

  • The court affirms the decision of the lower court (nothing changes);
  • The court reverses the decision of the lower court (the lower court must dismiss the original action, retry the case, or change the judgment);
  • The court vacates the decision of the lower court (the higher court annuls the decision of the lower court).

Now that we covered appeals let's talk about writs.

Writs

Writs are directives written from higher courts to lower courts or government officials on behalf of the moving party (the one seeking the writ). There are several different kinds of writs, and each one has its own purposes.

Common writs used in criminal law include:

  • Writ of habeas corpus: Used to test the legality of a prisoner's detention; and
  • Writ of Coram Nobis: Used to correct errors such as judgments rendered without full knowledge of the facts.

Petitions

Petitions are formal written requests made by convicts (or experienced criminal defense attorneys on behalf of convicts) and sent to courts asking for an order of the court. While some petitions are demands for writs and appeals, others make up their own post-conviction relief category.

Popular petition requests include:

  • Modifications of prior orders;
  • Continuances of post-relief meetings;
  • Requests from prison.

As you can see, petitions are essential before, during, and after criminal cases. However, post-conviction relief proceedings only come into play after someone has been convicted of a crime.

Post-Conviction Relief Proceedings

Post-conviction relief (PCR) proceedings are like appeals, but instead of going to an appellate court, PCR proceedings go to the trial court where the initial case took place.

PCR proceedings may occur when:

  • A judgment violates state or federal laws;
  • A sentence was harsher than the law allows;
  • The court that housed the case did not have jurisdiction;
  • The defendant’s plea was entered involuntarily;
  • New evidence is uncovered.

If a defendant is awarded post-conviction relief, he or she may be released from custody, receive a new trial, or obtain a modification of the sentence. Therefore, PCR proceedings are an essential part of the legal process.

Need Help with Post-Conviction Items?

If you or a loved one needs help with post-conviction processes like appeals, PCR proceedings, petitions, or writs, Mark Raymond McDonald, Esq. A Law Corporation is here for you. Our knowledgeable attorney knows how and when to file post-relief paperwork, keeping your best interests at the heart of the work.

Call (909) 443-1599 now for a free case review.

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