If you want to challenge the results of your conviction, your attorney could explore post-conviction relief for you in the trial court where your case was originally heard.
When you file as the “applicant,” the court will approve a new attorney to assist in showing that you had an unfair trial.
Knowing the difference
Post-conviction relief, or PCR, differs from the appeals process, which usually goes to a higher court at the federal level. The state handles PCR, and it may be your last opportunity to challenge the results of your criminal case.
Reasons for PCR
A post-conviction relief proceeding could be in order for several reasons. Here are some examples:
- If your sentence or conviction violates state or federal law
- If the severity of the sentence exceeds the legal maximum
- If new evidence has come to light that could have affected your trial’s outcome
- If the law that governed your sentencing has changed in your favor
- If the court did not have jurisdiction to decide your case, or if your original attorney was incompetent
While an appeal is usually filed with the court soon after a conviction, your legal team could file post-conviction relief on your behalf even after you have started your prison term. The process requires considerable research concerning the original case, including any evidence of errors, so that your attorney can file motions in a timely fashion and develop effective oral arguments.
Second time around
If you believe an error occurred during your trial, your attorney can file an appeal to the state appellate court on your behalf. This will likely see your case remanded to the trial court, and the judge there must issue a written order on the ruling. In a successful post-conviction relief effort, the court may modify your penalty; that is, the judge could issue an order to correct or even vacate your sentence.