I have been wrongfully convicted of a criminal offense; my conviction was affirmed on appeal. What are my options?
There are a number of legal avenues available to a person beginning as soon as after he or she has been found guilty of a criminal charge and sentenced. First, a person can file an appeal, which must be done within 30 days after sentencing (within this time, the Notice of Appeal must be filed). If the appeal is unsuccessful, or the time limit for filing an appeal has passed, the person may file for post conviction relief.
Post conviction refers to the legal process that occurs after a trial results in the defendant being found guilty and sentenced. Post conviction relief allows a defendant to further challenge the conviction. This is a case where the matter could not be properly addressed on appeal, such as ineffective assistance of counsel, juror bias, perjury, DNA exclusion of the criminal from the act, or something else that materially led to the wrongful conviction and/or unfair trial.
Post conviction relief is a very complex procedure and you should consult with a post conviction attorney. Post conviction relief is also rare and must be handled according to very strict rules and caselaw requirements.
If after review of the underlying matter, your Indiana post conviction relief attorney finds a basis for post-conviction relief, he or she will assert in a motion that you were wrongfully convicted and that your constitutional rights to a fair trial, or otherwise, were violated. A number of diverse steps may occur after this and before a hearing.
The violation of your rights could have occurred at any phase of the criminal proceeding, including during the investigation, arrest, pre-trial, plea hearing, trial and sentencing. It is imperative that your criminal defense attorney argue against any violations of your rights at the trial court level. Successive post-conviction relief requests may be barred and statistically have less chance of success.
Generally, an issue is available for appellate review only if it has first been raised in the trial court (Showalter v. Thorntown, 2009). The major caveat also applies to post conviction relief is that the underlying basis for the filing must have been asserted at trial or in a prior proceeding, such as in a pre-trial motion, or the court will not allow the post conviction relief claim.
In other words, your defense attorney must have timely objected to the introduction of evidence either verbally and on the record or by a motion. The rules allow for a few exceptions, such as ineffective assistance of trial counsel, and in the event your defense attorney did not assert the basis of post conviction relief at trial or in a prior proceeding, your post conviction relief lawyer will analyze these exceptions to determine if one applies to your case.
Post conviction relief filings are complicated procedures and are best made by the skill of an attorney. If you have appealed your conviction and it was denied, you may want to consult with an Indianapolis post conviction relief attorney to explore the possibilities of filing a motion for post conviction relief and if grounds exist for possible relief.
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