What Exactly is Post-Conviction Relief?

You may have heard that a criminal case ends after the appeal stage, but there is one more potential step in the process. Even if you have been convicted of a crime in Florida and you have passed the appeal stage, you may be able to file for post-conviction relief in order to raise new issues in your case. In many ways, a post-conviction relief motion may be able to influence a more positive resolution to your case.

So, what is post-conviction relief?

The appeals court is designed to review any possible legal errors that may have been made during your trial. Post-conviction relief, on the other hand, aims to investigate all aspects of your case in order to look for specific issues. For example, the process might analyze the following possibilities:

  • Your plea was involuntary
  • Your sentence was illegal
  • The law has changed since your verdict
  • Your attorney was ineffective or gave you bad counsel
  • There is new evidence, like a DNA test, to prove your innocence
  • The prosecutor engaged in misconduct
  • There is evidence of perjury or jury misconduct

How can it help?

If you successfully file a motion for post-conviction relief and a judge grants your petition, the results can range from a small form of relief to a total reversal of the outcome of your trial. You may be able to have your sentence modified, order a new trial, or receive another type of relief to improve your situation. If you have good reason, it may be in your best interest to try for post-conviction relief.

How does one file for post-conviction relief?

In the state of Florida, the post-conviction relief process follows the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure 3.850. You will typically file a Motion to Vacate Sentence with the trial court (not an appeals court). If the motion is granted, you can expect to appear in court for your post-conviction relief hearing, where your previous court transcripts will be read and analyzed, along with other documents. You might also choose to exercise your right to make a statement in court.

What are some examples of post-conviction relief cases?

Some common reasons for post-conviction relief are ineffective counsel and new evidence. If you believe your last attorney was ineffective, you might claim specifics like the attorney failed to explain the consequences of accepting or rejecting a plea offer, or that the attorney failed to investigate key witnesses that could have proved your innocence. To name another few examples, a claim of new evidence might involve a DNA test or other physical evidence, new witnesses, or existing witnesses who recanted (or took back) their statements.

If you believe you’re eligible to file for post-conviction relief in Florida, it’s imperative that you contact a qualified attorney who will pay close attention to the necessary procedures. The Sánchez-Roig Law Firm, P.A. is dedicated to ensuring that all of our clients see justice. Get in touch with our seasoned lawyers to discuss your options for relief after a criminal conviction.