Every individual who has been convicted of a crime has the right to request post-conviction relief in Arizona (PCR). There are strict time limits when it comes to PCR, however. Having a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney representing you is imperative to get the best possible outcome.
An Overview of Post-Conviction Relief
The PCR procedure can be employed to have a court sentence reviewed for errors or omissions. Because the procedure is based on Criminal Procedure Rule 32.4, it is sometimes called a Rule 32 proceeding.
Post-conviction relief in Arizona can be requested by individuals who have been found guilty of a crime. A certain reason will have to be provided for the filing. The ineffectiveness of counsel is one of the most common reasons. If the ineffectiveness of the defense attorney is proved (a failure to interview witnesses or hire experts), the defendant could be entitled to having the conviction sentence vacated. A new trial will eventually be scheduled, giving the defendant an opportunity to be re-sentenced more favorably.
Arizona has seven grounds on which a defendant can request post-conviction relief. While the ineffectiveness of counsel is the most common one, it’s not the sole possibility. Other grounds for requesting PCR include a conviction that was obtained in violation of the US Constitution, the court lacking jurisdiction to render a verdict, a sentence that exceeds the maximum set by law, a defendant who is still in custody even after the sentence has expired and a significant change in the law that could potentially overturn the sentence.
Time Constraints and Other PCR Conditions
There is a strict time limit for filing post-conviction relief in Arizona. Thus, you shouldn’t waste any time after getting sentenced if you want to challenge the verdict.
A claim can be filed within 90 days from the original sentencing. Whenever the court verdict is appealed, the defendant will have 30 days from the date of the last appeal to move forward with the post-conviction relief process.
Whenever new evidence becomes available later on, the time limits mentioned above do not apply. If some evidence is uncovered following the sentencing, PCR relief can be requested, regardless of the amount of time that has passed.
After the petition is filed, it will rewind the case to a previous step. There are several possible outcomes. Whenever an error is identified, a retrial may be scheduled. Alternatively, case dismissal and a better plea agreement are also possible.
What Happens After Filing?
An attorney will examine the court proceedings and the possible grounds for filing. After the post-conviction relief petition is submitted, a Trial Court will be responsible for examining the claim.
It is up to the defendant and their legal representative to establish the fact that a mistake occurred during the legal proceedings and that the mistake had a massive, negative impact on the outcome of the trial.
The post-conviction relief process does not result in the dismissal of charges. Depending on the circumstances, it may lead to going back to square one. Once this happens, the trial will be re-launched and a different outcome could be obtained.
It will be up to the Trial Court to determine whether the petition will be approved or denied. Even if a PCR petition gets denied, an appeal is possible. If you feel that you have been wrongfully convicted, you have options to explore.
Because of the specifics of the process and the burden of proof requirements, getting an experienced legal representative will be one of the keys to a successful post-conviction relief petition. While some defendants feel that the PCR process cannot help them accomplish anything, this isn’t the case. The outcome of a case could be very different once errors are addressed and such an opportunity is definitely worth pursuing.