Certified Criminal Trial Attorney

Challenging a Conviction or Sentence in New Jersey

Challenging a Conviction or Sentence in New Jersey

POST CONVICTION AND SENTENCE CHALLENGES

Challenging Your Conviction and Sentence

DIRECT APPEALS – SUPERIOR COURT

There are several ways that you can challenge your conviction. Whether you entered a guilty plea or went to trial and were convicted, there are ways to change your result.  Appeal: First, you have 45 days to appeal the conviction. You have an additional thirty days, and even more, if you obtain a lawyer as soon as possible. Even if you are not sure that you have the money to hire a private attorney, make sure that you advise the court and the office of the public defender that you want to appeal.  That way the time to file an appeal is preserved. At any time during your appeal process you can and should speak to Ms. Cohen and she can take over the appeal from the public defender’s office.  

Many times your plea states that you cannot appeal, but if you want to withdraw from the plea you must appeal.  The State may allow you to withdraw from the plea or you can ask an appellate court to allow you to withdraw from the plea. This is especially true if you believe that your attorney did not do his/her job in the case.  Remember, however, that if you want to withdraw from the plea, all of your charges will be re-instated and you will go back to the original charges. If you are not sure what to do, feel free to call Ms. Cohen for advice.

If you have been convicted at trial, you almost always must file an appeal because if you do not many grounds will be lost forever.  It is essential that you do not give up that right. If you miss the deadlines to file an appeal your right could be lost. So especially if you were not happy with your attorney who represented you at trial, Jill Cohen may be able to find mistakes that were made at trial and change your result. Even if the 75 day period has passed, Jill Cohen may be able to help.

APPEALS FROM MUNICIPAL COURT DECISIONS

Jill Cohen has a great amount of experience appealing your municipal court conviction to a higher court.  Appeals from municipal court convictions are very likely successful. Many times either your lawyer, the municipal court prosecutor or the municipal court judge made mistakes.  If you are convicted you must contact Ms. Cohen as soon as possible because you only have 20 days to file an appeal. Even if you are not sure, talk to her and you may want to file a Notice of Appeal right away so that you do not lose your rights to challenge the decision. Even if you are not sure whether you want to appeal, ask her opinion before you lose your right to appeal.

RECONSIDERATION OF SENTENCE

You can also ask the court to reconsider your sentence.  A lot of times you may have new information that would help you at sentencing.  If you hire a lawyer like Jill Cohen, she can gather good evidence that was not considered by the court with a previous attorney. You only have 90 days to reconsider the sentence but it is worth trying if you were not happy with the lawyer who previously represented you and there are reasons for a lighter sentence.

MOTION FOR POST CONVICTION RELIEF

A lot of people want to reconsider a sentence later on, while they are serving their sentence in prison.  That is usually done with a motion for post-conviction relief, pursuant New Jersey Court Rules 3:22-1 to 22.  You file a petition for post-conviction relief if your constitutional rights were violated. Most likely you can challenge the effectiveness of your counsel, whether you entered a plea or went to trial.  Ms. Cohen has been handling petitions for post-conviction relief for many years. Although it is difficult to win, it is usually worth a try to change your sentence or challenge your conviction if you feel that your conviction is unjust.  You generally must file a motion within 5 years of the date of your sentencing. You must also wait until your appeal is decided. Even if you did not file an appeal you may be entitled to fight the conviction through a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief. 

If you want to challenge the sentence later, you have to get permission of the prosecutor, unless there are life-threatening problems. Challenging the sentence is better done with a motion for post-conviction relief.