New Jersey Post Conviction Relief Attorney
Experienced Criminal Attorney Helps Clients in Camden, Gloucester, Burlington, Atlantic, Salem, Mercer, Cape May County, and Across NJ
If you’ve been convicted of a crime in South Jersey and believe that errors were made during your trial or that you received ineffective representation from your trial attorney, your options for seeking relief may be limited. You can file an appeal from your conviction, but you only have a short window after your conviction becomes final to do so. However, if serious errors occurred during your trial that deprived you of a fair trial or that affect the legality of your conviction or your sentence, you may be entitled to seek post-conviction relief.
A successful petition for post-conviction relief can have your sentence or conviction overturned and your case returned for a new sentencing hearing or a new trial, which may lead to a reduction in the severity of your sentence or even lead to you securing an acquittal in a new trial; under certain circumstances, post-conviction relief can even lead to the dismissal of your charges. However, the grounds on which courts grant post-conviction relief are limited, and many petitions are denied. That is why you need experienced legal representation to help determine whether you have a viable claim for post-conviction relief and to help you craft a strong, persuasive argument in favor of being granted post-conviction relief.
If you or a loved one are seeking options for challenging your conviction in New Jersey, contact The Law Office of Jill R. Cohen today for a no-cost case evaluation to discuss your options for seeking post-conviction relief and to learn more about how Attorney Jill Cohen can fight to protect your rights in a post-conviction proceeding.
Reasons Why Courts Grant Post-Conviction Relief
Under the court rules of New Jersey, there are five general categories under which courts grant post-conviction relief:
- The defendant suffered a substantial deprivation of his or her state or federal constitutional rights, including a violation of procedural or substantive due process
- The trial court lacked jurisdiction to impose a judgment of conviction upon the defendant
- The sentence imposed exceeded or was otherwise not in accordance with the sentences authorized by law
- Trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a direct appeal of the judgment of conviction upon the defendant’s timely request
- Any other ground previously recognized for relief under a petition of habeas corpus or another statutory or common law remedy from conviction
Post-conviction relief can be obtained to achieve many different goals, including having your charges outright dismissed due to a lack of jurisdiction, having your conviction overturned and obtaining a new trial, having your sentence vacated and obtaining a less-severe sentence at resentencing, having old convictions vacated to avoid having those prior convictions enhance your sentencing for a new conviction (for example, having an old DUI conviction vacated on post-conviction relief to avoid the enhanced sentencing imposed for second and subsequent DUI convictions), or having convictions vacated to avoid automatic deportation.
Criminal Defense Lawyer Jill Cohen Fights to Secure Post-Conviction Relief for Clients
Although you are entitled to challenge any errors in your criminal prosecution by filing an appeal, the time to file an appeal quickly disappears. When you are no longer eligible to appeal your conviction but have viable claims that your constitutional or legal rights were violated by your conviction or sentence, you may be entitled to file a petition for post-conviction relief to have your erroneous conviction or sentence overturned and to get a new trial or sentencing hearing.
Criminal defense attorney Jill Cohen uses her extensive legal knowledge and experience with the New Jersey criminal justice system to fight to get her clients post-conviction relief when constitutional and legal errors were made in their trials. Attorney Cohen can review the records from your trial to determine if your due process rights were violated, if you received a sentence that isn’t authorized by law, or if you suffered from ineffective assistance from your trial counsel. Ms. Cohen has the expertise to help you put together an effective and persuasive claim for post-conviction relief that may ultimately lead you to receive a new sentencing hearing or a new trial.
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 the permission of the prosecutor, unless there are life-threatening problems. Challenging the sentence is better done with a motion for post-conviction relief.
Schedule a Free Consultation with The Law Office of Jill R. Cohen to Discuss Your Eligibility for Post-Conviction Relief
If you or a loved one have been convicted of a crime in New Jersey and are wondering what your options for challenging your conviction may be, contact The Law Office of Jill R. Cohen today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation to discuss your legal rights and options and to learn more about how Attorney Jill Cohen can help you prepare and pursue a petition for post-conviction relief.
Frequently Asked Questions about Post-Conviction Relief in New Jersey:
Under New Jersey’s court rules, a first petition for post-conviction relief must be filed within five years of the date of entry of the judgment of conviction being challenged, unless a defendant can show that his or her delay was due to excusable neglect and denying the claim would result in fundamental injustice. A second or subsequent petition for post-conviction relief must be filed within one year of the date (1) on which the new constitutional right was recognized by the U.S. or New Jersey Supreme Courts (if asserting relief based on a new constitutional right), (2) on which the facts underlying the defendant’s petition became known and those facts could not have been discovered through reasonable diligence, or (3) the date of denial of the first or prior application for post-conviction relief if the defendant is alleging ineffective assistance of post-conviction counsel.
Not necessarily. When the court grants post-conviction relief, depending on your claim for relief it may include dismissing your criminal charges and terminating any further prosecution. However, in most post-conviction relief cases, the court will instead vacate your conviction and/or your sentence and order a new trial (assuming double jeopardy protections do not apply) or a new sentencing hearing.