What You Should Know About Your Post-Conviction Relief Options
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 for your conviction, but you only have a short time frame in which to do so.
If you or a loved one is seeking options for challenging your conviction, I can help. At my Haddonfield law firm, The Law Office of Jill R. Cohen, I use my extensive legal knowledge and experience with the New Jersey criminal justice system to fight for my clients’ rights. I am committed to pursuing post-conviction relief and criminal appeals on your behalf when constitutional and legal errors were made in your trial.
I understand how frustrating and difficult it can be to be convicted of a crime, especially when you believe the conviction was made in error. I 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. I have the knowledge and insight needed 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.
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.
If Granted Post-Conviction Relief Does That Mean I Am Free?
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.
Let’s Discuss Your Eligibility For Post-Conviction Relief
Although you are entitled to challenge any errors in your criminal prosecution by filing an appeal, the time to file an appeal quickly disappears. This is why it is so important to talk with a lawyer as soon as possible about your concerns.