The court system is not perfect. There is always the possibility of mistakes being made, which includes unfairly convicting someone of a criminal offense. If you are a victim of an unfair conviction or a sentence that was extremely harsh, you may have an opportunity to successfully change the wrongful court conviction.
After the conclusion of your criminal case, you can do one of two things:
- If you plead guilty, you waive your right to appeal, but are eligible to file for post-conviction relief (PCR).
- If you are found guilty, you can pursue either a direct appeal or PCR.
When you appeal a conviction, you are asking a higher court—known as an appellate court—to review your case and the conviction. An appeal is not considered a new trial, only a review of your previous trial and sentencing.
To appeal your case, you must prove that the verdict against you was incorrect or that there were errors in the handling of the case throughout the trial. Keep in mind, appeals are limited to the evidence raised at trial only.
If you wish to pursue a direct appeal, you only have 30 days to do so.
PCR is only available in a specific set of circumstances, and often occurs after all appellate avenues have been exhausted after a trial or directly following a guilty plea with open terms. It can be filed before or during an appeal; however, the appeal typically has to be stayed or postponed for the PCR to run its course.
According to Indiana law, the grounds for claiming post-conviction relief include:
- The individual’s conviction or sentence is in conflict with the state’s laws or with the U.S. Constitution.
- The court was without jurisdiction to impose the sentence.
- The sentence is excessive or it is erroneous in some way.
- There exists evidence of material facts, not previously presented and heard, which requires vacation of the conviction or sentence in the interest of justice.
- The individual is being unlawfully held in custody.
- Any other legal error related to the conviction or sentence has occurred.
Three copies of the PCR petition needs to be filed with the court where the petition took place. Once the petition is filed, the court can decide on the case with or without a hearing taking place.
If you are interested in filing an appeal or a petition for post-conviction relief, contact Wruble Law Group and request a free consultation with our South Bend criminal defense attorneys today.