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Post-Conviction Relief: How And Why


Only a tiny fraction of defendants in criminal cases make it their goal to have the last word; most of them just want to put their criminal cases behind them.  The vast majority of cases result in guilty pleas; defendants want their sentences to start and end as quickly as possible, so that they can go back to their families and be a step closer to getting their voting rights back.  It is reasonable to fight your criminal charges if you have evidence that you are innocent or that the state violated your rights.  These rights persist even after you have been convicted.  “No double jeopardy” applies if you have been acquitted.  If you have been wrongfully convicted, though, you have the right to go back to court to try to get the court to reverse your conviction or lighten your sentence; you can do this either by appealing your conviction or sentence or by requesting post-conviction relief.  A West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer can help you get justice after being wrongfully convicted.

What Is Post-Conviction Relief?

Post-conviction relief is where you ask the same court that convicted you to grant you a new trial or to dismiss your case and throw out your conviction.  These are some reasons why defendants might seek post-conviction relief:

  • New evidence that indicates your innocence emerged after your trial.
  • Your court-appointed criminal defense attorney did not handle your case correctly or gave you bad legal advice.
  • The law has changed since you were convicted, such that, if you were tried now, you would not be guilty of any crimes. (For example, if Florida were to decriminalize cannabis at the state level, defendants who had been convicted on marijuana possession could apply for post-conviction relief on this basis.)
  • You have received a pardon.
  • You did not receive a fair trial because your trial was unnecessarily delayed or the judge unfairly allowed or prohibited certain pieces of evidence at the trial.

What Is the Difference Between Post-Conviction Relief and Filing an Appeal?

To request post-conviction relief, you must file a motion with the same court that originally issued your conviction.  In your motion, you should include as much detail as possible, such as which plea you entered and, if you pleaded not guilty, whether you testified at your trial and which defenses you used.  You should also be specific about what you are asking the court to do, such as whether you are asking for a new trial or to have the case against you dismissed.

By contrast, when you file an appeal, you are bringing your case before a higher court and asking it to reverse the decision issued by the court that convicted you.  An appeal is the best option if you think that, despite your trial being fair, the jury made the wrong decision by finding you guilty.

Contact a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

Attorney William Wallshein has more than 39 years of experience, including five years as a prosecutor in Palm Beach County.  Contact William Wallshein P.A. in West Palm Beach, Florida to discuss your case.



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