Post Conviction Relief

What is Post Conviction Relief?

Post-Conviction Relief (PCR) refers to legal remedies and procedures available to individuals who have been convicted of a crime and exhausted their direct appeals. It is a mechanism for seeking relief from a conviction or sentence that may have been obtained in violation of constitutional rights or due to errors or prosecutorial misconduct during the original trial. It can also often be used to assert a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, an actual innocence claim, newly discovered evidence, or a recent favorable change in the law.

The purpose of post-conviction relief is to provide a means for reviewing the legality of a conviction and addressing any errors or constitutional violations that may have occurred during the trial or sentencing phase that were not raised on direct appeal. It can also assert ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. It allows defendants to present new evidence, challenge the validity of their conviction, or raise issues that were not previously addressed. Often an evidentiary hearing is held before the trial judge to establish new facts.

It’s important to note that post-conviction relief is a distinct legal process separate from direct appeals. Direct appeals occur immediately following a conviction and are focused on reviewing errors or legal issues that occurred during the trial proceedings. Post-conviction relief, on the other hand, almost always takes place after the direct appeals have been exhausted and allows for a review of certain issues not raised on direct appeal involving the conviction or sentence.

Overall, post-conviction relief serves as a safeguard to protect the rights of individuals who believe they have been wrongly convicted or sentenced, providing them with an opportunity to seek remedies when errors or violations have occurred during the criminal justice process.

What does Post Conviction Relief Involve?

Post-conviction relief typically involves filing a petition with the court that originally presided over the trial. The specific procedures and requirements for seeking post-conviction relief vary by jurisdiction, as different states have their own legal systems and rules. The federal court system has its own criminal procedural rules in this area. Generally, the petitioner (the person seeking relief) must demonstrate that there are grounds for relief, such as the discovery of new evidence, ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, or a violation of constitutional rights not previously reviewed.

The court will review the petition and consider the arguments presented by the petitioner. If the court finds merit in the claims raised, it may grant various forms of relief, such as a new trial, a reduced sentence, or even the overturning of the conviction. Often, a court will schedule an evidentiary hearing and oral arguments before deciding an issue.

What does a Post Conviction Attorney do?

A post-conviction attorney is a legal professional who is experienced in representing individuals who have been convicted of a crime and are seeking to challenge their conviction or sentence after both the trial and the direct appeal have concluded. Their role is to review the entire case for potential legal errors or constitutional violations and to pursue legal remedies to correct any injustices that may have occurred during the trial, sentencing or direct appeal process.

Here are some specific tasks that a post-conviction attorney may undertake:

Case Review: The attorney carefully examines all the trial records, transcripts, evidence, and other relevant documents to identify potential grounds for appeal or post-conviction relief. Often the trial attorney’s file is examined as well. Sometimes, the trial attorney is interviewed as well.

Identifying Legal Issues: They analyze the case and research legal issues to determine if there were any errors in the application of the law, violations of constitutional rights, or procedural mistakes during the trial or sentencing phase. This can also include a review of the direct appellate process.

Appeals: If there are valid legal issues that can be raised on direct appeal, the attorney may file an appeal with a higher court, arguing that errors or violations occurred during the trial that affected the fairness or outcome of the case. They present legal arguments and briefs to support their client’s position.

Post-Conviction Relief: In addition to appeals, post-conviction attorneys may seek relief through other means, such as filing petitions for writs of habeas corpus, which challenge the legality of a person’s confinement. These petitions typically involve claims of constitutional violations, newly discovered evidence, ineffective assistance of counsel, or other circumstances that warrant a new trial or a modification of the sentence.

Evidentiary Hearings: In some cases, post-conviction attorneys may request evidentiary hearings to present new evidence or witnesses that were not available during the trial or to inform judges about issues that occurred during or after the trial. These hearings provide an opportunity to challenge the original conviction or sentence based on the newly presented information.

Collaboration with Experts: Post-conviction attorneys may work with investigators, forensic experts, and other professionals to gather additional evidence or expert opinions that can support their client’s claims.

Negotiations and Plea Bargaining: In certain situations, post-conviction attorneys may engage in negotiations with the prosecution to secure a reduced sentence or alternative resolution for their clients. This could involve negotiating a plea deal or advocating for the modification of the original sentence.

It’s important to note that the specific responsibilities and procedures may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of each case. Post-conviction attorneys play a crucial role in ensuring that individuals have a fair opportunity to challenge their convictions and sentences within the legal system.

The lawyers at the Attorneys For Freedom Law Firm are very familiar with the legal remedies found in post-conviction relief and have represented many clients in this process. Our attorneys are admitted in both state and federal courts and have over three decades of experience with post-conviction relief filings.

To schedule a Strategy Session with an experienced post-conviction relief attorney, contact the Attorneys For Freedom today. We can be reached online at or by calling our Arizona office at 480-755-7110 or our Hawai’i office at 808-647-2423.


Arizona Office Address:
3185 S. Price Rd.
Chandler, AZ 85248
Phone: 480-755-7110
Hawai’i Office Address:
1003 Bishop Street, Suite 1260 Pauahi Tower
Honolulu, Hawai’i 96813
Phone: 808-647-2423
Lindsay H
Lindsay H
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