If a jury convicts you of a crime after a contested probation violation hearing, you could discover afterward that your conviction may not be legal or fundamentally fair under Arizona law. You might consider a direct appeal, but those are only available if you are convicted at trial.
If the issues you want to raise with the court coincide with Arizona law, you may ask for a new trial or sentencing hearing, even if you pled guilty to a crime. A Gilbert post-conviction relief lawyer could help you file a petition to challenge your conviction or sentence. The dedicated attorneys at the Grand Canyon Law Group are ready to help. Call today to schedule a free consultation.
Defendants who plead guilty will find that a post-conviction relief petition works much like a direct appeal, except the relief proceedings allow your attorney to present new information not available when you pled guilty, whereas a direct appeal does not.
Once you file a post-conviction relief petition, the trial court will review it to ensure you have a “colorable claim.” This means that if what you are alleging is true, the outcome of your trial or sentencing probably would have been different. If you do not have a colorable claim, the petition is dismissed. If you do, the courts will schedule an Evidentiary Hearing.
You will also have the burden of proof by a preponderance of the evidence that your claim is valid, unlike at trial, where the prosecution must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If your issue is based on a violation of the Arizona or the United States Constitution, the prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the error would not change the outcome of your conviction.
Rule 32.1 of the Arizona Criminal Procedure offers examples of issues you can raise if you were convicted after a trial, and Rule 33.1 lists the scope of issues you can raise after pleading guilty. The following are some examples.
Since the right to counsel is guaranteed by both the Arizona and United States Constitutions, if the attorney who represented you at trial, or even on direct appeal, did not assist you as required, a local post-conviction relief attorney could argue that your constitutional rights were violated because of defective counsel and the outcome of your trial or plea would have been different because of it. Examples of ineffective counsel include:
Since state laws are amended over time, sometimes a defendant is sentenced under current Arizona law that was not the law when the crime was committed. A post-conviction relief petition would argue that a defendant’s sentence was illegal after a jury trial or plea for a crime committed possibly years before sentencing.
DNA evidence has changed the landscape for new evidence capable of affecting the outcome of a sentence in post-conviction relief cases. To rely on this issue or any other, the evidence must be discovered after the trial but must have existed at the time of the trial. However, your attorney could not have found or produced it despite exercising due diligence.
Since laws evolve to maintain a fair justice system, a significant change in the law applied to past cases could be grounds for post-conviction relief. An example is that minors who were once sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole are now eligible for parole review in some states.
Arizona laws are specific when it comes to your options after a conviction and sentencing hearing. It matters whether a jury convicted you or you accepted a guilty plea.
Even if you unsuccessfully sought help before, contact one of our Gilbert post-conviction relief lawyers at the Grand Canyon Law Group for a fresh opinion about your unique case. Schedule a consultation today to learn more.