If you were convicted of a crime and lost your appeal, not all hope is lost. The next step is to file for post-conviction relief.
Post-conviction relief is different from the appeals process, and it takes an experienced lawyer who specializes in post-conviction filings to effectively handle your case. In Louisiana, you can only file after you have exhausted your appeal efforts.
What is post-conviction relief in Louisiana?
In Louisiana, an application for post-conviction relief is how you challenge your conviction after you’ve lost on appeal. Post-conviction relief, sometimes referred to as “habeas corpus,” has a long, storied history in the American legal system. It is a safeguard in our legal system meant to restore and protect your fundamental constitutional rights when your freedom has been taken away, regardless of what has already happened in your case.
There are strict laws that govern how long you have to file in Louisiana. You have exactly two years from the date your conviction becomes final to seek relief under the state system. Your conviction is considered final if your appeal is lost or abandoned at the Louisiana Supreme Court.
If you file for post-conviction relief, the things you can bring up in your post-conviction relief application are mostly limited to the following:
- New evidence that was discovered after your conviction
- Trial or investigation errors that the defense attorney did not know about or do before the conviction
- Laws have changed.
- There is newly discovered evidence showing your innocence.
- Your lawyer was ineffective.
- A prosecutor intentionally withheld evidence that proves your innocence, known as exculpatory evidence.
The goal is to either get your conviction overturned or your sentence lessened.
Is federal post-conviction relief different from Louisiana post-conviction relief?
Federal post-conviction relief, also commonly referred to as federal habeas relief, differs from post-conviction relief in Louisianae in a couple of different ways. Federal habeas relief requires that you first seek relief in Louisiana before federal habeas relief can be available. Federal habeas relief also has different time limits and requirements for what you are allowed to claim for relief. How to preserve your federal post-conviction relief is complicated and requires an experienced attorney to help guide your case.
What happens when you hire an attorney to file for post-conviction relief?
When you hire an experienced post-conviction relief attorney like Sam Winston, you can rest assured that he will handle your case as if he’s starting from the beginning. His work includes:
- Combing through case files and obtaining investigative documents that might not have been available to you or your defense attorney before your trial.
- Re-interviewing witnesses to look for inconsistencies and see if their stories have or haven’t changed.
- Finding experts who can review fingerprints, DNA and other physical evidence.
- Filing a post-conviction relief application and convincing a judge to grant a hearing
- Preparing for the hearing and arguing before a judge as to why your sentence should be overturned or your penalties lessened.
Just like any appeals process, filing for post-conviction relief is no small task. It takes an attorney who specializes in post-conviction relief cases. If you or someone you love need to speak to an attorney about post-conviction relief, contact the law office of Sam Winston today.