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Post Conviction Appeals

Arizona Post Conviction Appeals Attorney

Arizona Post Conviction Appeals Attorney

When it comes to post conviction appeals in Arizona, DwaneCates.Com, PLLC stands as a beacon of experience and legal expertise. Our firm has a strong history of successfully representing clients in cases involving post conviction appeals. If you or a loved one is looking to appeal a case post-conviction, it’s essential to have a dedicated Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney with the right experience by your side.

If you or a loved one is looking to appeal a case post-conviction in Arizona, remember that you don’t have to face the legal process alone. Contact Dwane Cates, PLLC today for a consultation. Our firm is committed to providing top-notch legal representation, protecting your rights, and striving for the best possible outcome in your case. Trust us to be your advocates during this challenging time.

What Is An Appeal?

An appeal is like a second chance in the legal world. It’s a way to ask a higher court to review and potentially change a decision made by a lower court. When you’ve been convicted of a crime in Arizona, it might seem like the end of the road, but it doesn’t have to be. In our state, anyone found guilty of a criminal offense has the right to challenge that decision.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Appeal Basics: When you’re convicted, your attorney can request all the records from your original trial. They’ll carefully go through every detail, looking for any mistakes or violations of your rights.

  2. What We Check: We review these records to ensure that your trial was fair and that your rights were respected. It’s like double-checking to make sure everything was done correctly the first time.

  3. Your Rights Matter: Remember, this is about protecting your constitutional rights. If we find any issues with how your case was handled, it could lead to a reduction in charges, a shorter sentence, a new trial, or even a complete overturning of your conviction.

However, it’s important to know what an appeal is not:

  1. No New Witnesses: An appeal isn’t an opportunity to bring in new witnesses or present new evidence. It’s more about reviewing what happened during your original trial.

  2. No Guarantees: Winning an appeal isn’t guaranteed. It’s a chance to ask for a review, but the outcome is uncertain.

  3. Not a Whole New Trial: An appeal doesn’t automatically mean you get a whole new trial. It’s more about making sure the first trial was fair.

Here’s the catch: appeals have strict time limits. If you were convicted in Maricopa, Pima, Yuma, Pinal, or another Arizona Superior Court, you have 20 days from the original judgment and sentencing to file your appeal. For convictions in city courts or justice courts, that window shrinks to just 10 days.

Don’t wait until it’s too late and your freedom is on the line, contact us today!

What Is Post Conviction Relief (PCR)?

In the realm of criminal law, the term “conviction” carries significant weight, often synonymous with the end of the road for those who have been found guilty of a crime. However, within the legal landscape of the State of Arizona, there exists a crucial mechanism that can breathe new life into a seemingly concluded case—the Petition for Post-Conviction Relief (PCR).

It’s the legal remedy when the errors in your case may not be readily evident from the trial record or when you opted for a plea deal rather than going to trial. PCR allows for a more comprehensive review of the entire case, including aspects beyond what is captured in the trial transcripts. This in-depth examination can unearth violations of your constitutional rights that might not have been apparent during the original trial.

Uncovering Hidden Injustices: The PCR Process

Imagine the original trial as a puzzle, with the trial record representing some of the pieces. PCR aims to complete the puzzle by searching for missing pieces—details, legal nuances, or procedural errors that may have been overlooked.

When you initiate a PCR, your attorney will meticulously gather all records related to your original court proceedings. They will scrutinize every line, every document, and every aspect of your case, leaving no stone unturned. The objective is clear: to identify any infringements on your rights, no matter how subtle, that may have occurred during the course of your trial or legal proceedings.

The Potential Outcomes of a PCR: Your Second Chance at Justice

The pursuit of a PCR is not an exercise in futility but rather a vital avenue for those who believe that justice may not have been fully realized in their case. Should your attorney uncover any errors or violations of your rights, several potential outcomes may emerge:

  1. Reduction of Charges: If significant errors or constitutional violations are identified, it could lead to a reduction in the charges against you. This could mean a lighter sentence and a more favorable legal standing.

  2. New Trial: In cases where the violations are substantial, a PCR might result in a new trial. This provides an opportunity to present your case with a fresh perspective, potentially leading to a different outcome.

  3. Complete Conviction Reversal: In some instances, the PCR process may reveal such profound injustices or violations that it results in the complete reversal of your conviction. This is the ultimate goal of the PCR—a chance to start anew, free from the burden of a wrongful conviction.


Types of Post Conviction Relief Claims

In the Arizona legal system, individuals convicted of crimes have options to challenge their convictions or sentences through a process called Post-Conviction Relief. This legal avenue can be pursued based on several grounds:

  1. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel: One of the most common reasons for seeking post-conviction relief is claiming that your attorney’s representation during the legal process was subpar. This could relate to actions taken during your trial, plea negotiations, sentencing, or previous post-conviction relief attempts.

    To establish this claim, you must demonstrate that your attorney’s representation was seriously flawed and that there’s a reasonable likelihood your case’s outcome would have been different if not for these flaws. Examples include:

    • Failure to investigate evidence beneficial to your case.
    • Providing incorrect or misleading information.
    • Neglecting to explain your legal options.
    • Not disclosing a conflict of interest.
    • Failing to enlist experts when necessary.
    • Missing important court deadlines.
  2. Illegal Sentence: This pertains to situations where the sentence imposed upon you isn’t authorized by the law or your plea agreement. For instance, if you were sentenced to a punishment not allowed by Arizona law at the time of your offense, you may have a valid claim for post-conviction relief. However, these claims can be complex and may require legal review to determine their validity.

    An illustrative case involved an individual sentenced to lifetime probation for a crime committed before this sentence was legally permissible. The Arizona Supreme Court recognized this illegality and ordered a new, legal sentence.

  3. New Evidence: If you unearth new evidence that could have significantly altered your case’s outcome but was not available at your trial or sentencing, you might be eligible for post-conviction relief. This could encompass discoveries like new DNA evidence, crucial witnesses, or mental health diagnoses not previously recognized.

    To pursue this claim, you must meet specific criteria:

    • The evidence must have been discovered post-trial or sentencing.
    • It should have been impossible to uncover and present at your trial through due diligence.
    • You or your attorney must have exercised due diligence in identifying and presenting the new evidence.
    • The new evidence must be material, meaning it could have changed your case’s outcome.

    This claim isn’t meant for adding onto existing evidence or merely challenging witness credibility. However, if new evidence undermines crucial testimony used against you, it may be considered.

  4. Change in the Law: If there’s a significant legal change that could impact your conviction or sentence, you may seek post-conviction relief. It’s essential to note that this relief depends on whether the new law can be retroactively applied to your case, meaning it applies to past events.

    For instance, if a law is enacted after your conviction that would have altered your case’s outcome, you may have grounds for post-conviction relief.

In summary, post-conviction relief offers individuals a path to challenge their convictions or sentences based on grounds like ineffective counsel, illegal sentences, new evidence, or changes in the law. These avenues ensure that justice remains a possibility even after a conviction.

Appeals Process & Candidates

If you’ve been convicted of a crime in Arizona, you have the right to appeal your case. An appeal essentially means requesting a review of the trial’s outcome. While you don’t always need a specific reason to file an appeal, most often, individuals choose this path because they believe they’ve been unjustly convicted. This commonly occurs due to two main reasons:

  1. Judicial Errors: Appeals often arise when individuals believe that either the judge mishandled a motion or made incorrect rulings during the trial. These errors might have influenced the case’s outcome unfairly.

  2. Incorrect Findings: Sometimes, people appeal because they believe the judge or jury wrongly found them guilty. In other words, they feel that they should not have been convicted based on the evidence presented.

Appeals can apply to any type of criminal case, but they’re more prevalent when significant consequences hang in the balance. While you can appeal any felony or misdemeanor, successful appeals frequently involve cases with intricate legal complexities where mistakes in the lower court’s proceedings are more likely.

However, not all convictions are eligible for appeal in Arizona. Here are two common scenarios where appeals are restricted:

  1. Plea Agreements: If you’re convicted through a plea agreement, you typically waive your right to appeal. In such cases, your avenue for review is limited to a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief (PCR), which has narrower grounds for reconsideration than an appeal.

  2. Timely Filing: Missing the deadline to file an appeal can also forfeit your right to appellate review. Arizona imposes strict timelines depending on the conviction type and court of origin. For instance, you might have as little as 14 days for lower court convictions or 20 days for Superior Court convictions to initiate your appeal.

Now, let’s explore what makes a case a strong contender for a successful appeal:

Appeal Potential: Some appeals stand a higher chance of success, while others may struggle to reverse the initial decision. The most promising appeals are those where the appellate court grants minimal deference to the trial court’s rulings. Issues of law, such as constitutional questions or statutory interpretation, fall into this category. In these instances, the appellate court has more freedom to substitute its judgment for that of the trial court.

Discretionary Rulings: Conversely, appeals that involve discretionary decisions at the trial court level are less likely to succeed. In these cases, the trial court’s judgment is reviewed under the “abuse of discretion” standard, and Arizona’s appellate courts tend to show significant respect for the lower court’s discretion.

In essence, the success of an appeal often hinges on the nature of the legal issues involved and the level of discretion exercised by the trial court. Understanding these dynamics can guide individuals seeking to navigate the complexities of the appeals process in Arizona.