According to some studies, approximately 10,000 innocent people are convicted every year in the United States. That is why there is a process in place to protect innocent people from human error in the criminal justice system. Post-conviction matters generally refer to the legal process that takes place once a defendant is convicted for a crime after going to trial. If a defendant has been found guilty, he or she can challenge a conviction or sentence. There are different legal actions one can take to protest a guilty verdict, such as filing an appeal or a federal “habeas corpus” proceeding. These matters are usually intended to exonerate the defendant, which means proving he or she is innocent. If you or someone you know is facing a jail sentence after being convicted of a crime, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you exercise your legal rights by filing an appeal or petitioning for post-conviction relief.
An Appeal Versus a Post-Conviction Petition
Direct appeals are limited to issues contained in the trial court record or the transcripts of the court proceedings. This can also include any documents filed in connection with the case. With a direct appeal, a defendant can only cite errors that are documented in the court record from the trial. If an error cannot be shown in the trial court record, it generally cannot be used in a direct appeal.
In a petition for habeas corpus, a convicted party can raise doubts about the legality of his or her imprisonment. If the petition shows that the imprisonment warrants investigation, a judge may issue a writ of habeas corpus.
The Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act offers civil “relief” for criminal convictions. Under this form of remedy, a petition can be filed to challenge a conviction or a sentence based on constitutional rights that were violated outside of the trial. Typically, these issues were not and could not have been raised by directly appealing the sentence. In many cases, a petition may be based on new evidence that proves a person was innocent of the crime for which he or she was convicted. Depending on the case, this may also involve juror misconduct, evidence tampering, or failure by the prosecution to turn over witness statements that would effectively prove innocence.
Who Can File a Post-Conviction Petition?
A post-conviction petition can be filed under special circumstances, such as in the following instances:
- The defendant’s constitutional rights were violated.
- The defendant was convicted based on these violations.
- The defendant is currently in prison.
- The defendant was released on an appeal bond following a conviction.
- The defendant was released under mandatory supervision.
- The defendant was sentenced to probation.
Contact a DuPage County Criminal Defense Attorney
Some people may think that once a verdict is issued in criminal court, that automatically means it is final. In reality, a person who is convicted of a crime has the option of appealing the sentence given to him or her. At Anderson Attorneys & Advisors, we have more than 20 years of experience representing clients in all types of criminal cases, including appeals. That is why it is important to speak to our skilled Wheaton post-conviction lawyers so you understand your rights if you are convicted of any crime in Illinois. To schedule your free consultation and learn how we can assist you, call us today at 630-877-5800.