If a defendant has been convicted of a state or federal crime, and either lost his or her appeal or did not appeal, our attorneys can help the defendant challenge the conviction in a post-conviction proceeding.
Post-conviction proceedings are similar to appeals in that a defendant may ask the court to review his or her trial for any errors. However, unlike an appeal, the defendant can ask the court to travel outside the scope of the written record of the case and review any unfair aspect of the trial or appeal. For example, a defendant may request a new trial based on newly-discovered evidence that was not available at the original trial. A defendant also may be entitled to a new trial if he or she can demonstrate that his or her attorney provided ineffective assistance at trial or on appeal, or if his or her conviction was otherwise obtained in violation of either the North Carolina or Federal Constitutions.
In state court, the defendant will file a motion for appropriate relief, or “MAR,” which typically is heard before the judge who presided over the original trial. If the judge denies the MAR, the defendant may ask the North Carolina Court of Appeals to review the MAR. If the defendant is not successful in the state courts, he or she may file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, or “2254 petition,” in federal district court. To succeed in federal court, the defendant must demonstrate that the denial of his MAR in state court was contrary to federal law, involved an unreasonable application of well-established federal law, or was based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state-court proceedings. If the defendant’s 2254 petition is unsuccessful, he or she may appeal the case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and then may petition the United States Supreme Court to review the case.
In federal court, the defendant will file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, or “2255 petition.” This petition is typically heard before the judge who presided over the original trial. If the judge grants the petition, the defendant may be entitled to a new trial, a new sentencing hearing, or even a dismissal of the charges. If the judge denies the defendant’s motion, he or she may appeal the case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and then may petition the United States Supreme Court to review the case.
State and federal post-conviction proceedings are governed by complex procedural rules and strict deadlines. For that reason, it is important to have an attorney who knows how to navigate the state and federal post-conviction process. Our attorneys have the experience necessary to help you successfully challenge your conviction. Because of the strict deadlines involved in post-conviction proceedings, make sure to contact our office today for a consultation on your particular case.