Applications For Post-Conviction Relief
In Louisiana, a person who entered a guilty plea, or who was convicted at trial, and then exhausted all direct appeals so that the conviction and sentence are final, may file an application for post-conviction relief. In other words, clients who have entered a guilty plea or have been to trial and lost, and taken an appeal and lost, may still be entitled to a reversal of their conviction or a reduced sentence through an application for post-conviction relief. But, contrary to what many people believe, an application for post-conviction relief is not just another appeal in which the same issues raised in the previously decided appeals are repeated. Getting help from a Louisiana Post-Conviction Relief Lawyer can prove beneficial.
Under Louisiana law, with some very limited exceptions, an application for post-conviction relief must be filed within two years from the date conviction and sentence become final. To be entitled to relief, the person filing the application must either be in custody at the time the application for post-conviction relief is filed or suffering a substantial detriment from the judgment of conviction, which survived the satisfaction of the sentence imposed on him. This would allow an individual to file an application for post-conviction relief who faces any collateral consequence from his prior conviction, such as enhancement of the sentence for another pending charge or use of the conviction as an element of another crime for which he had been charged. “Custody” is defined in Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure Article 924(2) as “detention or confinement, or probation or parole supervision, after sentence following conviction for the commission of an offense.”
The grounds for filing an application for post-conviction relief are found in Article 930.3 of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure. If the petitioner is in custody after sentence for conviction for an offense, relief shall be granted only on the following grounds:
- The conviction was obtained in violation of the constitution of the United States or the state of Louisiana;
- The court exceeded its jurisdiction;
- The conviction or sentence subjected him to double jeopardy;
- The limitations on the institution of prosecution had expired;
- The statute creating the offense for which he was convicted and sentenced is unconstitutional; or
- The conviction or sentence constitute the ex post facto application of law in violation of the constitution of the United States or the state of Louisiana.
- The results of DNA testing performed pursuant to an application granted under Article 926.1 proves by clear and convincing evidence that the petitioner is factually innocent of the crime for which he was convicted.
However, the applicant has the burden of proving that relief sought in the application should be granted by the court. These cases require meticulous investigation, attention to detail, and substantial time, energy and effort. Typically, it is necessary to file public records requests with the investigative agencies office that conducted in the original investigation and the district attorney’s office that prosecuted the case to obtain information not available to the defense attorney who tried the case due to the limitations on pretrial discovery or because of investigative or prosecutorial misconduct. Often, an investigator is hired to re-investigate certain aspects of the case to see if any new evidence can be obtained that could contradict trial testimony or state’s evidence. Experts in the fields of mental health, ballistics, blood spatter, finger prints, DNA, police policies and procedures, and other fields of expertise may also be consulted to assist in reviewing the case and retained to testify at the hearing on the application for post-conviction relief. Many times, it is a slow moving, labor intensive, time consuming, and expensive process that can be extremely frustrating for the applicant. If you reside in Baton Rouge, LA or East Baton Rouge Parish, you can get help from a Post-Conviction Relief Attorney in Baton Rouge, LA or a Post-Conviction Relief Attorney in East Baton Rouge Parish. Call the office of David E. Stanley, APLC at (225) 306-8881.
Once the investigation and case analysis are complete, the application for post-conviction relief is filed with the same district court that conducted the original trial. It lays out in detail the legal grounds and the evidence which justify the relief sought and requests that the court hold a hearing. The prosecution invariably objects and raises procedural objections to the application contending that none of the claims should be heard because they are too late, repetitive, or have already been heard and decided on appeal. At this point, it is necessary to convince the district court to overrule these procedural objections and grant the applicant a hearing on the merits of the claims raised in the application. If the district court grants a hearing, then witness testimony, expert testimony, documents, and other newly discovered evidence may be introduced at the hearing to prove the legal grounds for relief contained in the application. These grounds may include, but are not limited to, evidence that the applicant received ineffective assistance of counsel during the trial, or that a prosecutor withheld information favorable to the defense, or that a witness or the victim committed perjury at trial, or that new evidence was found that may have changed the outcome of the trial.
If you are considering filing an application for post-conviction relief, do not delay. It is extremely important that you retain an attorney as soon as possible to make sure that your claims are not time barred and to allow your attorney sufficient time to investigate the claim, make the necessary public records requests, and perform a careful and detailed analysis of the evidence and applicable law. Applications for post-conviction relief are governed by detailed and limiting procedural rules, short and unforgiving filing deadlines, and very specific requirements which limit the claims that may be raised in the application. It is critical that you retain an experienced attorney to assist you who understands how to operate within these rules to avoid delays or a denial due to procedural or legal deficiencies in the application. The actions of the police, prosecutors, and judges deserve greater scrutiny in cases in which a guilty plea or conviction results in a lengthy prison sentence or imposition of the death penalty.
Errors and mistakes do occur, sometimes with devastating consequences to the person accused of a crime. Do not give up! David E. Stanley, APLC has the energy and resources necessary to assist you with your application for post-conviction relief. Do not delay. Get in touch with a Louisiana Post-Conviction Relief Lawyer. Call today to schedule an appointment to meet with David Stanley and get started working to achieve the relief you deserve.
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