Post Conviction Relief
In the event that your criminal appeal in the New Jersey Superior or Municipal Courts has been denied, or that your time to appeal has expired, Schwartz & Posnock can file a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief (PCR) to protect your interests. There is generally a five year time limit for filing a PCR, but that time may be extended under certain exceptions, including excusable neglect. In the Federal system, the equivalent application is known as a Habeas Corpus Petition.
The purpose of Post-Conviction Relief is to challenge your conviction, or, sometimes, your sentence. You may file for this relief in order to demonstrate that you were wrongfully convicted and that your constitutional rights were violated. The violation could have occurred at any phase of the criminal proceeding against you, including during the investigation, arrest, pre-trial, plea hearing, trial or sentencing.
Grounds for filing a PCR include a significant denial of a constitutional right either under the federal constitution or the constitution or statutes of New Jersey. These grounds include that the court lacked the jurisdiction to sentence you, your sentence exceeded the legal limits, prosecutorial misconduct, juror misconduct, failure by your attorney to advise you of a significant conflict of interest, ineffective assistance by your Superior Court or Municipal Court attorney, including allegations that your attorney failed to properly investigate your case, or acted in an incompetent manner at your trial. Further examples of ineffective assistance of counsel include when, in the course of entering a plea agreement, your attorney fails to advise you of the consequences of your plea, or the trial court did not fully advise you of the rights you were waiving when you entered a guilty plea. For example, if you are a non-citizen and your attorney or the court fail to advise you of the possibility of deportation or the deportation consequences of a guilty plea, or fail to advise you that you may face commitment under the Sexually Violent Predator’s Act for certain sexual crimes, a PCR may be successful.
It is important that you hire an experienced attorney who is familiar with the requirements of Post-Conviction Relief and fully conversant in the criminal law. Our experienced criminal lawyers can quickly obtain necessary documentation, review transcripts, and expertly determine which issues should be raised in a petition for Post-Conviction Relief. The results of a successful petition for Post-Conviction Relief can be dramatic. For example, in State v. C.C., our firm overturned a homicide conviction, and our client was freed from State Prison. In State v. R.G., we raised issues regarding whether our client – who had been convicted of attempted murder – understood the plea agreement he had entered, in light of his underlying mental illness.
Having an experienced, aggressive criminal lawyer is critical to the success of a Post-Conviction Relief petition, where your liberty, job, and reputation are at stake. We are result-oriented, and fight to win.