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Many people might be surprised to know that even after a full series of direct appeals from a criminal conviction are decided, there may yet remain an avenue for a convicted defendant to seek relief from a sentence or conviction. Post-conviction remedies, often known also as motions or petitions for habeas corpus, can, in some limited situations, overturn or change a prior criminal conviction and sentence. Unlike direct appeals that focus on errors at trial, habeas petitions focus on constitutional deprivations, such as ineffective assistance of counsel. The attorneys at Clouthier Cooperstein PLLC regularly handle post-conviction matters in both State and Federal court. Our experienced appellate lawyers are skilled in performing an investigation and reviewing the case to find and litigate the potential claims that might support post-conviction relief.
Post-conviction challenges differ from direct appeals in that we are looking for what is missing from the record in violation of the Constitution rather than errors at trial. Importantly, it is not an automatic do-over. In fact, post-conviction relief is rarely granted, and it requires a great deal of knowledge and expertise to present a meritorious habeas claim. Also, claims that were argued, or could have been argued, during a direct appeal cannot be considered. For a post-conviction claim to have a chance of consideration and success in the courts, it takes a thorough legal review of your case to determine if there are constitutional problems, a new development in the law, or new evidence that was not otherwise available during the earlier trial and appeals.
Nonetheless, both state and federal laws put strict time limits on the window available to file these motions, and, as a result, it is important that you seek advice from an attorney at the earliest possible time. The calculations of these time limits are strict and complicated, and while there may sometimes be certain and few exceptions, they depend entirely on the facts and circumstances of your situation, so you should seek the advice of experienced criminal appellate attorneys right away.
The federal laws governing post-conviction relief set a one-year time limit within which to file with the court after the conviction becomes final. The federal court’s review of a conviction in a Mississippi state court can only take place after all possible appeals and post-conviction reviews have taken place in the Mississippi state court system, after which the one-year limit applies.
Mississippi state court criminal convictions should therefore go through the Mississippi state system of post-conviction review before seeking a review in federal court. The time limit for seeking post-conviction review in the Mississippi state courts is three years, after the completion of a direct appeal, or after the time to appeal has expired. If there had been a direct appeal, the post-conviction motion goes first to the Mississippi Supreme Court, and if the Court grants leave for the motion, the motion then goes first to the Mississippi trial court. Other motions for post-conviction relief, after there had been no direct appeal, go straight to the trial court, after which they can be appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court.
The attorneys of Clouthier Cooperstein stay up to date and current on developments in this complicated area of state and federal law. Both attorneys Clouthier and Cooperstein regularly litigate post-conviction motions, and together their experience will benefit you if you choose to seek relief after exhausting all direct appeals.
Contact the attorneys at Clouthier Cooperstein to consult about whether there may be potential post-conviction claims to pursue in your case.