What is Post-Conviction Relief?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 04 May 2020
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Post-conviction relief is an umbrella term for legal remedies available to people after they have been convicted of a crime. Most nations provide post-conviction relief under the law as a form of protection to people who have been convicted of crimes. Being convicted does not mean that someone gives up all legal rights, and there may be a number of options available to convicts, depending on the nation, the nature of the crime, and individual criminal history.

The right to appeal is a form of post-conviction relief. People who believe that they have been wrongfully convicted, who wish to apply for sentence modification, or who would like to argue that there were problems with their trials which necessitate a new trial can appeal. This form of post-conviction relief is pursued by many people after conviction, with the assistance of a lawyer who practices primarily in the area of appeals and other forms of post-conviction relief and thus has ample experience in this aspect of the law.

Other examples include things like record expungement, in which a negative entry on someone's criminal record is removed so that it will not pose obstacles in the future. Post-conviction relief can also include activities such as modifying restrictions which may be placed on a convict. For example, someone may have his or her license revoked, and a lawyer could appeal to have that restriction lifted so that the convicted person could drive legally.

When someone petitions for a form of post-conviction relief, the case must be considered fairly by a judge. The judge may determine that the person does not meet the standards for relief and deny the petition. In other cases, the judge may agree that the situation should be examined more closely and will provide mechanisms for doing so. This is partially up to the discretion of the judge and partially determined by law.

For people who have been convicted of a crime, it is advisable to discuss post-conviction relief options with an attorney. Being convicted is not the end of the legal process and although it can be disheartening, there may be additional legal avenues to pursue. If an attorney does not have extensive experience with this area of the law, he or she should be able to recommend another attorney who can provide assistance and more information. The bar association may also be able to refer people to lawyers practicing in the area who specialize in post-conviction relief.


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