Understanding Post-Conviction Relief in Maryland
If you or someone you love was convicted of a crime, have been sentenced and have unsuccessfully appealed, or the time for appeal has expired, there are still steps which can be taken to have the case reexamined.
Post-conviction relief is often a complex and difficult undertaking but success can lead to reversal of a conviction, a new trial and a reduced sentence. Trust the team at Houlon Berman, who has practiced in the Rockville and Greenbelt areas for decades, to handle your post-conviction relief in Maryland.
Don’t wait to receive help with your post-conviction relief case, let the lawyers at Houlon & Berman help you navigate your options.
What is Post-Conviction Relief?
Post-conviction is a collateral attack at the underlying conviction through the claim that there has been some Constitutional violation not considered on Appeal or some other irregularity in the trial/plea process. Post-conviction can always be pursued upon conviction after trial and appeal and many times may be available after a guilty plea. The goal is to obtain a reversal of conviction, a new trial, or a reduced sentence.
Who Can File for Post-Conviction Relief and Under What Circumstances?
To be eligible to file for post-conviction relief in Maryland, an individual must have either pled guilty to or been convicted of a crime. He must also:
- Currently be serving a sentence
- Be on parole or probation as a result of a conviction
An individual must file for post-conviction relief within 10 years of his sentencing date if he was sentenced on or after October 1, 1995. Missing this deadline can cost you the opportunity to apply for post-conviction relief from a conviction.
There are a wide range of arguments and issues to be raised as bases for post-conviction relief. In general, these include errors and mistakes made by the attorneys which are not addressable on direct appeal. Specific grounds may include:
- Ineffective assistance of trial or appellate counsel
- Inadequate guilty plea proceedings
- Unlawful withholding of favorable evidence by the case prosecutor
- Newly discovered evidence
- Many others limited only by the creativity of your post-conviction counsel
If your attorney can prove that your case was influenced by any of the above circumstances, you could be eligible for one of several post-conviction relief remedies.
Steps of the Post-Conviction Relief Process in Maryland
If you believe you could be eligible for post-conviction relief, it’s essential that you hire a competent, experienced attorney who knows specifically how to handle post-convictions.
Each case is unique, but the general steps of the post-conviction relief process are as follows:
- Your attorney will re-investigate your case by examining transcripts, your previous lawyer’s files, discovery, and evidence that is related to the case and trial
- Your attorney then files a formal petition with the court that explains why you are seeking post-conviction relief
- A prosecutor will have the opportunity to respond to the petition
- The Court will hold an evidentiary hearing. In this hearing, evidence from the case will be presented, witnesses such as your trial lawyer and perhaps a qualified witness might be called to testify, and legal argument before the Judge will take place. There is no jury involved.
Having an experienced attorney makes all the difference in post-conviction cases. A knowledgeable attorney can effectively review case transcripts and records for errors, and recognize which errors are likely to prevail on a petition for post-conviction relief.
The right lawyer can also conduct thorough legal research to ensure that all pertinent information is presented at your hearing. Our attorneys have successfully handled post-conviction relief cases, ensuring that our clients receive the justice they deserve.
Potential Outcomes of Post-Conviction Relief in Maryland
There are several potential outcomes of post-conviction relief:
- A new trial
- A new sentence
- A reduced sentence
- Permission to file belated post-trial motions, such as a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct a sentence
Each of these outcomes have the potential to change your life. You could have the opportunity to have your case heard again or have your sentence altered.
Contact Houlon Berman
If you believe your case may be eligible for post-conviction relief in Maryland, call Houlon Berman’s attorneys today. Our knowledgeable team can navigate your case and work to get you the outcome you deserve. Don’t risk your freedom.