No justice system is perfect. No matter how trial court judges do their best to stay impartial and to consider all laws for particular cases, it is human nature to have some type of biases towards learned values. It cannot be denied that there are times wherein innocent people are convicted based on strong evidence presented by the prosecution. For a defendant accused of a criminal or civil offense that he or she has not committed, being convicted for a case by mistake can be a gruesome experience. But even after a decision has been made by the court, the party of the defendant may still challenge the ruling to either reduce the number of years to be served in prison or completely overturn the decision by proving his or her innocence. This is called a Post Conviction Relief.
Depending on the state with the jurisdiction, Post Conviction Relief may be offered to the side of the accused to challenge the court decision. However, the scope of the relief and the timeliness at which it could be filed may vary from one state to another. Majority of the states do not permit post-conviction proceedings after five years from the date of conviction. The following proceedings may be allowed depending on the local laws and regulations: right to an appeal, criminal retrial, clemency, habeas corpus, commutation, expungement of record sealing, and pardon.
Whichever post-conviction services you may need, hiring a capable lawyer for PCRA (Post-Conviction Relief Act) can help you gain an advantage during the proceedings. Learn more about the four things that you should look for in a PCRA lawyer in the article below.
Good Track Record
Doing a background check is always a must when looking for the best PCRA lawyer to hire for your case. Take note that post-conviction is different from regular court proceedings so it would be best if you hire a lawyer with extensive experience in this field. Verify their licenses through bar association websites and watch out for previous complaints on malpractice and misconduct.
A clear free structure is a sign of the lawyer’s honesty and strong commitment to work on your case. But it should be your duty to ask your lawyer regarding the fee structure. While most layers offer a fixed flat fee, others prefer to be paid on an hourly basis. Also check if there are other items that you need to pay on top of the professional fee such as court filing fees and documentation. Remember that the price is normally higher for more complex cases and if your lawyer has more experience in handling similar situations in the past.
Your lawyer should commit to work according to your needs and availability. Quick email responses, regular phone calls, and timely submission of requirements are all signs of a cooperative PCRA lawyer. Otherwise, he or she may be too busy to work on your case and it may be time for you to look for a new one.
Comfortable to Work With
Get a lawyer that you find comfortable to work with and trustworthy to handle all sensitive information in the case. If you find it difficult to provide him or her complete and honest information, you may need to reconsider other options already.