I have discovered a subspecialty of criminal law that I enjoy: The Petition for Postconviction Relief.
When I worked at the District Attorney’s Office, I won every one of these I ever handled, with one exception, and the one I lost was one where I conceded because the inmate had been convicted of the same crime twice in violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause.
Now that I am a general practitioner, I handle these same petitions for inmates and defendants, and my success rate is in fact higher as a defense attorney than it was as a prosecutor. As a defense attorney, even though they say these are hard for the person convicted of a crime to win, I enjoy a 100% success rate.
My first experience on a Petition for Postconviction Relief as a defense attorney was for a client who had been wrongly informed of the range of punishment for her case.
The client in question had been told that her case was not governed by the Sentencing Standards. It was, and those standards recommended a shorter sentence than she was told applied to her case. Meanwhile, the Bill of Rights guarantees that a person has the absolute right to be correctly informed of the range of punishment on her case. This is the same sacred Bill of Rights that our Founding Fathers enshrined in the Constitution for us.
This client was in prison until we got her Postconviction Relief. Now, she’s free.
The more recent client is a legal—I stress legal–immigrant to the United States. This is the most admirable immigrant you could imagine.
He fled a crime-plagued, poverty-stricken country and came to our country legally. He owns a business, practices a skilled trade and worked hard to get a license to do so, is parenting stepchildren as if they were his own, and does volunteer work through his church. This person unquestionably is an asset to our country.
Meanwhile, this person got tricked into unknowingly carrying a package that he didn’t know contained marijuana. And got convicted of Drug Trafficking for it.
This person also was not informed of the consequences of his case. When he went to renew his visa, he learned that the conviction meant that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service was obligated to deport him. This, again, is the person who is a great asset to our country.
Because this person was not informed of the immigration consequences of his case, he is getting postconviction relief.
There are strict time limitations on filing these petitions. Some must be filed within two years after the conviction became final and some must be filed within one year. If you have a loved one in prison or a conviction on your record that you want off, it’s important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible.
Supposedly, the petition for postconviction relief is hard to win, but a person with a righteous petition and a lawyer who understands the rules can win.