A person’s rights to a fair trial and the assistance of legal counsel are essential aspects of the American justice system. So much so, the framers ensured these rights within the United States Constitution. Even after a person is charged and arrested, they are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Having faith in our justice system entails trusting that an innocent person will be found not guilty at the time of sentencing.
There are, however, cases in which the justice system fails. If you know that you are innocent of a crime but have been wrongly convicted, you will generally have an opportunity to appeal the conviction. If the appeal fails, you can file a petition for a Post-Conviction Relief (PCR) challenge.
The PCR process is arduous, complicated, and full of red tape. The necessary steps are usually far too complex for an individual to undertake on their own. A South Carolina Post-Conviction Relief attorney can help guide you through the process and advocate for you in court.
WHAT STEPS ARE INVOLVED IN A PCR CHALLENGE?
In South Carolina, a PCR challenge is only available to those who have already appealed the conviction in their case. After the direct denial of an appeal, they are then eligible to file for PCR as the defendant (applicant). For this reason, South Carolina courts tend to refer to PCR as the second step of an appeals process. The application is complex, and it is important to promptly file it with the court and serve it to the appropriate parties.
As an applicant, you must issue detailed arguments and evidence about why you deserve PCR. This can be particularly challenging if you are currently incarcerated, but an attorney who has experience with the PCR process may be able to assist in expediting it.
After the PCR application is submitted, the court may call a hearing in which the applicant’s attorney can argue for a new trial. As part of this hearing, the defendant’s counsel must demonstrate the grounds for the original trial resulting in a wrongful conviction.
WHAT ARE THE GROUNDS FOR A PCR CHALLENGE?
In general, Post-Conviction Relief issues are based on a claim of ineffective assistance from the counsel who defended you at the time of your conviction. This might mean that your trial attorneys were operating at a level that the state considers sub-standard or that their approach brought undue prejudice to your case.
An effective criminal defense attorney can help individuals who were wrongfully convicted under the following circumstances:
- Counsel failed to object to inadmissible evidence
- Arguments of the prosecution lacked credibility
- A judge gave improper instructions to the jury
- Counsel failed to object to a court trial error
- Subject matter jurisdiction was deficient
- Post-trial discovery of new evidence
- Prosecutorial misconduct
- Illegal or expired sentence
IS THERE A TIME LIMIT ON PETITIONING FOR A PCR CHALLENGE?
If you are considering challenging a wrongful conviction, time is of the essence. South Carolina delimits a one-year statute of limitations for Post-Conviction Relief. This means that you must submit your challenge within one year of receiving your conviction. If you miss this deadline, you will lose your right to petition for PCR. A criminal defense attorney who has experience handling Post-Conviction Relief matters can help ensure you file your case in a timely manner.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED COLUMBIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY TODAY
A wrongful conviction has consequences that go far beyond criminal penalties, such as jail time and fines. Having a conviction on your record can make it very challenging to secure a place to live, find employment, or enroll in higher education. Sometimes a wrongful conviction can even result in the loss of civil rights. It simply isn’t worth allowing a conviction to remain on your record if you are innocent of the crime.
Suppose you believe that your conviction occurred due to ineffective counsel or other prejudicial circumstances, and you are still within the one-year statute of limitations. If this is the case, you do not want to miss your opportunity to file for Post-Conviction Relief.
The Columbia criminal defense attorneys at Truslow & Truslow are here to help you file the application and ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. Contact us at (803) 256-6276 today for a free consultation. We will assess the particulars of your case and give you a straightforward assessment of what your PCR options are. Don’t wait to reach out. We’re ready to help.