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Post Conviction Relief -

       Post-conviction relief in California State court system can involve a variety of different steps and different choices. Some of these options are available to the trial attorney even before sentencing.

General Rule

       In California, the general rule is that a conviction dates to the entry of a guilty or "no contest" plea or to the date that the jury makes a finding of guilt. Sentencing generally occurs a period of time after the entry of the guilty plea (or "no contest") or even after the jury verdict. After the conviction and prior to sentencing, the initial option for the trial attorney is to consider a motion for new trial.

Motion for a New Trial

       The motion for new trial can be based on any basis set forth in Penal Code §1181, such as an error in the jury instructions or the verdict is contrary to the law of evidence. After the verdict, many times trial counsel will want to discuss the case with the jurors that served on the jury.

Discussions with the Jury

       The jurors have an absolute right to not discuss the case with anyone, including the parties or their representatives. Code of Civil Procedure §206 provides various restrictions on the ability to discuss a case with a juror after they have completed their jury service. Some times a discussion with a juror can reveal to the defense certain improprieties in the process that could lead to some forms of post-conviction relief, including but not limited to a motion for new trial.

Other Options after a Conviction

       Aside from the motion for new trial, there are other options that are available to a defendant and his counsel. Some other options that are available to a defendant are the following:

  • Appeal
  • Expungement of criminal record (felony or misdemeanor)
  • Probation termination
  • Record clearance
  • Reduction of offense from felony to misdemeanor (commonly referred to as a §17 reduction.

Your Attorney and the Case

       The propriety of each of these will depend on the specific facts and the actual setting of each case, as each case can be very different. It is crucial to talk to your attorney about which option is best suited to your case and when you want to elect the option. Timing can be very crucial in order to maximize the benefit of your post-conviction relief.

- Written by , Attorney at Law





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