Post-Conviction Relief Lawyer
in Fort Myers
Are you eligible for relief after a conviction?
For those who have been convicted of a crime in Fort Meyers, relief may be available. Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 3.850 provides options for people who have been convicted or who have pled guilty to a criminal charge. These motions are available after the time for post-trail appeals has passed. If you or someone you know is interested in post-conviction relief, a Fort Myers criminal defense attorney can tell you more about your options.
What happens after conviction
No one wants to be convicted of a crime. Nevertheless, some defendants and their attorneys will need to think of the next steps to take after the trial court decides to convict. Next, the court sentences the defendant. At the sentencing stage, the defendant can file an appeal to challenge any errors made by the court or the prosecutors during the trial. If an appellate court denies the defendant relief through direct appeal, the court will confirm the conviction. Once the appellate court issues a mandate confirming the conviction, the defendant will be able to file a Rule 3.850 motion. Florida allows people who have been convicted of a crime two years from the date of the conviction or mandate to file a post-conviction motion.
Exceptions to the two-year rule
Florida courts recognize three exceptions to the two-year expiration date on Rule 3.850 motions. If a defendant and his or her attorney become aware after the two-year period of a new fact that affects the case, the motion will not be barred based on the time limit. A defendant may file a Rule 3.850 motion after the two-year period if an appellate court later makes a ruling on a fundamental constitutional right that can be applied to the case. If the defendant’s attorney negligently failed to file a Rule 3.850 motion within the two-year time period, the court may accept a filing outside of the two-year period.
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Reasons to file a Rule 3.850 Motion
A defendant can have his or her attorney file a Rule 3.850 motion at the trial court at which the defendant was sentenced. This type of motion directly challenges issues that may not have been evident in the court record. Common issues include:
- ineffective legal counsel
- the court’s judgment or sentence violated the state or federal constitution
- newly-discovered evidence
- DNA evidence casts doubt on the verdict
- the sentence imposed exceeded the maximum sentence allowed by law
There may be other reasons that entitle an individual to post-conviction relief. The best way to determine whether your case qualifies is to speak with a Fort Meyers post-conviction relief attorney.
Winning a Rule 3.850 Motion
Rule 3.850 motions can be very difficult to win. Nevertheless, if the defendant prevails, the court may set aside the previous sentence. However, the defendant will be in the same position he or she was in before he or she entered a plea or went to trial. The defendant may be able to negotiate a better plea agreement before the retrial, or he or she may go to trial again. On the other hand, the prosecution may refuse to offer a new plea agreement and instead opt to take the case to trial. The defendant may face stricter sentencing if the retrial results in a conviction. Prosecutors sometimes find that going to trial a second time can backfire. Depending on how much time has passed and the nature of the case, previous witnesses may be unavailable or difficult to locate to bring them back to court to testify. Fort Meyers post-conviction relief attorneys help defendants weigh the pros and cons of filing a Rule 3.850 motion.
Filing a claim due to ineffective counsel
Most post-conviction relief motions are filed on the basis of an ineffective or poorly-performing defense attorney. In some cases, the defendant’s lawyer may have been so poor or ineffective that it undermined the functioning of the trial process. In these instances, the court is unable to rely on the trial or the plea. In response, the court may grant relief based on a Rule 3.850 motion. A defendant may file a post-conviction relief motion based on any aspect of his or her attorney’s representation, including actions that took place outside of the courtroom.
Post-conviction relief for an involuntary plea
A court will grant a Rule 3.850 motion if the defendant can demonstrate that his or her previous plea was coerced. A plea may be considered involuntary or coerced if:
- someone threatened the defendant or his or her innocent family members and associates
- the defendant’s attorney convinced the defendant to take a plea deal based on a misrepresentation of the law
- the defendant was insane or under the influence of medication that affected his or her decision-making at the time of the plea
False testimony by a prosecutor
A defendant may prevail on a Rule 3.805 motion if the prosecutor knowingly introduces false witness testimony. The defense must show the prosecution had actual knowledge that the prosecution’s witness offered false or perjured testimony. The testimony must also be regarding a fact that is material to an issue the jury must decide. Proving the prosecution knew the testimony was false can be challenging. However, if the defense can prove the testimony was material, the defendant may be able to prevail on a claim of newly-discovered evidence.
Post-conviction relief in Fort Myers
If you or a loved one wants to know more about legal options following a criminal court conviction, you need the help of a seasoned defense lawyer. An experienced Florida defense lawyer who has the expertise to handle post-conviction motions will meticulously review your case. Prevailing in a 3.850 motion is a challenging process. However, working with a very thorough, knowledgeable defense lawyer will give you the greatest likelihood of being granted post-conviction relief. Our federal defense attorneys are well-versed in filing appeals and Rule 3.850 motions. We are dedicated to fighting for the rights of people at all stages in Florida’s criminal court process. Contact us today to receive a free case evaluation.