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Despite what many people think, a plea or a conviction after a trial does not have to be the final word for those who have been convicted of a crime. Under California law, there are various routes to request that the court system take a second look at your case and alter the initial outcome. The law in this area can be complex and nuanced, so the help of a Berkeley post-conviction relief lawyer may be vital to your success. If you are interested in learning about your legal options, do not hesitate to speak with an experienced post-conviction relief defense attorney to secure an evaluation of your post-conviction relief options. En Español

The Importance of Pursuing Post-Conviction Relief

After receiving a guilty verdict, many people feel that the system failed them. Those who served their sentences, completed court ordered supervision, and repaid their debt to society often suffer the weight of a criminal record impinging upon their ability to secure employment, housing, loans, and certain professional licenses. If these people do nothing, their criminal records will follow them forever, showing up in any background check that seeks such information.

California law provides individuals with the recourse to file motions and other applications to reduce charges, modify sentences, vacate convictions, receive certification of rehabilitation or receive other relief. However, applicants must act quickly. Most forms of post-conviction relief have a timeframe for filing and specific procedures and eligibility requirements. Attorneys familiar with Berkeley post-conviction relief proceedings may help individuals determine the best plan for moving forward and increasing their chances of success.

What Legal Remedies are Available to Defendants in Berkeley?

Immediately after sentencing, defendants can file various pleadings to challenge the results and the imposed punishments. California law provides a separate set of options for those who complete their sentence to help them start anew.

Avenues Available After Conviction

Appealing a guilty verdict or other order of the court under California Penal Code § 1237 may be the most commonly known method for challenging a court decision. While appealing is a viable option in many situations, first, filing a Motion for a New Trial under Cal. Penal Code § 1181 may benefit some defendants.

If granted, a new trial gives the suspect another opportunity to have a second chance at a “not guilty” verdict.  A new trial also allows the accused the ability to introduce new evidence that was not reasonably available at the time of the first trial, which can be included in the record if an appeal is necessary. Without a new trial, the appellate court will decide the case based solely on the evidence presented during the first trial. Successful motions for a new trial tend to involve substantive errors made during the trial by the judge that significantly altered the outcome of the trial. If an individual experienced a trial where error occurred it is critical to move swiftly when pursuing relief by way of a motion for a new trial.

Other possible post conviction options include a Motion to Withdraw a Plea or Vacate (put aside) the judgment under Cal. Penal Code § 1018. This relief is based on the defendant’s lack of understanding of the deal they were accepting, coercion to accept the deal, being unrepresented or represented by an incompetent attorney, or a language barrier making it difficult to understanding the consequences.

Defendants may also request resentencing under Proposition 64 if the legislature downgraded the crime they committed from a felony to a misdemeanor or decriminalized it, as they did with specific marijuana offenses.

This is not an exhaustive list of post conviction relief options. There are several mechanisms for relief for incarcerated individuals as well such as Elder Parole, Writs of Habeas Corpus, Motions to Vacate and the list goes on.  A Berkeley post conviction relief lawyer can take the time to review an extensive list of potential remedies and determine which options are available for your particular situation.

Dealing with a Criminal Record After Completing a Sentence

Many individuals who have been convicted of a crime wish to start with a clean slate, but it can be tough to do so with a criminal record. Under the right circumstances, people who have served their sentences and completed probation may file motions to dismiss their records under Cal. Penal Code § 1203.4. This is called an “expungement” however in California the expungement process does not erase a criminal conviction rather it is actually a motion to dismiss and it results in dismissal of the conviction pursuant to Penal Code § 1203.4. This relief is not available to individuals who served their time in state prison or were convicted of specified offenses – such as many sex offenses involving minors.

In cases where the individual went to prison or sex crime cases requiring sex offender registration, most individuals may apply for a certificate of rehabilitation as allowed under Cal. Penal Code § 4852.01. This type of relief requires a significant amount of time proving rehabilitation and residency.  The applicant must reside for at least 5 years in the State of California after their release from parole and accumulate an additional two, four, or five years of a proven rehabilitation record to secure this relief. The court wants to see them for no less than seven years (depending on the crime) the individual has lived a moral and upright life in the community.  For those convicted of sex crimes the minimum rehabilitation time is 10 years and they must show that they are not an ongoing threat to minors. There are several offenses that are excluded from this relief – a Berkeley post conviction relief lawyer can take you through the criteria and help you determine if you are eligible.

Other relief available to individuals who completed their sentences might include:

  • Conviction dismissal after completion of a drug treatment program
  • Governor’s pardon
  • Early termination of probation
  • Vacature of offenses under Penal Codes 236.14, 1473.7, or 1016.5

By consulting a highly experienced post-conviction relief lawyer, individuals in Berkeley and throughout the state of California can position themselves to select the best course of action for their circumstances.

Discuss Post Conviction Relief with a Berkeley Attorney

Undoubtedly, a criminal conviction is scary and feels final. However, with the help of a seasoned Berkeley post-conviction relief lawyer, you may discover several avenues to either challenge your conviction or take steps to minimize the impact it has on your future. To start the evaluation process, please get in touch with our office today.

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