California Post Conviction Relief Lawyer
A conviction in a California criminal court is never an easy thing to bear. Many people feel that the outcome was a miscarriage of justice or that they did not get a fair chance to plead their case. Others believe that although they were guilty of a crime, the conviction should not have a continuing impact on their lives.
These individuals have the option of seeking post-conviction relief. Post-conviction relief may be mandatory in some cases but remains discretionary in others. A California post-conviction relief lawyer could help to vacate a conviction or to obtain a certificate of rehabilitation. Reach out to a criminal defense attorney to begin building your case.
When Post-Conviction Relief is Mandatory Under the Law
The criminal justice system is undergoing significant changes in California. Among those changes is the reclassification of certain charges from felonies to misdemeanors and other steps intended to give people with convictions a fresh start on life.
Accordingly, a collection of propositions and penal code changes require courts to accept a person’s motion for post-conviction relief in California. A prominent example of this new dynamic is Proposition 47. This proposition reclassified many theft and drug cases from felonies to misdemeanors. By filing a mandatory relief motion, people currently serving time under the old laws can ask for a reduced sentence. Similarly, people who have already completed a sentence for a felony conviction can ask that the court amend their criminal record. A California post-conviction attorney could help individuals pursue these changes in their criminal records.
Other examples of mandatory post-conviction relief for which a California PCRA attorney may be able to help include:
- Expungements of a criminal record under California Penal Code §1203.4
- Clearing a criminal record after completing drug treatment diversionary program under CA Penal Code §1203.43
- Proposition 64 that decriminalizes the possession of marijuana and allows people with convictions for this former crime to expunge their criminal records
A Post Conviction Relief lawyer could help individuals determine if they qualify for mandatory post-conviction relief.
Many other types of post-conviction relief require a person to convince the court to make a change. The courts carry no obligation to act in these situations. According to CA Penal Code §1473.7, people who are no longer in criminal custody may file a motion to vacate a conviction or sentence if there is evidence that the defendant did not understand the immigration consequences of a guilty or no contest plea. In other cases, a post-conviction relief attorney could file a motion to vacate if newly discovered evidence has arisen that may cause a court to question the legitimacy of a conviction.
California has also taken significant strides to provide shelter to people who may face deportation as the result of a criminal conviction. CA Penal Code §1016.5 requires judges in criminal cases to advise defendants that a guilty plea may result in deportation if they are not a U.S. citizen. Additionally, the same statute allows individuals to petition a court for a vacated conviction if there is evidence that the defendant did not understand this concept upon entering a guilty or no-contest plea due to a faulty advisement of rights or one that was not given at all.
Finally, individuals with a felony or misdemeanor sex violation on their records who would not normally qualify for expungement due to state prison sentence or those who have had their felony or misdemeanor sex crime convictions expunged under Penal Code §1203.4 may ask a court for a certificate of rehabilitation. According to CA Penal Code §4852.01, these certificates will not change a person’s criminal record but can serve as court-sanctioned evidence that a person has improved their life for the purposes of seeking employment, housing, or ending the need to register as a sex offender. A California post-conviction relief lawyer could provide more information about the varying forms of discretionary post-conviction relief.
Obtaining post-conviction relief help can be a first step towards better prospects in life. In many cases, new developments in California law require courts to dismiss or seal a criminal record upon receiving a qualified petition. Other statutes give a court the discretion to evaluate whether a person is entitled to post-conviction relief. Obtaining these benefits can help prevent a deportation, dismiss a conviction, or even certify an individual as having been rehabilitated.
A Post-Conviction Relief attorney could help you evaluate your options for post-conviction help. They can work to gather a criminal record, investigate your rights under the law, and file the necessary paperwork to begin the process that is right for you. Contact a California post-conviction relief lawyer today to discuss your case.