Being convicted of a crime is a life-changing experience. However, if you believe that your criminal conviction was the result of a legal error or violation of your constitutional rights, the law allows you to challenge the conviction. In addition to appeals, which are one of the most common ways to challenge a criminal conviction, the state of Illinois also allows for post-conviction relief and collateral remedies via the Post-Conviction Hearing Act.
There are many types of post-conviction relief remedies. For example, if new evidence pertinent to a convicted person’s innocence is discovered, the person may be granted a new trial.
As found in the Post-Conviction Hearing Act, a defendant may file a petition for post-conviction relief when he is presently imprisoned. In order to seek post-conviction relief, a defendant must prove that their state or federal constitutional rights were breached (in the event of a death penalty sentence, the defendant may file a petition for post-conviction relief if new evidence has been discovered).
It is very important to note that a post-conviction petition is filed to challenge a conviction based on constitutional breaches that were not and could not have been brought up during direct appeal. The exception to this rule is in the case that the breach was not brought up due to the ineffective assistance of counsel, or because the information relative to the claim does not appear on the appellate record. In addition, an exception to the rule may be made when “fundamental fairness” allows the petitioner to seek post-conviction relief.
In order to file a petition for post-conviction relief, you must:
In addition to meeting timelines, you must satisfy the “fundamental miscarriage of justice” test, or satisfy the criteria for proving “cause and prejudice.” After this, which in itself can be very difficult to do, the petition will be reviewed, and if the petition is not dismissed, an evidentiary hearing will be held.
At the Law Offices of Jonathan Minkus, we understand the effect that a criminal conviction can have. If you believe that new evidence essential to your case has been discovered, or if you believe that your constitutional rights during the criminal process were violated, do not hesitate to contact us. You can reach our lawyers for your free consultation by calling us directly, or sending us a message online. If you are currently incarcerated, we will gladly travel to meet you and speak in person.
Senior Partner Jonathan Minkus has successfully defended individuals charged with every conceivable criminal offense, from traffic misdemeanors to death-penalty eligible homicides.