Any time you are convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced in Orange County, the incident becomes a part of your permanent criminal record, which can follow you for years to come and impact virtually every aspect of your life. Even after you have served your time in jail or prison and paid the necessary fines, your criminal conviction can continue to adversely affect your ability to obtain employment and professional licensing and can even have negative immigration consequences. Fortunately, California law provides a wide range of options for convicted defendants to pursue post-conviction relief, which can reduce or eliminate the lasting consequences of an Orange County criminal conviction. If you have been convicted of a crime in Orange County, and you believe the conviction itself or the sentence imposed by the judge was in violation of the law or your constitutional rights, you may have grounds to appeal the conviction and/or sentence or pursue some other form of post-conviction relief. Contact Pat Ford Appeals today to find out how we can help with your criminal appeal.
Criminal Appeals Attorney Orange County
When it works the way it’s meant to, the purpose of the criminal justice system is to deliver justice to those who have committed crimes and rehabilitate offenders, and throughout each stage of the criminal justice process, there are constitutional protections in place to safeguard the rights of the accused and the convicted. Unfortunately, errors are sometimes made during the process of investigating and prosecuting criminal offenses and as a result of such errors, defendants’ rights can be violated, and they can even end up being convicted of and sentenced to prison for a crime they didn’t commit. A criminal conviction is a terrifying, life-changing event, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the road for you. We know that better than anyone and we are committed to fighting for your rights and representing your best interests throughout the appeals and post-conviction process.
Every criminal case in Orange County is different, with unique circumstances that can affect the outcome of the pre-trial investigation, trial, sentencing hearing and post-conviction process, and that is why Pat Ford Appeals offers a no-cost consultation, so you can have our legal team review your case to determine the best legal avenue for pursuing the post-conviction relief you deserve. We understand how devastating a guilty verdict or a lengthy prison sentence can be for you and your loved ones, and we will do everything in our power to help you get the best possible result in your case, whether that means a new trial, a reduced sentence or a reversal of your criminal conviction. The sooner you hire our firm, the sooner we can get to work on your Orange County criminal appeal, so don’t wait.
Criminal Appeals Orange County
California is famous for the harsh penalties imposed upon criminal offenders in the state, and if you are found guilty of a crime in Orange County, you could face a lengthy prison sentence, possibly even a life sentence or the death penalty, depending on the circumstances of your case. But even if you find yourself in this position, that doesn’t mean you should lose hope. Under California law, any person who has been wrongfully convicted of or improperly sentenced for a state crime has the right to file a post-conviction petition for relief. In criminal law, post-conviction relief is a general legal term that refers to the process of seeking some specific remedy from the court, such as a release from imprisonment, modification of a sentence, or a new trial. The following are some common types of post-conviction relief in Orange County.
If you were recently convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense in Orange County, you can appeal the conviction and/or sentence, which involves petitioning an appellate court to reverse the trial court’s judgment based on errors made during the pre-trial investigation, trial or sentencing hearing. There is a strict deadline for Orange County criminal appeals – 30 days post-conviction for misdemeanor offenses and 60 days for felony offenses – so it is important that you seek legal counsel and begin the appeals process as quickly as possible after a conviction.
If you believe you are being unlawfully detained in Orange County and the timeline for an appeal has run out, you have the right to file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which is a court order requiring the prison official holding you in custody to bring you before the court and show that your incarceration is lawful. A writ of habeas corpus petition is a powerful legal remedy available to those who wish to challenge their imprisonment on the basis of a legal or factual error that was made by the court and resulted in their imprisonment.
A commutation is a type of post-conviction relief that can only be granted by the governor of California. Any person convicted of a crime in Orange County, with certain exceptions, can file a commutation application to have their sentence reduced or eliminated. The Board of Parole Hearings investigates commutation applications and then issues its recommendation to the governor. The governor has absolute authority in deciding whether to commute a prisoner’s sentence or even review an application for commutation.
SB 1437 Petitions
Senate Bill 1437, which was passed in 2018, amended California’s existing felony-murder law, under which an accomplice to a felony crime that resulted in a victim’s death could previously be held responsible for the killing even if he or she had no intent to kill and/or didn’t directly participate in the killing. The new law narrows the circumstances under which a codefendant can be prosecuted for a killing that occurs during the commission of another felony crime and also provides a means of vacating the conviction and resentencing defendants who were convicted of murder under the old felony-murder law. As a result of this significant change to the law, hundreds of prisoners serving time for felony murder may be eligible for resentencing.
AB 2942 Petitions
Assembly Bill 2942 is another new law that can potentially be used to the benefit of inmates currently serving time for an Orange County criminal conviction. Under AB 2942 “Criminal procedure: recall of sentencing,” district attorneys can revisit old cases and recommend a reduced sentence for defendants serving a long sentence that is no longer “in the interest of justice.” As the bill states, “[…] the purpose of sentencing is public safety achieved through punishment, rehabilitation, and restorative justice. When a sentence includes incarceration, this purpose is best served by terms that are proportionate to the seriousness of the offense with provision for uniformity in the sentences of offenders committing the same offense under similar circumstances.” Unfortunately, many inmates in California are serving excessive or overly punitive sentences that were imposed under outdated guidelines, which has led to severe overcrowding in California prisons. AB 2942 petition is the first bill that gives prosecutors the power to change that and recall the sentences of inmates who are serving a lengthy prison sentence but have been rehabilitated during their incarceration and are ready for release.
Orange County Court of Criminal Appeals
The state of California has six district courts that handle appeals and Orange County criminal appeals are heard in the Fourth District Court of Appeal. This court is unique in that it is separated into three geographical divisions, which handle appeals as follows:
- 4th Appellate District Division One is located in San Diego and has jurisdiction over appeals from Imperial and San Diego Counties.
- 4th Appellate District Division Two is located in Riverside and has jurisdiction over appeals from Inyo, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
- 4th Appellate District Division Three is located in Santa Ana and has jurisdiction over appeals from Orange County.
What is the Responsibility of the Appellate Court?
When you appeal a criminal conviction or sentence in Orange County, you are asking a higher court (an appellate court) to review the decision of the trial court to determine whether any errors were made by the court in conducting the trial. If an error was made during trial, the appellate court must decide whether the error was harmless, meaning the verdict would have been the same without the error, or if the error was prejudicial, meaning it had a significant impact on the outcome of the trial. If the appellate court determines that a prejudicial error occurred and the defendant was convicted or improperly sentenced as a result, it will either overturn the conviction or remand the case back to the trial court for a new trial.
Errors happen all the time during a criminal trial, and if a prejudicial error occurred in the course of your trial, you may have grounds for appeal. If you appeal your case to the Fourth District Court of Appeal and you aren’t satisfied with the appellate court’s ruling, you can petition the Supreme Court of California to review your case. In most cases, the appeals process ends with the Supreme Court’s decision. However, if your case involves a question dealing with federal law or the United States Constitution, you may be able to petition the Supreme Court of the United States to review your case. The Supreme Court of the United States only hears a small fraction of the appeals that are made to it and does not have to provide a reason for denying a petition for review.
Reasons for Pursuing Post-Conviction Relief
Successfully overturning an Orange County criminal conviction on appeal or obtaining post-conviction relief in the form of a new trial, a release from prison or a reduced sentence isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. There are a number of grounds on which you can appeal a conviction in Orange County or pursue some other legal remedy from the court, including the following:
- Improper admission or exclusion of evidence
- Insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict
- Improper instructions given to the jury
- The court did not have jurisdiction over the case
- Improper communication between the jury and counsel
- Ineffective assistance of counsel
- Prosecutorial misconduct
- Jury misconduct
- Sentencing errors
Hiring a Criminal Appeals Lawyer in Orange County
Now that you know what options for post-conviction relief may be available to you and the grounds on which you can appeal or file a petition for relief, you need to know which type of petition gives you the best chance of success, which is where we come in. Criminal appeals attorney Pat Ford has more than 30 years of experience representing clients on appeal and in post-conviction proceedings in Orange County and throughout Southern California, and he can ensure that you understand the options available to you under the law so you can choose the best option for your specific case. When you hire Pat Ford Appeals, we will pore over your trial record to identify any errors of law or procedure and consider other factual matters, such as new or previously undiscovered evidence, to present your case in the best possible light and improve your chances of overturning your conviction on appeal or having your post-conviction petition granted.
Consult Pat Ford Appeals Today
California is notorious for taking a tough stance on crime and criminal offenses in Orange County are aggressively prosecuted and punished, which has resulted in defendants being wrongfully convicted of crimes they didn’t commit and/or sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment that are disproportionate to the severity of their crimes. If you believe you have been the victim of an unjust outcome in your criminal case due to prejudicial errors made by the court or some other damaging government action, contact Orange County criminal appeals attorney Pat Ford to explore your legal options. Pat Ford’s practice is located in San Diego, but he has successfully represented clients in criminal appeals and post-conviction proceedings in Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino County, Fresno, the Sacramento Metro Area and the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information about the criminal appeals process in Orange County, or to schedule a free initial consultation with Pat Ford, contact Pat Ford Appeals today.