Being convicted of a criminal offense in Riverside has consequences that can extend far beyond a potential jail or prison sentence, probation and costly fines. If you are found guilty of committing a crime, especially a serious or violent felony, you could face difficulties finding a job or housing in the future, and you could even face adverse immigration consequences. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize how dramatic the impact of such a serious event will be on their lives until they are actually convicted and sentenced, at which point they may feel like it’s too late to do anything about it. On the contrary, there are a number of post-conviction remedies available to those convicted of criminal offenses in Riverside and elsewhere in California, including direct appeal, commutation applications and habeas corpus. If you or someone you love has been convicted of a crime in Riverside, you need to act quickly to retain legal counsel or else risk missing the deadline for certain types of post-conviction relief. Contact Pat Ford Appeals today to find out how you can fight your conviction or sentence.
Experienced Criminal Appeals Lawyer Riverside
The purpose of the California criminal justice system is to investigate crimes and prosecute the offenders in a fair and just manner, but the system doesn’t always work the way it’s meant to. If you have been convicted of and sentenced for a crime in Riverside, there are many different reasons you could have for seeking post-conviction relief. For instance, your claim could be based on changes in the law, the development of new evidence that points towards your innocence, improper conduct by the judge, prosecution or jury, or ineffective assistance of counsel. By filing a petition for post-conviction relief, you are seeking some specific type of legal remedy from the court, usually a reversal of a criminal conviction, a release from prison or a modification of a prison sentence. At Pat Ford Appeals, we aggressively and competently represent clients on appeal and in post-conviction proceedings in Riverside and throughout Southern California, and we are prepared to put our three-plus decades of experience to work for you. Take advantage of our offer for a no-cost consultation and have Pat Ford review your case today.
Criminal Appeals Riverside
Even if you have been convicted of a criminal offense in Riverside, that doesn’t mean your life is over. At Pat Ford Appeals, we know that a criminal case doesn’t necessarily end with a conviction, and we have helped thousands of convicted defendants apply for post-conviction relief in Riverside and the surrounding areas. In criminal law, the term post-conviction relief refers to the wide range of legal remedies that may be available to an individual after a criminal trial results in his or her conviction. The following are some of the most common types of post-conviction relief in Riverside.
A convicted defendant who believes that he or she was wrongfully convicted of a misdemeanor or felony crime, or sentenced to a term of imprisonment that is excessive or overly punitive, can file a direct appeal, which is a petition to a higher court (an appellate court) to review the decision of the trial court. If the appeals court finds that legal errors were made during the trial that affected the jury’s decision or the sentence imposed by the judge, the appellate court may reverse the trial court’s ruling in whole or in part, or send the case back to the trial court for a new trial.
Writ of Habeas Corpus Petitions
Typically seen as a last resort for inmates who believe they are being unlawfully detained, subjected to prison conditions that are unconstitutional, or kept in prison for too long, habeas corpus is a type of post-conviction relief that is separate from the direct appeals process. There are state writ of habeas corpus petitions and federal writ of habeas corpus petitions and the goal of such a petition is for the court to issue an order requesting that the prison official holding the individual in custody bring the individual before the court in order for the court to determine whether the imprisonment is lawful.
If you are currently serving a sentence for a state crime and you believe you may be eligible for a reduced sentence based on your criminal history, the amount of time you have already served, your conduct since the offense or other factors, you can file a petition to have the governor of California commute your sentence. A commutation is a type of executive clemency that can reduce or eliminate an inmate’s sentence, or help an inmate get a parole hearing before he or she would otherwise be eligible for parole.
SB 1437 Petitions
When the California Legislature signed Senate Bill 1437 into law in 2018, it effectively repealed the state of California’s existing felony-murder law, which held that an accomplice to a felony crime that resulted in a victim’s death could be prosecuted for murder even if the killing was an accident and the defendant didn’t directly participate in the killing. Under SB 1437, felony-murder charges can only be brought against a defendant who, in committing or attempting to commit a felony crime, directly kills someone, induces, commands or assists the actual killer in committing first-degree murder, or is a major participant in the underlying felony and acts with “reckless indifference to human life,” or if the victim is a peace officer who is killed in the course of performing his or her duties. SB 1437 petition is also retroactive and provides defendants who were convicted and sentenced under California’s old felony-murder law with a means of vacating the conviction and being resentenced.
AB 2942 Petitions
Another new bill recently signed into law is Assembly Bill 2942, which makes it possible for district attorneys to reevaluate prior sentences and reduce the California prison population by recommending sentence reductions for individuals serving long prison sentences that are no longer in the interest of justice. Under AB 2942, prisoners who were sentenced under outdated guidelines, have been rehabilitated during their incarceration and believe they deserve a second chance at freedom can petition to have their sentence recalled and reduced.
Riverside Criminal Appeals Court
There are six district courts that handle appeals in California. Riverside criminal appeals are heard in the Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District, or the Fourth District Court of Appeal, which is divided into three geographical divisions:
- Division One is located in San Diego and hears appeals from the superior courts of Imperial and San Diego Counties
- Division Two is located in Riverside and hears appeals from the superior courts of Inyo, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties
- Division Three is located in Santa Ana and hears appeals from the superior court in Orange County
Grounds for Pursuing Post-Conviction Relief
During a Riverside criminal trial, errors of law or procedure are sometimes made that can affect the outcome of the trial in a negative way for the defendant, resulting in a guilty verdict or a punishment that exceeds the maximum penalty required by law. After a trial, new evidence may be discovered that proves the convicted defendant’s innocence, or there may be changes to the law that make it possible for a prisoner to have his or her conviction vacated or sentence reduced. If you have already been convicted of a crime in Riverside and you believe the conviction was wrongful or the sentence was unreasonable, criminal appeals attorney Pat Ford can help you determine the best course of action based on your specific circumstances. The following are some common grounds for fighting a criminal conviction or sentence in Riverside with an appeal or some other type of post-conviction petition:
- The jury returned the wrong verdict
- There wasn’t enough evidence to support a guilty verdict
- Your defense attorney provided ineffective assistance
- The jury was improperly instructed
- You were convicted under a law that is unconstitutional
- The court did not have jurisdiction over your case
- New evidence was discovered that points to your innocence
- The prosecution engaged in unlawful behavior during the trial
If you file a criminal appeal with the Fourth District Court of Appeal and the appeals court finds that a legal error was made during the pre-trial investigation, trial or sentencing hearing, and the error was such that it changed the outcome of your case, meaning the error was “prejudicial,” the appellate court can reverse the trial court’s ruling in whole or in part, or it can remand the case back to the superior court for a new trial.
What if My Direct Appeal is Unsuccessful?
If you file a direct appeal and you aren’t satisfied with the appellate court’s ruling, you can petition the Supreme Court of California to review your case. Keep in mind though, that the Supreme Court has no obligation to review the decisions of appellate courts and generally only grants review for a few specific reasons – either because the appellate court has published conflicting precedents and it becomes necessary for the Supreme Court to step in and deal with the discrepancy, or because the legal issues involved in a case are important enough that they require the attention of the highest court in California. If the Supreme Court of California reviews your case and you aren’t satisfied with the result, or if the Supreme Court denies review and there are issues in your case that have to do with federal law or the United States Constitution, you can file a petition for review by the Supreme Court of the United States. The timeline for filing a direct appeal in Riverside is only 30 days for a misdemeanor appeal and 60 days for a felony appeal, but if you miss the deadline, there may still be other options available to you for post-conviction relief.
Hiring a Riverside Criminal Appeals Attorney
Any individual convicted of a crime in violation of the law or his or her rights deserves the chance to fight the conviction by filing a direct appeal or post-conviction petition for relief. However, successfully challenging a criminal conviction or sentence is not easy. When pursuing criminal charges against a defendant in Riverside, the defendant’s freedom and future is on the line. Because of this fact, in order to get a conviction, the prosecutor is required to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard of proof in any criminal court in the United States. If the prosecutor proves a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt and the jury returns a guilty verdict, it would be extremely difficult for the defendant to then prove that the conviction was wrongful and get the conviction reversed on appeal or obtain some other type of post-conviction relief.
That being said, judges in criminal trials sometimes make mistakes, juries can return the wrong verdict, prosecutors can act unethically, and defense attorneys can fail to provide their clients with effective, competent legal representation, and all of these factors can make a criminal defendant eligible for appeal. Whatever the circumstances of your criminal case, if you believe you were wrongfully convicted or sentenced to a term of imprisonment that is unreasonably harsh, or if you have served a portion of a long sentence and you believe you may qualify for a reduced sentence or early release, don’t hesitate to consult an experienced Riverside criminal appeals attorney. At Pat Ford Appeals, we represent clients in all matters related to criminal appeals and post-conviction relief, and we will fight for your rights at every stage of the appeals process.
Contact Pat Ford Appeals for Legal Help
Filing a petition for post-conviction relief after enduring a criminal trial can be a long, stressful and difficult process, which is why you need an appellate lawyer in your corner who has experience handling Riverside criminal appeals and can guide you through the process of appealing your conviction or petitioning the court for some other type of remedy. When you hire Pat Ford Appeals, we will go over every detail of your criminal case, inform you of the options available to you under the law and ensure that you understand your chances of success with each option. It is our primary objective at Pat Ford Appeals to help you move on with your life as quickly as possible after a conviction, and we will devote our time and energy to getting the best possible result in your case. Consult Riverside criminal appeals attorney Pat Ford right away to find out how he can help.