When you are arrested for and convicted of a criminal offense, the incident becomes a part of your criminal record, which means it can continue to affect you for the rest of your life, long after you have served your sentence and paid your debt to society. Fortunately, there are a number of options for post-conviction relief that may be available to you depending on the circumstances of your conviction and sentencing. If you have been convicted of a crime in San Bernardino, it is important to be aware of your rights, most importantly your right to seek redress or a legal remedy from the court through the appeals process or by filing a post-conviction petition for relief. For more than 30 years, San Bernardino criminal appeals lawyer Pat Ford has helped clients successfully navigate the appeals and post-conviction process, and he is prepared to put his extensive experience and legal knowledge to work for you in your case. Contact Pat Ford Appeals as soon as possible after your conviction, to improve your chances of obtaining the post-conviction relief you believe you are entitled to receive.
Criminal Appeals Attorney San Bernardino
If you have been convicted of a crime in San Bernardino, you may feel like your life is over. A criminal conviction is a serious, life-altering event, and it is easy to feel hopeless about changing the outcome of your case, especially if you aren’t familiar with the laws in California regarding criminal appeals and post-conviction relief. At Pat Ford Appeals, we have represented thousands of clients on appeal and in post-conviction proceedings in San Bernardino and throughout Southern California, and we know that a criminal conviction doesn’t have to be the end of the road for you. When you hire our criminal appeals firm, we will get to work immediately scouring your trial record to determine whether any mistakes were made during the pre-trial investigation, trial or sentencing hearing that may make you eligible for appeal. If the timeline for filing an appeal has run out, we will explore all of the other options available to you for post-conviction relief and ensure that you understand the pros and cons of each option, so you can make the best decision for your specific situation. Keep in mind that there is a strict deadline for filing a criminal appeal in San Bernardino, so you will want to retain our services as soon as possible after your conviction, to avoid limiting your post-conviction options.
Criminal Appeals San Bernardino
Just because you have been convicted of a crime in San Bernardino does not mean your life is over. At Pat Ford Appeals, our lawyers have decades of experience representing clients in criminal appeals and petitions for post-conviction relief. In criminal law, the term “post-conviction relief” refers to the wide range of legal remedies available to an individual who has been found guilty at trial. Following a criminal conviction in San Bernardino, it is important to be aware of your options for post-conviction relief and to have a lawyer on your side who specializes in criminal appeals and post-conviction petitions who can help you determine which option gives you the best chance of success. The following are some common types of post-conviction relief in San Bernardino.
Misdemeanor and Felony Appeals
If you believe that you were wrongfully convicted of a crime in San Bernardino, or if the judge in your case handed down an unreasonably severe punishment that doesn’t fit the crime, you can petition a higher court to overturn or reverse the trial court’s ruling based on any prejudicial errors made by the court that may have resulted in the wrongful conviction or improper sentencing. This process is known as a criminal appeal. You will only have 30 days from the date of the trial court’s judgement if you are appealing a misdemeanor conviction, and 60 days if you are appealing a felony conviction, so don’t wait.
Writ of Habeas Corpus Petitions
A writ of habeas corpus is an order from the court requiring a prison official to physically bring a prisoner before the court to determine whether that prisoner’s detention is lawful. Any prisoner currently serving time in a California state prison can file a petition for a state writ of habeas corpus to challenge the imprisonment itself, the term of imprisonment or the conditions of imprisonment. The basis of a habeas corpus petition is a request for a specific remedy from the court, i.e. a release from imprisonment, relief from a sentence that is unconstitutional, or a change in the conditions under which the prisoner is serving his or her prison sentence, and this type of post-conviction petition is only available to those who have already tried and failed to overturn their conviction and/or sentence on appeal. If you are currently in custody for a state crime and your state writ of habeas corpus petition is unsuccessful, you may be able to file a federal writ of habeas corpus petition if your conviction or imprisonment is such that it violates federal law or the United States Constitution.
Another type of post-conviction petition for relief is a commutation of sentence, which is a form of executive clemency that can only be granted by the governor of California. If you have been convicted of a state crime in San Bernardino and you are currently serving a sentence in a county jail or state prison, you may be able to petition the governor to have your sentence commuted. A commutation is not the same thing as an appeal. It will not reverse your criminal conviction, nor will it change a finding of guilt, but it can reduce or eliminate your sentence, or make you immediately eligible for parole.
Senate Bill 1437 Petitions – Felony-Murder Law
California is known for its tough stance on crime and a prime example of this stance was the state’s prior felony-murder law, which allowed prosecutors to hold a defendant responsible for the deaths of victims that occurred during the course of a felony crime, even if the defendant didn’t actually participate in the killing. Fortunately, Senate Bill 1437, which went into effect in January 2019, amended the felony-murder law to eliminate its use in criminal cases where a codefendant with no intent to kill is charged with murder for a killing that occurred during the commission of another felony crime. Under the new law, in order to charge a defendant with murder, prosecutors must prove that the defendant acted with malice aforethought, unless the defendant was the actual killer, aided, abetted or assisted the actual killer in committing the murder, or was a major participant in the underlying felony crime and acted with “reckless indifference to human life.” Under SB 1437, murder charges can also be brought if the victim was a peace officer who was killed while performing his or her duties.
Assembly Bill 2942 Petitions – Recall of Sentencing
Another form of legal recourse for prisoners serving excessive sentences is Assembly Bill 2942, which went into effect in January 2019. This law gives district attorneys the power to recall the sentence of a defendant serving a lengthy sentence in county jail or state prison and resentence the defendant to a lesser sentence. Many inmates in California were sentenced under outdated guidelines and are currently serving overly punitive sentences that are no longer in the interest of justice, and AB 2942 petition can change that.
San Bernardino Criminal Appeals Court
California has six district courts that handle criminal appeals and appeals from San Bernardino are heard in the Fourth District Court of Appeal, which is divided into three geographical divisions. Division One is located in San Diego and that court hears appeals from Imperial and San Diego Counties. Division Two is located in Riverside and that court hears appeals from Inyo, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. Division Three is located in Santa Ana and that court hears appeals from Orange County. When you appeal a criminal conviction or sentence in San Bernardino, you are asking a higher court (an appellate court) to reverse the judgment of a lower court (the trial court, or superior court). During an appeal, the appellate court will review the trial record from your case and determine whether any legal errors were made by the court that were prejudicial, meaning they affected the outcome of your case.
What if My Appeal is Unsuccessful?
If you file an appeal with the Fourth District Court of Appeal and you aren’t satisfied with the appellate court’s decision, you can petition the Supreme Court of California to review your case. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the state, and it has no obligation to review the decisions of the appellate court, which is why you want your felony or misdemeanor appeal to be as strong and convincing as possible the first time around. If you request a review by the Supreme Court of California, the court’s decision will most likely be the end of the appellate review process, whether the court denies review or grants review and issues a ruling. However, if your case involves matters having to do with federal law or the United States Constitution, you may be able to petition the Supreme Court of the United States to hear your case. Whatever the circumstances of your case, you will want a knowledgeable San Bernardino criminal appeals attorney handling your appeal, to improve your chances of securing a favorable outcome. Depending on your specific situation, that may mean a reversal of your criminal conviction, a modification of your sentence or a new trial.
Grounds for Pursuing Post-Conviction Relief
There are a number of grounds on which you can file a criminal appeal or a petition for post-conviction relief, including the following:
- Ineffective assistance of counsel
- Evidence was improperly admitted or excluded by the judge
- Jurors were improperly instructed by the judge
- Your constitutional rights were violated by the police
- Insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict
- The sentence imposed by the court is excessive and not supported by the law
- The prosecutor referred to inadmissible evidence in front of the jury
- The court did not have jurisdiction over your case
- New evidence has been discovered that points to your innocence
Criminal Appeals Lawyer San Bernardino
California has long been in favor of aggressively prosecuting criminal offenses and implementing harsh sentencing laws for convicted offenders, which over the years, has led to the overcrowding of California prisons and to conditions of imprisonment that have been deemed to be unconstitutional. Because of this unwavering, tough-on-crime approach, it isn’t easy to overturn a criminal conviction on appeal or get a petition for post-conviction relief granted, but that doesn’t mean you should give up hope and accept your criminal conviction or sentence. At Pat Ford Appeals, we are committed to representing our clients’ best interests throughout the appeals and post-conviction process, and we will never stop fighting for your rights, no matter how complicated your case may be. Pat Ford has experience handling some of the toughest criminal cases and he will stand by your side every step of the way, helping you get the best outcome possible based on the facts of your case.
Contact Pat Ford Appeals for Legal Help
In all criminal prosecutions, there are important protections established by the California Constitution and the United States Constitution that safeguard the rights of the criminally accused and convicted, and just because you have been found guilty of a crime in San Bernardino doesn’t mean you forfeit these rights. If you believe you have been wrongfully convicted of a crime that you didn’t commit due to an unfair outcome at trial, sentenced to an overly punitive term of imprisonment that is disproportionate based on the severity of your crime, or unlawfully imprisoned in violation of your rights, or if you have been the victim of some other wrongful government action in San Bernardino, you have several options for relief under California law. For more information about San Bernardino criminal appeals and petitions for post-conviction relief, contact Pat Ford Appeals today. We offer prospective clients a free consultation, which means you can have knowledgeable San Bernardino criminal appeals attorney Pat Ford review your case at no cost to you.