What Is Post-Conviction Relief in Arizona?

Relief for the Wrongly Convicted

If you were wrongly convicted or sentenced for a crime in Arizona, you could be entitled to post-conviction relief. Also referred to as Rule 32 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, post-conviction relief is the only option for review for individuals that have been convicted by way of a plea agreement. It is also the one way for convicted individuals to claim ineffective counsel against an attorney who has represented them in a plea, trial, or appeal.

Post-conviction appeals and pleadings are available to defendants who have not pled guilty or admitted to a probation violation. To appeal, a defendant must file a notice of appeal within 20 days of receiving a judgment or sentence. The defendant must also file a petition for post-conviction relief, which is then heard by a trial court. Arizona Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals review these rulings made on appeals.

Learn more about post-conviction relief in Arizona and why it’s important to hire an attorney. Call JacksonWhite today at (480) 467-4370 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

The Right to an Appeal

In Arizona, the right to appeal is a statutory right and a constitutional right. Two statutes, one for the defendant and one for the state, list the types of orders that can be legally appealed. A defendant does not have the right to appeal if the order that an attorney is trying to appeal is not listed in the statute. In addition, defendants who plead guilty in non-capital cases do not have the right to appeal.

A defendant in Arizona can request post-conviction relief by asking the court to vacate or modify a judgment, alter a conviction, or reduce or modify a sentence. Rule 32 or Rule 33 may apply depending on the situation:

  • Defendants who have been convicted and sentenced following a trial or contested probation violation hearing will adhere to the Rule 32 process.
  • Defendants who have pled no contest or guilty to a criminal offense, who have an automatic probation violation due to a plea of no contest or guilty, or who has admitted a probation violation, will adhere to the Rule 33 process.

Requesting Post-Conviction Relief

The process of requesting post-conviction relief in Arizona starts when a defendant files a Notice Requesting Post-Conviction Relief, otherwise known as Form No. AOCCR41FORM24B. The notice must be filed by the defendant in the trial court that imposed the initial judgment or sentence.

A Notice Requesting Post-Conviction Relief will include personal information about the defendant, as well as details about the defendant’s conviction and sentence. It will also include the procedural history of the defendant’s case and the grounds for all claims for relief under Rules 32 or 33.

Once a Notice has been filed, a defendant must then file a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, or Form No. AOCCR41FORM25. This Petition will include information that supports the grounds for post-conviction relief. Details can be confirmed using court records, affidavits, transcripts of testimony, and other documents.

Due to the complexity of the post-conviction relief process in Arizona, it is often recommended that defendants obtain legal assistance and guidance from an experienced criminal defense attorney. An experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney can help defendants through each step of the post-conviction process.

It is important to remember to adhere to all deadlines when requesting post-conviction relief in Arizona. There are specified time limits in Rule 32 and Rule 33. Failure to file a Notice or a Petition within these specified time limits may result in the denial of post-conviction relief.

Types of Post-Conviction Relief Claims

There are certain types of post-conviction relief claims that a defendant can raise under Rule 32 or Rule 33, including the following:

1. Changes in State or Federal Law

Changes in state or federal law could potentially impact how a post-conviction relief case is handled. In rare instances, a significant change in law could apply to certain cases, resulting in the conviction or sentence getting overturned. However, a defendant can only get relief if the new law can be retroactively applied to the case, meaning that the law can apply to past events.

2. Illegal Sentencing

A defendant can also file a post-conviction relief claim that the sentence he or she received was not authorized by law or a plea agreement. An Arizona criminal defense attorney can help you determine if the conviction or sentence that you received was authorized by Arizona law at the time the crime was committed.

3. New Evidence

Another common type of post-conviction relief claim relates to the introduction of new evidence in the case. If new evidence is discovered that is likely to have impacted the outcome of the case or sentence, this new evidence can be brought forward. However, a defendant can only bring forth new evidence if the evidence was found only after the trial or sentencing and the evidence existed at the time of the trial.

4. Ineffective Assistance of Legal Counsel

One of the most common types of post-conviction relief claims deals with ineffective assistance of legal counsel. This type of claim can be brought against the attorney who represented the defendant during the trial, sentencing, plea negotiations, or direct appeal. The Arizona Constitution and the U.S. Constitution provide defendants the right

to assistance of counsel. That means that if a defendant receives inadequate legal counsel, then the conviction or sentence may be in violation of these constitutions.

Speak with an Arizona Post-Conviction Relief Attorney

If you or a loved one has been convicted of a criminal offense, it is important to determine where you stand and if post-conviction relief is a viable course of action. An experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney can provide you with legal advice regarding your unique case and help you determine if post-conviction relief is an appropriate option for you or your loved one.

At JacksonWhite Attorneys at Law, we’ve helped countless individuals successfully obtain post-conviction relief in Arizona. To learn more about our criminal defense services or for assistance with your case, contact our Arizona criminal defense team at (480) 467-4370 for a free consultation.

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