The State Post-Conviction Process. Where to Start:

Jan. 26, 2022

In previous entries, we examined the "direct appeal" process. However, losing one's direct appeal does not mean all hope for overturning a conviction, or reducing a lengthy sentence, is lost. Instead, a defendant's case can often be re-opened and the fight for justice can continue, in the post-conviction process. In this entry, we will summarize aspects of that process as it exists in the State courts of Arizona.

The State post-conviction process officially commences with the filing of a "notice" citing either Arizona Rule 32 (if the defendant lost a trial) or Arizona Rule 33 (if the defendant pleaded guilty but wants to back out of that plea). The time deadlines for the "notice" are, for a Rule 32 case: 90 days after sentencing, unless an appeal is first taken. If an appeal is timely pursued, then the deadline is delayed until 30 days after the "mandate" is issued which signifies the end of the appeal. In Rule 33 cases, the deadline is: 90 days after sentencing. Both Rules 32 and 33 have provisions for allowing late filing in cases where newly discovered evidence or legal arguments arise months or years after the expiration of the initial deadlines summarized in this paragraph.

After the "notice" is filed, there are deadlines under each Rule for when the supporting briefs asserting all post-conviction arguments must be filed. And, those deadlines for brief-filing can be extended upon timely request made to the judge assigned to the post-conviction case. The post-conviction brief is organized and written much like the brief that was filed in the appellate courts, except that in this brief, rather than argue that the judge or prosecutor made errors, the defendant now argues that his or her conviction or sentence attached because of errors or omissions by the defense lawyer, leaving the defendant with less than adequate representation.

Just how a lawyer goes about deciding what to include in a post-conviction motion will be addressed in our next entry. But if you would prefer not to wait, and wish to learn more about the process now, please call this office immediately.

Jonathan Laurans wants you to be educated as to what you may be facing. If you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime in Arizona, or in any federal court, contact him immediately. Visit his website at www.azpostconviction.com and then call him at (833) 421-5200 for a FREE initial legal consultation.