Arlington Post-Conviction Relief Attorney

Lawyers Helping Clients in Pursuing Post-Conviction Relief Options in Arlington, TX

For many who have been convicted of a crime, the finality of a sentence can feel overwhelming. However, the legal system provides mechanisms for those seeking to contest their convictions or the fairness of their trials. In Arlington, Texas, two primary forms of post-conviction relief are a direct appeal and a writ of habeas corpus. Understanding these avenues can empower those who are seeking justice, giving them a sense of control over their future. Hiring a criminal defense attorney with Bennett & Bennett is the first step you can take toward fighting for your freedom after being convicted of a crime.

Understanding a Direct Appeal

A direct appeal is the first step in challenging a conviction. Here is a breakdown of what it entails:

  • Purpose and scope - A direct appeal focuses on errors that occurred during the trial process. These errors could be in how the law was applied to the case, procedural mistakes, or issues with evidence that should not have been admitted during a trial. The appellate court reviews the trial's records but does not consider new evidence.
  • Process - After a conviction, the defendant, through their respective attorney, files a notice of appeal. The appellate attorney then submits a written brief outlining the legal arguments for why the conviction should be overturned. The prosecution then responds with their brief to counter these arguments. Oral arguments may also be presented before the appellate judges, who will then review the case and issue a decision.
  • Possible outcomes - The appellate court can uphold the conviction, reverse the conviction (which can lead to a new trial or acquittal), remand the case back to the lower court for further proceedings, or modify the sentence.

Understanding Writs of Habeas Corpus

Beyond a direct appeal, a convicted person can file a writ of habeas corpus. This legal tool has distinct characteristics:

  • Purpose and scope - Habeas corpus addresses issues beyond what was covered in the direct appeal, focusing on violations of constitutional rights that could include ineffective legal counsel, new evidence that has recently been discovered, or misconduct by the prosecution. Unlike direct appeals, habeas corpus petitions can introduce new evidence not presented at the original trial.
  • Process - The defendant, now referred to as the petitioner, files a writ of habeas corpus in a higher court, typically at the state's Court of Criminal Appeals. The petition will detail specific grievances and the legal basis for relief. During this process, the court may ask for a response from the state and determine if an evidentiary hearing is necessary to examine new facts or evidence. If a hearing is granted, it will allow both parties to present arguments, evidence, and witness testimonies supporting or opposing the petition.
  • Possible outcomes - If the writ is granted, the court may order a new trial, amend the sentence, or even release the petitioner. If denied, the petitioner's conviction and sentence will remain as they are, though they may have further appellate options at the federal level.

Critical Differences Between Direct Appeal and Habeas Corpus

Understanding the differences between these two forms of post-conviction relief is crucial for anyone navigating the legal system:

  • Timing and application - Direct appeals are usually filed immediately after conviction. In contrast, habeas corpus petitions can be filed at any time, even years later, depending on the emergence of new evidence or discovery of violations of a person's rights.
  • Scope of review - Direct appeals focus mainly on the trial court's record and procedural errors, whereas habeas corpus petitions allow for the introduction of new evidence and address broader constitutional issues.
  • Nature of proceedings - Direct appeals are more procedural, involving reviews of written records and briefs. Habeas corpus proceedings can be more evidentiary, involving new testimonies and supplementary evidence.
  • Different outcomes - Direct appeals may also lead to the reversal of a verdict or a retrial. On the other hand, habeas corpus petitions can lead to more drastic remedies, including the possibility of immediate release if the court finds significant violations.

Contact Our Arlington Post-Conviction Relief Attorneys

Both direct appeals and writs of habeas corpus are vital tools for correcting injustices and ensuring fair treatment under the law. To pursue such relief, call our office by calling 713-224-1747 to schedule a confidential consultation.

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