The American justice system is flawed, and many innocent people are wrongfully convicted. You may have been found guilty of a crime, but that doesn’t have to be the end of your case.
You may have options for post-conviction relief that result in a modified sentence. You may even get your conviction overturned.
What Is Post-Conviction Relief?
Post-conviction relief is a sentence reduction or overturning of a conviction after the conclusion of your trial. It may also happen after you plead guilty and sign a plea agreement.
Types of Post-Conviction Relief
Many types of post-conviction relief exist in New Mexico. Both state and federal courts allow you to seek sentence and conviction modification after the end of a trial.
Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence
If the sentence imposed by the court does not comply with the guidelines set by statutes, you can challenge that sentence with a motion to correct an illegal sentence. This may result in a modified sentence. If you have already served most of your sentence, you could get released for time served.
Motion to Correct a Sentence Imposed in an Illegal Manner
If the court orders you to serve time for a sentence imposed illegally, you may get relief through a post-conviction motion.
For example, if you are ordered to pay an excessive fine or not allowed parole without reason, you may be successful with a motion to correct a sentence imposed in an illegal manner.
Motion to Reduce a Sentence
Certain mitigating circumstances may be presented through a motion to reduce a sentence so you serve less time in jail. If the court did not indicate that it considered mitigating factors during sentencing, you may have a better chance of winning a motion to reduce a sentence.
Motion for Relief from Judgment
Clerical mistakes and other administrative errors can result in the imposition of an improper judgment or sentence. If your sentence does not seem correct, you may get help through a motion for relief from judgment.
Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus
You may file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus if you feel there are grounds for relief that have not yet been considered in your case. “Habeas corpus” comes from Latin and means “show me the body.”
When you file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, you are asking a court to order a government agency, law enforcement agency, or lower court to prove that they have reason to hold you in prison.
Grounds for Relief
There are many grounds for post-conviction relief, including the following:
- You received ineffective assistance of counsel
- The trial court made an error
- There was prosecutorial misconduct
- There was juror misconduct
- There was police or investigator misconduct
- There is new evidence that could not have been discovered previously
- You are actually innocent
Any violation of your state or federal constitutional rights may be used to argue that you deserve post-conviction relief of your sentence or conviction.
The Procedure for Obtaining Post-Conviction Relief
The procedure to obtain post-conviction relief depends on the type of relief you seek.
Deadlines for Post-Conviction Relief
New Mexico has no specific deadline within which post-conviction motions must be filed except in death sentence cases.
If you were sentenced to death in a capital case, you must apply for post-conviction relief within 180 days of the appointment of post-conviction counsel.
Federal petitions for writs of habeas corpus must be filed within one year of the finalization of the denial for review from the highest appellate court.
Process for Filing Motions and Petitions
Motions and petitions for post-conviction relief should be filed to the trial court. In your motion or petition, you must include your name, inmate number and location, case number, a summary of the facts, and all your arguments regarding why post-conviction relief is appropriate. In most cases, this will include a motion and a memorandum in support.
The court will likely schedule a hearing to allow you to discuss your arguments. It’s best to attend court with a post-conviction lawyer who can use the evidence to your benefit.
If the trial court denies that motion or petition, then you can appeal that decision to the next level, up to the New Mexico Supreme Court.
Contact a Post-Conviction Lawyer Today
Post-conviction relief is available to many people serving decades or even life in prison. You have an opportunity to reduce your sentence, get a new trial, or even get out of prison. By working with a post-conviction lawyer, you will understand your rights and get the best outcome possible.