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Preparing A Post-Conviction Case in Virginia

Sept. 1, 2021

What Is Post-conviction?

Post-conviction is the process that follows a criminal trial and conviction. In includes direct appeals and collateral appeals like Habeas Corpus and Writs of Actual Innocence.

Post-conviction avenues

The most common avenues for pursuing post-conviction relief are a Writ of Habeas Corpus (state and federal) and the Writ of Actual Innocence (state). These legal proceedings, which go through the judicial system, are governed by strict procedures and deadlines. Most post-conviction appeals brought by prisoners without an attorney are unsuccessful because of a lack of understanding as to what is required. It is of the utmost importance to get it right the first time. In most cases, there is only one chance to get it right. Even with an attorney, it is very difficult to prevail on a post-conviction appeal. However, an attorney will at least have a correct understanding of the basic requirements that will allow your appeal to be decided on the merits.

A less consequential and common non-judicial post conviction avenue is seeking an Absolute Pardon or a Conditional Pardon from the Governor of Virginia. The Governor has the sole authority to pardon a prisoner’s conviction or commute a prisoner’s sentence.

What goes into filing a post-conviction application?

There is a lot of work and effort that goes into seeking post-conviction relief. There are also strict deadlines to meet in order to file the appeal or follow through with the process once it is filed. Depending on the nature of the case, it can also be very expensive if you must hire an attorney since there is no right to the assistance of counsel in preparing the application.

The effort of seeking post-conviction relief includes:

  • Obtaining the entire casefile, including the transcripts

  • Investigating the case to discover which issues can be raised

  • Researching the legal issues involved in the case

  • Contacting witnesses and obtaining affidavits from witnesses

  • Drafting the appeal

  • Filing the appeal

  • Putting together needed legal briefs and responses

  • Presenting evidence and witnesses at any evidentiary hearings

  • Appealing adverse decisions

In most situations, it is extremely difficult for a convicted person sitting in jail or prison to do any of these things. This is especially true if the prisoner is not skilled in the basic knowledge of what specific laws, rules, and legal standards entail each post-conviction applications. Obtaining the casefile and gathering the necessary evidence, if any, is a task in itself in most cases.

Virginia Post-Conviction Lawyer

A skilled, affordable attorney can make the process much effective and increase your chances of a good outcome. Such an attorney can make sure you get the best outcome in your case. Bryan J. Jones is committed to his clients and will develop a post-conviction strategy tailored just for you.