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Lexington Appeals & Post-Conviction Relief Attorney

Appealing a Conviction with the Lexington Criminal Lawyer

Even after a conviction or a guilty plea, a defendant still has the right to have their case reviewed for legal errors and constitutional violations. James Snell is able to provide criminal appeal and post-conviction relief (PCR) services to those whose cases were originally tried by other lawyers.

A thorough review of the case and original court record, combined with up-to-date legal research is, however, always appropriate for those who have received serious and substantial sentences. In some instances, a defendant may be allowed to remain free pending the outcome of their criminal appeal through obtainment of an appeal bond. The Lexington criminal defense lawyers at the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC provide a free case evaluation to defendants and their families who are considering a criminal appeal or post-conviction relief proceeding.

If your loved one has been sentenced or currently serving time, schedule your free consultation with a Lexington appeals and post-conviction relief attorney by calling (803) 359-3301 today.

What are Criminal Appeals?

Filing an appeal is a process whereby a defendant asks a higher court to review their case and look for legal errors. Defendants who were convicted at the municipal or magistrate court level appeal directly to the court of common pleas. We represent clients in appealing DUI convictions and in appealing CDV convictions. Defendants who were convicted for non-capital offenses in general sessions appeal their cases to the South Carolina Court of Appeals.

To request an appeal a defendant must timely file a notice of intent to appeal within ten days of their sentencing. If this deadline is missed, it may mean that the defendant has lost his right to an appeal. After the notice of intent to appeal is filed a copy of the trial transcript from the court reporter is ordered. When it arrives, our team reviews the record for obvious and subtle errors of law that may have caused or increased the probability of the conviction. After a review of our findings, along with up-to-date legal research, we file a legal brief making those arguments with the court. It can take up to two years or more for a General Sessions appeal to be decided.

While defendants do have a right to appeal both a trial conviction and a guilty plea, the appellate courts can only consider guilty plea appeals if there is an allegation made of a specific legal error committed by the court. Appeals are generally not the appropriate venue to raise objections to the length of the sentence.

Appeal vs. Motion to Reconsider

If we are retained immediately after sentencing it can be possible to file a motion to reconsider, grant a new trial, or vacate a guilty plea. This can be an effective strategy for a missed court date, or to try to establish some court record or basis to justify an appeal. There is a 10-day period to file these types of motions. An appeal can still be filed 10 days after a decision on a timely filed motion.

What is a Post-Conviction Relief?

Post-Conviction Relief, or PCR, is a petition filed after the criminal appeal has concluded. Most port-conviction relief filings claim that the defendant’s conviction is unconstitutional because of ineffective assistance of counsel, although there are other possible grounds.

Ineffective assistance grounds can include things such as:

  • Incorrect advice about the law or possible sentence
  • Not utilizing an investigator or a proper expert witness
  • Failure to spend enough time with a defendant
  • Failure to obtain discovery, or review it with the defendant
  • Having an undisclosed conflict of interest

To request post-conviction relief, it is necessary to do so within one year of the conclusion of the criminal appeal. An appellate attorney from our firm will review the record looking for all obvious and subtle errors or omissions that occurred. Many PCR filings can benefit from hiring a private investigator to look for evidence or witnesses first missed, or experts to help review evidence and offer testimony originally omitted.

It generally takes one year or more for a post-conviction relief proceeding to be ruled on. As part of the process, the court will schedule a hearing in which the defendant will be able to testify and explain the exact shortcomings in their case or prior representation.

Defendants who are incarcerated will be transported for their court hearing. When the court grants the petition, it will set aside the prior conviction or guilty plea and give the defendant a fresh start with their case. Defendants may ask that the outcome of their post-conviction relief case be appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court. PCR is also the method by which to obtain a belated appeal.

Why Hire a Post-Conviction Attorney?

Hiring a post-conviction lawyer can offer several benefits for individuals who have already been convicted of a crime and are seeking to challenge their conviction or sentence.

Here are several benefits and advantages of hiring an attorney who specializes in appeals and post-conviction relief:

  • Expertise and Experience: Post-conviction attorneys specialize in handling cases after a conviction has been made. They possess extensive knowledge and experience in the complex legal procedures involved in challenging convictions, making them well-equipped to navigate the legal system effectively. They understand the intricacies of post-conviction laws, rules, and procedures, allowing them to build strong arguments on behalf of their clients.
  • Procedural Knowledge: Post-conviction proceedings involve specific legal procedures such as filing appeals, motions, and petitions. Navigating these processes successfully requires a deep understanding of the rules and deadlines involved. A post-conviction attorney can ensure that all necessary documents are filed correctly and on time, minimizing the risk of procedural errors that could harm your case.
  • Investigation and Evidence: Post-conviction lawyers have the resources and skills to conduct thorough investigations that may uncover new evidence, witnesses, or flaws in the original trial. They can review the trial transcripts, interview witnesses, consult with experts, and employ forensic techniques to build a stronger case for their clients. This investigation can help identify potential grounds for appeal or post-conviction relief.
  • Protection and Constitutional Rights: a post-conviction lawyer is well-versed in constitutional law and can determine whether any violations occurred during the trial that could serve as a basis for challenging the conviction. They can ensure that your constitutional rights were protected throughout the legal process and argue for remedies if they were violated, such as ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, or violations of due process.
  • Sentence Reduction or Alternative Options: if you have already been sentenced, a post-conviction attorney can explore avenues for sentence reduction or alternative sentencing options. They can advocate for reconsideration of the original sentence based on factors such as mitigating circumstances, changes in the law, or evidence or rehabilitation. They may also explore alternatives to incarceration, such as probation, rehabilitation programs, or community service.
  • Emotional Support and Guidance: Dealing with a conviction and the subsequent legal processes can be emotionally taxing and overwhelming. A post-conviction attorney can provide valuable emotional support and guidance, helping you understand the legal options available and assisting you in making informed decisions about your case.

What are Family Court Appeals?

In addition to being experienced with assisting clients in appeals from criminal law cases, our Lexington appeals attorneys are also available to help those who need to challenge any final order of the South Carolina Family Court. This includes matters pertaining to adoption, custody, alimony, or other important issues. We are available to assist with appealing any type of final Family Court order from any county in South Carolina. Because there is only a limited time period to request an appeal, you should request a consultation with us as soon as you begin thinking about an appeal (please note, a consultation fee will apply).

Lexington Belated Appeal Attorneys

What do you do if you are trying to get a belated appeal for your case?

All criminal defendants have the right to appeal their conviction, but that right is lost if the appeal is not timely filed. A belated appeal is a legal term referring to an appeal being allowed after the normal time limit has expired. For example, a defendant has ten days to initial an appeal of a General Sessions-level conviction to the South Carolina Court of Appeals. The appeal is initiated by the filing of a Notice of Appeal with the Court and providing a copy to the prosecutor. If the appeal is not filed within this time, for any reason, it will be rejected by the Court of Appeals. This means that the appeal will be denied, even if there were serious or substantial errors present.

To qualify for a belated appeal a defendant must establish that they didn’t knowingly and intelligently waive their right to an appeal. The request for a belated appeal is normally included as part of a petition for post-conviction relief. If the PCR court finds that the defendant didn’t properly waive their right to an appeal, then it can issue an order allowing the appeal to be taken. If the PCR court denies the belated appeal, then the defendant has a right to petition the South Carolina Supreme Court directly for permission for the belated appeal.

There are many reasons why an appeal may not be timely filed. One situation that can arise is when the defendant instructs their attorney to file an appeal, but the attorney fails to do so. Other times the lawyer may mean to file the appeal but may inadvertently file it outside of the time period. There are also times when the original defense attorney may have never reviewed with the defendant the right to an appeal. Any of these situations can serve as a basis for the court to grant the right to a belated appeal.

Because a belated appeal is usually requested in the context of a post-conviction relief filing, you’ll need to make sure that this request is included in the requested relief. At the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, our PCR attorneys will automatically include the request for a belated appeal whenever the appeal was not properly filed by the original attorney. We’ll investigate the circumstances of the case to look for the type of failures in the process that can result in a belated appeal being granted. Then these issues can be presented to the PCR court in an effort to have the appeal granted.

Having a belated appeal granted can make all the difference in the circumstances that there were legal errors or mistakes made by the judge. Mistakes made by the judge cannot always be directly addressed in a PCR context, that is why it is so important to be on the lookout for the possibility of a belated appeal.

Your first step in trying to obtain a belated appeal, or any other post-conviction relief, should be to contact the lawyers at the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC.

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