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Appeal a DV Conviction

Overturning a Conviction in South Carolina

Have you already gone to court and plead guilty or been found guilty of domestic violence? If so, we can assist you with either a domestic violence appeal or petition for post-conviction relief (PCR). In addition to assisting clients with appeals from domestic violence cases, we are also available to appeal from other types of criminal convictions.

You should contact us if any of the following apply:

  • You went to court and disagree with the outcome of what occurred
  • You plead guilty without a lawyer
  • You forgot your court date and were tried in your absence
  • You plead guilty after the court or your lawyer gave you wrong information
  • You hired a lawyer, but they failed to properly represent you or did a poor job in a trial

We can help with any DV case in any county in South Carolina. Being convicted of domestic violence can have drastic consequences on your life. It can affect your employment for life, and can have consequences in Family Court and prevent you from owning a firearm.

Everyone who has been convicted of domestic violence has a right to have their situation reviewed, but in order to do it is important that you act quickly. Rights to appeal expire within days of going to court, and for post-conviction relief petition there is a strict one-year deadline. You can hire our office for your appeal whether you represented yourself during your original proceeding or were represented by another attorney. If your DV appeal is successful, it will result in either a dismissal of your conviction or an award of a new trial.

Call our domestic violence lawyers at (803) 359-3301to appeal your conviction!

Right to Appeal a Conviction

All criminal domestic violence convictions in South Carolina can be appealed. Convictions that originate in a municipal court (city police), a magistrate court or a local DV court are taken to the court of common pleas. Appeals from transfer court or general sessions are taken to the South Carolina Court of Appeals. You have a right to appeal your conviction after pleading guilty to DV or after being found guilty after a bench or jury trial.

You must act immediately in order to appeal a conviction for criminal domestic violence, so it is important that you move quickly to enlist the help of a Lexington CDV defense attorney from our firm. The proper forms must be filed with the court and served on the prosecution within ten days of your conviction. If this time period passes you forever lose your right to appeal the conviction.

While you have a right to appeal from a bench trial, the Court will only consider those appeals where there is an allegation that the judge made some sort of mistake in accepting the plea. Otherwise, in order to get help after a guilty plea the best course of action is usually PCR.

Appealing a Guilty Plea in Lexington, South Carolina

You have a right to appeal after pleading guilty to any domestic violence offense. Although an appeal based solely on a defendant changing their mind about pleading guilty will not be successful, in some cases there are grounds to appeal after a guilty plea. These may include failures of the court to advise you about the rights to an attorney and to a jury trial, or misrepresents what the sentence will be.

Other issues may involve defendants who were unable to understand the court proceedings due to:

  • Mental illness
  • Illiteracy
  • Special needs
  • Being from a foreign country

After a Criminal Trial

You have a right to appeal after being convicted of DV after a bench (judge only) or jury trial. The available grounds may include any errors of law committed by your trial court including allowing hearsay testimony, admitting evidence from illegal searches, or allowing unqualified expert testimony, such as a police officer's testimony regarding "freshness" of injuries. There may also be grounds if the court cannot establish that you made a knowledgeable decision about waiving your right to a jury trial, right to remain silent, or an attorney.

Post-Conviction Relief

Another way to challenge a conviction is through a process called post-conviction relief (PCR). This isn’t an appeal; instead it is a special type of lawsuit filed against the government challenging the conviction. Most of the time the grounds are based on ineffective assistance of counsel, that means that something wrong the original defense lawyer did or did not do. Possible grounds can also include situations where a defendant went to court by themselves and acted as their own attorney.

As an example, attorney James Snell was able to use the PCR procedures to obtain a re-opening and then a dismissal of a client’s DV conviction.

The client went to court by himself and was found guilty by the judge. Later, the PCR court found that the original court’s procedures to ensure that defendants were properly advised about their legal rights was inadequate, and ordered the conviction to be overturned. (Any result obtained on behalf of other clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate that similar results can be obtained for other clients).

The PCR process must begin within one year of the original conviction or the end of any appeal. It is begun by filing a petition with the Court of Common Pleas. The state will be represented by the Attorney General’s office. It is the same procedure to file for PCR for a DV 3rd conviction, or a case from General Sessions.

Motions for New Trial

If you did not appear at your original court date and were convicted in your absence, you have a right to have a lawyer prepare and file a motion for a new trial. This is the formal mechanism to seek to re-open your case and give you a new court date. It is important that if you plan on doing this you act immediately, as your time to do so in usually limited to ten days after you learn your conviction.

In most circumstances the law allows the judge to decide, either way, if the case will be re-opened. However many times they are willing to do so. We have found that sometimes cases will be re-opened even if you just mixed up your dates on your calendar (and often times judges are more willing to help if you are up-front about this rather than try to make up another excuse).

Here are some more examples of situations that might cause a judge to consider granting a new court date:

  • Sudden major illness or injury
  • Death in the immediate family
  • Scheduling conflict with another court
  • Being rearrested and held in jail

Time is always of the essence when filing a motion for a new trial. We frequently try to get our paperwork filed the same day we are hired (and sometimes within the first hour). If you have been convicted and believe that there may be a way to contest the case, contact us now for a free consultation. We serve clients in South Carolina, including those in Columbia.

A criminal defense lawyer from our team can review the circumstances of your case to determine whether you have grounds to file an appeal, and we are ready to take immediate action on your behalf. Call our office today to learn more.

Former Clients' Experiences

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