Post-conviction Relief

While you might think it impossible to reverse drunk driving charges, there’s a procedure in New Jersey law that allows for such a reversal in limited circumstances. It’s called post-conviction relief (PCR).

Navigating the repercussions of a New Jersey DWI conviction can be intimidating, especially when considering the long-term implications a criminal record may have on your life. Post-conviction relief (PCR) offers hope for those seeking to mitigate these consequences.

The Law Offices of Christopher L. Baxter has successfully obtained PCR for several clients. Contact our criminal defense attorney today to determine your eligibility for post-conviction relief.

What is Post-Conviction Relief NJ?

Post-conviction relief in New Jersey refers to a legal process that allows individuals convicted of a DWI or criminal offense to raise more issues or present extra evidence that may alter their previous case result. Errors can sometimes occur in the justice system, resulting in wrongful convictions.

The primary goal of post-conviction relief is to address issues that may have affected the conviction’s fairness or the sentence’s legality. In certain circumstances, the previous conviction will be vacated completely, or a court order may be entered, preventing any new judge from using the old conviction for sentencing purposes.

Post-Conviction Relief for DWI

You can file for a PCR in a drunk driving case when:

  • You have new second or third DWI charges. A PCR can allow the presiding judge to ignore a previous drunk driving offense during sentencing. This means that you can be sentenced as a first-time offender despite having previous DWI offenses. The differences in consequences can be significant since subsequent offenses carry enhanced penalties including jail and lengthy license loss.

  • PCR is also effective if you’re being charged for driving with a suspended license and have a previous DWI. Usually, additional penalties and license suspension for current charges are addressed based on previous drunk driving convictions. A PCR can erase the first conviction and avoid harsher penalties.

  • PCR can also help if you cannot afford to pay the expensive DMV surcharges attached to DWI convictions. You won’t have to pay the expensive surcharge if the conviction is overturned through a PCR.

You can also file for a PCR on the following grounds:

  • If there was substantial denial of your rights under the New Jersey or Federal laws during the conviction proceedings

  • If you didn’t have an attorney

  • If you did have an attorney, but the attorney didn’t perform to the standard of care required under the US and state constitutions

  • The court that passed the judgment didn’t have jurisdiction

  • The sentence passed was in excess or wasn’t in conformity with the prevailing laws in New Jersey

How long do I have to file a PCR petition in NJ?

A PCR petition should be filed within five years of a guilty plea or conviction. However, there are exceptions to the rule:

  • There’s no deadline you’re filing the PCR because of an illegal sentencing or an error of constitutional dimension

  • If you didn’t have a lawyer in your previous case

  • The five-year deadline is lifted if your failure to meet it resulted from excusable neglect, i.e., not understanding your rights or not having representation.

NJ Post-conviction Relief Process

You need to fill out a petition in accordance with R. 7:10-2. This Petition must be filled out by the person seeking relief (the petitioner) and should be detailed about why you think you deserve this relief. Specifically, you should include the following information:

  • Details of the original conviction: State when and where you were convicted, including the specific charges (indictment or accusation), the court case number, and the county where it happened.

  • Information about your judgment or sentence: State when you were sentenced, the sentence, and the name of the judge in charge of your case.

  • Appellate proceedings information: If you appealed your conviction before, attach any official opinions or decisions from those appeals.

  • Previous PCR attempts: If you’ve tried to get PCR before for the same conviction, advise when you did this, what you claimed, and how it was resolved. Include any opinions from those proceedings, both from the trial and appeals.

  • Representation Information: Advise if you had a criminal defense lawyer in these past proceedings. If you did, include the lawyer’s name and whether you hired them or if they were court-appointed.

  • Current confinement status: State if and where you are currently incarcerated.

  • Notice of ineffective counsel claim: If part of your claim is ineffective assistance of counsel, you must let that lawyer know you’re making this claim.

The PCR procedure is complicated, and many attorneys do not understand the process or refuse to do so. Although it is complicated, the results are worth it. Fortunately, Christopher L Baxter is an experienced lawyer who has helped numerous clients seek and achieve an overturned conviction to protect their future.

Challenges to filing a PCR in NJ

It’s important to recognize that PCR is not a guaranteed solution and comes with challenges. The petitioner bears the burden of proof, and the legal thresholds for overturning a conviction are high. Additionally, there are strict time limits for filing a PCR petition, making prompt action essential.

The importance of legal representation

Navigating the complexities of PCR demands expertise in New Jersey’s legal system. Engaging an experienced attorney specialized in driving under the influence cases and PCR can significantly increase the chances of a successful outcome. They can help identify valid grounds for relief, gather necessary evidence, and present a compelling case to the court.

Attorney with experience obtaining post-conviction relief

Post-conviction relief presents a valuable legal recourse if you’ve suffered a DWI conviction in New Jersey. While the process is challenging and success is not guaranteed, it offers a pathway to potentially rectify legal missteps and move towards reclaiming your life.

If you believe you have a DWI conviction that warrants a review and examination for possible post-conviction relief, you should contact the experienced NJ DWI lawyer, Christopher L. Baxter, immediately. There are specific guidelines and time limitations within which a PCR application can be filed, and Criminal Defense Attorney Christopher L. Baxter will help you through the process. Contact us at (856)235-9881 today!

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