As we know, the criminal justice system in California is not perfect. For a variety of reasons, an innocent person might be convicted of a crime they did not commit. Some innocent people are currently serving time in prison.
Even after a conviction at the trial level, the defendant can file a direct appeal. The direct appeal typically looks at errors that can be found on the face of the record or within the four corners of the record on appeal.
After the direct appeals are exhausted, the only other way to gain relief is by filing and litigating post-conviction motions including writs of habeas corpus or motions to vacate a judgment.
The criminal defense attorney might need years to investigation these crimes because of the time it takes to locate all of the discovery materials or find exculpatory evidence that was never provided to the defense before trial or at trial.
Attorney for Post-Conviction Motions in Ventura, CA
A person has a right to file a motion for post-conviction relief after being convicted of a crime, including motions to vacate or set aside a judgment and writs of habeas corpus.
When seeking post-conviction relief, the first step is obtaining all of the post-conviction discovery materials from the prosecutor’s office, the criminal defense attorney who tried the case at the trial level, and the clerk’s office.
The attorney who handles the post-conviction motion must review this material carefully and sometimes locate materials that were never previously provided.
At Jay Leiderman Law, we help clients convicted at trial of serious felony and misdemeanor charges with motions for a new trial, direct appeals, or motions for post-conviction relief.
Call us today at (805) 654-0200 for a free consultation. We can help you file a post-conviction writ of habeas corpus or a motion to vacate a judgment.
Obtaining Post-Conviction Discovery Material in California
The term “post-conviction discovery” is generally understood as the provision of materials and documents provided to the defendant during the criminal case.
Your attorney for a post-conviction writ of habeas corpus or a motion to vacate a judgment must first obtain the discovery materials from the criminal defense attorney who represented him or her at the time of the conviction.
The “discovery materials” in the post-conviction context includes the materials in the possession of the prosecution and law enforcement authorities to which the defendant would have been entitled to at the time of trial.
The attorney for the post-conviction motion must also obtain access to physical evidence relating to the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of the defendant, sometimes by seeking a court order to obtain access.
After the writ or motion for post-conviction relief is filed, your attorney can seek a court order to be provided access to physical evidence for the purpose of examination, including, but not limited to, any physical evidence relating to the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of the defendant.
To obtain the court order, the post-conviction attorney must show good cause to believe that access to physical evidence is reasonably necessary to the defendant’s effort to obtain relief.
Four Types of Post-Conviction Discovery Material
As explained in Davis v. Superior Court (2016) 1 Cal. App. 5th 881, 886, to obtain post-conviction relief, an attorney might seek to show their client’s actual innocence by seeking out the following types of evidence:
- evidence the prosecution did provide at time of trial but that has since become lost to the defendant;
- evidence the prosecution should have provided at time of trial because it came within the scope of a discovery order the trial court actually issued at that time, a statutory duty to provide discovery, or the constitutional duty to disclose exculpatory evidence;
- evidence the prosecution should have provided at time of trial because the defense specifically requested it at that time and was entitled to receive it; or
- evidence the prosecution had no obligation to provide at time of trial absent a specific defense request, but to which the defendant would have been entitled at time of trial had the defendant specifically requested it.