by Florida Criminal Appeals Lawyer Joseph Bodiford
Appeals and Post-Conviction Motions
After a plea or a trial, the case is usually not over. An APPEAL may be taken to a higher court. An appeal asks that higher court (in Florida, the District Court of Appeal or Florida Supreme Court) to look at the case to determine if any errors were made. Errors can come from the trial court’s rulings on evidence, jury instructions, and rulings on pre-trial motions. AN APPEAL DOES NOT REWEIGH THE EVIDENCE – by law, an appellate court cannot substitute its judgment for that of a jury. Thus, an appellate attorney has to find other creative ways to get a reversal in a criminal case.
Florida appeals attorney Joe Bodiford has handled many criminal appeals in Florida’s First, Second, Fourth, and Fifth District Courts, the Florida Supreme Court, and the Federal Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. He has briefed many issues, from denials of motions to suppress to sufficiency of the evidence to convict, to issues on jury instructions. He has personally written appeals for cases that went to trial, cases that pled but had a pre-trial motion, and post-conviction motions. In one case, Mr. Bodiford was able to have a Rule 3.850 motion in a murder case that had been denied REVERSED, and then won the case back in the trial court.
In most cases, AN APPEAL MUST BE TAKEN in order to preserve other post-conviction issues in State and Federal courts.
POST-CONVICTION MOTIONS (3.850 and 3.800)
After a conviction is “final” (meaning the time for an appeal has passed, or if an appeal was taken, after that appeal is concluded), there is still a way to challenge a conviction. Hope is not lost!
A motion for post-conviction relief, known in Florida as a “3.850” or “3850” motion, may be filed in the trial court (where the conviction came from). Under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.850, a motion may be made attacking “collateral” matters, which are issues that were not evident in the actual record. In other words, issues that are “collateral” to what happened in court. The most common grounds for a 3.850 motion are the ineffective assistance of counsel (the trial attorney didn’t do something he or she should have), newly discovered evidence, DNA testing, and the legality of the sentence.
A RULE 3.850 MOTION IS NOT AN APPEAL. It is not a reweighing of the issues that were presented on appeal. In fact, either most issues in criminal cases are for appeal or for post-conviction; each process is limited to those issues and will be denied if they are raised in the wrong court.
In some cases, other issues come up after a sentencing hearing that need to be heard by the judge. There are times that a judge may be willing to reduce (or “mitigate”) a sentence. A motion asking a judge to reconsider and reduce a sentence is filed under Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800. Not all cases qualify for this type of motion; it takes special planning and care to get a case prepared for a successful 3.800 motion.
It is important to hire an attorney who is familiar with this very complex area of law. Joe Bodiford has handled many, many 3.850 and 3.800 motions. He was a post-conviction clerk for the Hillsborough County courts while in law school. As an assistant state attorney in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, he was called on to litigate numerous post-conviction motions because of his clerking experience. As a defense attorney since 1999, he has handled hundreds of 3.850 motions, from the review process all the way to final evidentiary hearings. He has litigated 3.850 motions from Pensacola to Jacksonville, in Orlando, Inverness, Pinellas and Pasco counties, and countless motions in Hillsborough County. The cases he has handled have ranged from drug trafficking to murder (most recently winning a high-profile murder case in Orlando), sex crime cases, and everything in between.
Mr. Bodiford’s vast experience with 3.850 and 3.800 motions has led him to develop a unique review system, to inform the client what possible issues can be raised. He can also handle a motion that was filed pro se (by the client) at an evidentiary hearing. If you need help with a criminal appeal, do not delay in calling Florida appeals lawyer Joe Bodiford now at (850) 222-4LAW or (813) 222-0032.