POST-CONVICTION RELIEF MOTIONS (FLORIDA'S 3.850 and FEDERAL'S 2255 MOTIONS)
by 3.850 Lawyer Joe Bodiford
Many times people ask me about how they can challenge their conviction after the trial and appeal is over. There are things that can be done to overturn convictions after all hope seems to be lost.
There are several grounds by which to attack a conviction. The most common are:
Ineffective assistance of counsel (failure to call an important witness, failure to investigate the case, not relaying an offer that the defendant would have taken instead of going to trial, etc)
Newly discovered evidence
Unconsitutionality of a statute
The most common is a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel ("IAC"). Defendants in criminal court are entitled to effective counsel - a guarantee made by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
IAC claims come in many, many forms. The essence of the claim is that the attorney did or did not do something that changed the outcome for the worse. Commonly, defendants have witnesses that they tell the attorney about and those witnesses are never investigated or called at trial. Other times, defendants find out long after the plea or trial that there was an offer that was made by the State that was never relayed to the defendant. Sometimes defendants claim that they were "strong-armed" into the plea by their trial attorney.
Newly discovered evidence is less common, and more complicated to rely on in 3.850 motion. If evidence comes about that the defendant and the attorney did not know about, and could not have known about, then it can be used to re-open the case. These situtations are very limited, as it is uncommon that something will just come out of the woodwork after a trial. I had a successful newly-discovered evidence 3.850 a few years ago. My client did not know that a witness had been coerced by the police and prosecutors' office until he had been in prison for several years. She only came forward after her husband was off of probation, and could not be violated (that was how she was threatened). We filed the motion with her sworn statement, and the judge found her to be credible. I was able to get a life sentence reversed.
In Federal court, there are similar motions that can be filed - one for Federal cases, and one for State cases that can be moved into Federal court. The law is very complicated, and not every case qualifies for movement to Federal court.
If you or your loved one believes that there was ineffective assistance of counsel, or there may be newly discovered evidence, or you think that there may be grounds to go to Federal court, call 3.850 attorney Joe Bodiford for a counsultation.