“We find the Defendant GUILTY.” Nothing can upend your life faster than hearing those words at the end of a case. Despite any attorney’s best efforts, around 2/3 of all criminal cases end in conviction. But that doesn’t mean the fight ends once you are sentenced. Most people convicted of a crime have the same question: “What happens next?” For many, conviction means a short term of probation, fees, and costs, and moving on with life. For some, however, the consequences of a conviction are so life-altering that moving on is not an option. At Stracci Law Group, we understand that when years of your life are on the line, conviction is never the last word. The Stracci Law Group has successfully handled hundreds of post-conviction proceedings, from direct appeals in murder cases to petitions for post-conviction relief to sentence modifications. We have the experience and resourcefulness to put you in the best position to succeed after your conviction, regardless of how you were convicted.
What Happens Next?
The answer to this question depends a great deal on how and where you were convicted. For example, if you were recently convicted in a city or town court, you have no right to appeal and no right to petition for post-conviction relief. However, you do have a right to a new trial in the Circuit or Superior courts or to file a motion for relief from judgment. In Circuit and Superior courts, after trial and some plea agreements, you have the right to appeal to the Indiana Court of Appeals.
Every appeal is a little different, but they all have one thing in common: the Court of Appeals will not retry your case. Instead, appeals deal entirely with error. The prosecutor erred by using dirty tricks. The court erred in admitting certain evidence at trial. The court erred in granting or denying a motion. The court erred by sentencing you to too much time. Some appeals have all these issues. Some only claim that your sentence is inappropriate. We’ve handled appeals ranging from single issues to complex multi-issue cases and have found ways to argue issues on our client’s behalf even when they didn’t object at trial.
Appeals must be filed within 30 days of sentencing so that trial records and transcripts can be prepared. At Stracci Law Group, our team moves quickly to review your trial record, spot those issues, research the law, and craft arguments that give you the best chance of success on appeal. Afterward, we draft those arguments into a high-quality, collaborative brief for filing. After the State responds, we use the same process to write the reply brief so that you have the last and best word before the Court of Appeals decides. And, as always, we keep an eye towards the future, making sure to raise issues in such a way that they can be litigated again on post-conviction relief in case the appeal is unsuccessful.
Petitions for Post-Conviction Relief (PCR) are used in two main situations: following a loss on direct appeal or following a plea agreement. Like appeals, PCRs deal with error, but typically only special types of error. First, petitions for post-conviction relief can deal with fundamental error. Fundamental error is where the court or the prosecutor makes a mistake so bad that your trial was fundamentally unfair or, in the case of plea agreements, had you known about the error, you wouldn’t have pled guilty. The second special type of error is the ineffective assistance of counsel. Every attorney tries their best, but even good ones make mistakes in the courtroom. Sometimes attorneys fail to object to a piece of evidence or a motion when they could have won the objection. Sometimes they miss a recent update in the law and don’t know that an instruction is wrong. And sometimes they forget to advise you of a critical fact before taking a plea agreement, such as resulting deportation, sex offender registry, or loss of a critical right, to name a few. Third is newly discovered evidence that would have changed the outcome of your case.
At Stracci Law Group, we can spot these errors in the proceedings because we do it the right way every day. We know how prejudicial these mistakes can be to your rights and livelihood, a fact that must be shown to the court on PCR. As with appeals, our team works quickly to thoroughly examine the record of your case for all issues, investigate any newly discovered evidence, and craft solid arguments as to why you should get a new trial. Along the way, we are as careful in PCRs as we are in trials to document and preserve every issue so that if the trial court denies your petition, you are in the best possible position to appeal that ruling too.
Sometimes no amount of errors can persuade the courts to give you a new trial. At Stracci Law Group, that doesn’t mean you should quietly serve whatever sentence was imposed. We pride ourselves on responding to letters and phone calls from Indiana correctional facilities with tips on how inmates can maximize their chances for sentence modification. Almost all sentence modifications require a clean Department of Correction conduct report. But what really improves the chances of modification is a compelling story. Has your crime had its statutory sentence greatly reduced? Has there been a change in circumstances that make your incarceration an undue hardship to your family? Have you gone above and beyond the normal rehabilitation process while in the DOC? Our team works with you and your family to craft the best story with the best presentation to maximize your chances of convincing the court and the prosecutor that you deserve a second chance sooner.
Schedule a Free, Thorough Consultation About Your Northwest Indiana Appeal, Post-Conviction Relief, or Sentence Modification
The Stracci Law Group is highly qualified to help you if you have been convicted of a crime. Paul Stracci has spent his entire career helping people convicted of felonies and misdemeanors seek relief from unfair convictions and overly-harsh sentences. His assembled team includes two former deputy prosecutors who have handled hundreds of misdemeanor and major felony cases. If you have been convicted of a crime and sentenced in Northwest Indiana, we invite you to contact us to learn more about your case. We offer free, comprehensive, and confidential consultations, and we want you to feel confident that we are the best choice to defend your legal rights. Conviction and sentence should never be the end of your fight. To discuss your case with the Stracci Law Group, please contact us today at (219) 525-1000.