gavel and justice scalesThis is the second post in our series on the handling of Little Rock, Arkansas post-conviction matters. Our last post provided an overview of topics we will be discussing and stressed the need to contact an attorney if you or a loved one wishes to petition for a writ of habeas corpus. It is important to understand that you may only bring such a request within a limited period of time. This is why it is important to contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. In this post we will discuss another important topic – the differences between post-conviction relief and appeals.

Petitioning for a writ of habeas corpus and filing an appeal are two different processes. An appeal is typically filed immediately after a defendant has been convicted and challenges errors which occurred at trial. These errors may include a Judge mistakenly admitting or denying the admission of certain evidence, the Judge incorrectly overruling or granting an objection, or whether there was sufficient evidence for the Jury to issue a conviction. A defendant may not use an appeal to challenge whether their attorney should or should not have taken certain steps; an appeal can only be used to challenge the evidence at trial. It may not be used to claim that the defense lawyer did not do his or her job. Such claims must be made during a request for post-conviction relief.

Requests for post-conviction relief are typically brought after an appeal has been denied. Any claims made when requesting a writ of habeas corpus must be made by arguing that the defense attorney was somehow ineffective, that the law has changed since the conviction was issued, or that new evidence has been discovered. Issues of whether the Trial Judge made a mistake are not permitted during post-conviction proceedings. Our coming articles will explain issues such as what constitutes “ineffective assistance of counsel,” changes in the law, and when such circumstances will warrant reversing a conviction.

Post-conviction requests can also raise issues which occurred during a defendant’s appeal. A defendant may claim that the appellate lawyer provided ineffective assistance of counsel just as they can make such claims against their Trial Lawyer. For this reason it is often wise to have a lawyer, other than the one who filed an initial appeal, when bringing a post-conviction request.

This is a highly complicated area of law and many attorneys do not handle requests for writs of habeas corpus. Patrick Benca and our Little Rock lawyers have over twenty-five years of combined legal experience and have devoted their careers to standing up for the rights of the accused. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff and throughout the rest of the state.