If a judge or jury has convicted you of a felony offense in the Grand Canyon State, you have a right to appeal your conviction. Furthermore, if you are facing a death sentence, your matter has an automatic appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court. You should realize, though, that appeals often take a significant amount of time to conclude.
There are usually three types of post-conviction relief you may seek. Which one is right for you depends on both the facts of your case and the law. As such, you must understand your options and choose the best course of action. Here are three possibilities.
- Post-conviction relief petitions
If there was some problem with your case, you may ask the trial judge for post-conviction relief following a guilty verdict or plea. To do so, you file a written argument, and state prosecutors respond in writing. It may be necessary for the trial judge to hear oral arguments, listen to witnesses or consider evidence. As court dockets are often full, this process may drag on for months.
- Direct appeals
You may choose to appeal your matter to an Arizona appellate court. Doing so, though, often takes longer than filing a post-conviction relief petition. That is, both your attorney and the government must write legal briefs about the issues in your case. This takes time. Eventually, a panel of judges may schedule oral arguments before ruling.
- Writs of habeas corpus
After exhausting state post-conviction relief options, you may be able to file a writ of habeas corpus petition with the United States District Court in Arizona. Like other types of relief, writs of habeas corpus require making and responding to legal arguments. You may not receive a decision for months or years after you file the petition, unfortunately.
The Arizona and U.S. legal systems do not move quickly. Still, you should not have to spend time behind bars if a judge, jury or someone else made a fundamental error. Even though appealing your conviction may take a long time, it may also be necessary to protect both your legal interests and your freedom.