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Post-Conviction Relief

Rhode Island Post-Conviction Relief Attorney

Have you or someone you love been convicted of a crime in the State of Rhode Island... but something about that conviction is unfair, unconstitutional or just plain wrong? If so, you need to speak with an attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable about all of your legal options. 

After a criminal conviction, many families find that it is best to adjust to their new reality and move on.  But sometimes, the right thing to do is keep fighting for a better result.  

What is Post-Conviction Relief?

Post-conviction relief can refer to several types of legal actions.

Application for Post-Conviction Relief

An Application for Post-Conviction Relief is a statutory mechanism that permits a person who has been convicted of a crime and who claims that the conviction was in violation of the constitution of the United States or the constitution or laws of this state, to institute a proceeding in the same court where the conviction was ordered in order to secure relief.  This statutory mechanism in Rhode Island is § 10-9.1-1(a).  Keep in mind, however, that although this law entitles a person convicted of a crime to the process of asking for relief, the person convicted bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he is entitled to relief. Post-conviction relief, pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 10-9.1-1, is available to “any person who has been convicted of a crime and who thereafter alleges either that the conviction violated the applicant's constitutional rights or that the existence of newly discovered material facts requires vacation of the conviction in the interest of justice.”

To prove to the court that it should grant you the relief you seek, you must make a persuasive legal argument that, when the court applies the law to the facts of your case, compels it to grant you relief in the interest of justice.   At a post conviction relief hearing, your attorney is afforded the opportunity to argue to the judge why the court should grant your petition.  The Attorney General also has the opportunity to argue to the judge against granting your petition.  If the court denies your application for post-conviction relief, there is not an automatic appeal to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.  However, you may file a Petition for Writ of Certiorari, requesting an appeal of the decision to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

Motion to Reduce Sentence

A motion to reduce a sentence is brought under Rhode Island Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 35.  A Rule 35 motion is essentially a plea for leniency. The Motion may be granted if the sentencing justice decides on reflection or based on changed circumstances that the sentence originally imposed was, for any reason, unduly severe.The proper sentencing factors, as defined by the Rhode Island Supreme Court, are “(1) the severity of the crime, (2) the defendant's personal, educational, and employment background, (3) the potential for rehabilitation, (4) the element of societal deterrence, and (5) the appropriateness of the punishment.”  

Motion for a New Trial Based Upon Newly Discovered Evidence

Rule 33 of the Superior Court Rules of Criminal Procedure says that the court may grant a new trial to the defendant if required in the interest of justice. This includes newly discovered evidence that could have changed the outcome of the case. The Court will use a two-pronged test when considering a motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence brought pursuant to Rule 33. 

The first prong is actually a four-part inquiry, requiring that the evidence is: (1) Newly discovered since trial, (2) Not discoverable prior to trial with the exercise of due diligence, (3) Not merely cumulative or impeaching but rather material to the issue upon which it is admissible, and (4) Of the type which would probably change the verdict at trial. 

The second prong, which is to be addressed only if the requirements set forth in the first prong have been satisfied, requires that the trial justice determine if the evidence presented is credible enough to warrant a new trial.  

A motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence may be made only within three (3) years after the entry of judgment by the court. 

When should I hire a post-conviction relief attorney?

It is very important to hire an attorney that is experienced with every type of relief available to someone who has been convicted of a crime.  This is true especially when the person is,

  • Actually innocent of the crime,
  • Facing deportation or exclusion from the United States,
  • Applying for United States Citizenship or renewal of residency,
  • Labeled as a sex offender, and looking at the collateral consequences of a sex offense,
  • In prison after their constitutional rights have been trampled on.

Attorney Kara Hoopis Manosh handles these complicated and serious cases.  Attorney Manosh has  vacated convictions for people facing deportation.  She has successfully removed sex offenders from the online registry.  She has walked her clients out of prison after negotiating new terms of their plea agreements.  Yes, this is very difficult to achieve.  Please do not think this will be easy to accomplish- once convicted, it is an uphill battle every step of the way.  The process starts by contacting Attorney Kara Hoopis Manosh for a case assessment to review all of your legal options. 

Contact Me Today

Kara Hoopis Manosh, Attorney and Counselor at Law is committed to answering your questions about Criminal Defense, Appeals, and Post-Conviction Relief issues in Rhode Island.

I offer a free case strategy session and I'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact me today to schedule an appointment.

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