The justice system is set up to protect the innocent and punish the guilty, but the reality is that the system isn’t perfect. If your rights were violated while being prosecuted for a crime, you have options. First being a direct appeal. If you don’t have grounds for a direct appeal or it is denied, you still have an option to ask the court for post-conviction relief. Lastly, habeas corpus relief is available to challenge the legality of your imprisonment. All of these options are governed by complex rules, requirements, and filing deadlines. Call a qualified Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney to help you help yourself.
A direct appeal is appropriate if you think there was some sort of reversible error that you can appeal to the higher court to overturn your conviction or sentence. The Supreme Court of Illinois makes the rules that govern appeals and require that an appeal be taken within 30 days of the final judgment is rendered.
A Notice of Appeal must be filed, which you should be advised of at the time you receive your judgment. At that time, the record of appeal is compiled by the court clerk, which will contain the transcript of all the proceedings you were involved in resulting in your conviction. Your appeal will consist of briefs, motions, and oral arguments of your argument for why your conviction should be reversed or sentence changed. A qualified Illinois Appeals Attorney can guide you through this process.
According to Illinois law, you can file a petition for post-conviction if you think your state or federal constitutional rights by ineffective assistance of counsel, the use of perjured testimony by the State, failure to comply with the plea agreement, and actual innocence. This last ground for relief is available to those who have received the death penalty who have discovered new evidence not available at trial that tends to prove they are innocent of the crime.
This type of petition must be filed within the legal timelines, depending on the types of direct appeal you have sought in your case. If appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, the petition is due within 6 months from the conclusion of the appeal (or 6 months from when your petition would have been due for this appeal). If no direct appeal is sought, and the conviction did not involve the death penalty, you have 3 years from the date of your conviction to ask the court for relief.
The right to habeas corpus relief is actually a constitutional right. The process involves filing a petition claiming your imprisonment is wrong. This can be brought on grounds of improper jurisdiction, due process deprivation, or some other violation that makes your imprisonment illegal. This is a complicated body of law that involves both federal and state statutory schemes, with various rules for when and how to file the petition for different types of cases, particularly capital v. non-capital crimes. Given the complexities of this process and the changes to the law that have occurred over the last several years, it is in your best interest to contact a qualified Illinois Appeals Attorney for assistance.