Appeals Modification of Sentences Post Conviction Petitions in Maryland
Our country is supposed to have one of the fairest legal processes in the world, but it’s a fact that the system still has its weaknesses. When you believe that the system has failed you with an unjust decision, you have the right to ask the courts for another look.
All post-conviction legal work is specialized in nature. Whether you want to appeal the decision in your case or request a modification of sentence, it’s vital that you speak with an attorney who is well-versed in the complicated Maryland post-conviction process. Attorney Jonathan Fellner specializes in Maryland criminal defense and has years of experience in helping clients with their appeals and post-conviction petitions throughout the state.
When Judges and Juries Don’t Get it Right the First Time
Legal proceedings such as hearings and trials can be complex affairs. It’s not uncommon for a mistake to be made that affects the outcome of a case, changing the life of a defendant in the blink of an eye. Perhaps the judge ruled against you in a procedural matter when the law was clearly on your side. Sometimes an attorney comes to court unprepared to defend their client, and the outcome is devastating. Maybe a client accepts a plea agreement without having the consequences of the sentence fully explained. When mistakes are made, there is an appeals process that may be able to set them right provided you enlist the services of a knowledgeable Maryland appeals attorney.
Types of Appeals in Maryland
There are several types of appeals in Maryland courts depending on your particular issue and your goals. Those types of appeals are:
- Appeal from District Court to Circuit Court. If your case was originally heard in a district court, you can appeal to the Circuit Court and ask for a new hearing.
- Appeal from Circuit Court to Court of Special Appeals. If you went to either a jury trial or a bench trial and are unhappy with the result, you have the automatic right to appeal that decision to the Court of Special Appeals in Maryland.
- Appeals to the Court of Appeals.The Court of Appeals the state’s highest appeals court, and there is not an automatic right to these appeals. Your attorney will need to file a Writ of Certiorari and have it approved before a case can be heard in this court.
- En Banc Review. An En Banc Review is a circuit court review of a case by a three-member panel, whose decision cannot be further appealed.
What Are the Grounds for an Appeal/Post Conviction in Maryland?
If you plan to file an appeal that challenges the decision in your case, you’ll need to have legal standing. Most appeals deal with a legal error which you can claim had a negative impact on your case’s outcome. Unfortunately, these appeals aren’t as much about guilt or innocence as they are about procedure, although an innocent party can certainly be falsely convicted through the actions of a broken system. Some of the grounds for appeal and reversal include:
- Evidence found to be insufficient
- Misinterpretation of the law
- Significant procedural errors
- Relevant legal standards were misapplied
- Imposition of an illegal sentence by the courts
- Prosecutorial misconduct due to exclusion of evidence
- Ineffective assistance of counsel
In criminal cases, the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel is the most common reason for appeal in a post-conviction petition. The U.S. Constitution’s 6th Amendment entitles everyone to “effective assistance of counsel,” so failure to provide this could be grounds for reversal. To prove this, your attorney must show two things: first, that your original attorney made a mistake and, second, that the error(s) made were serious enough to impact the outcome of your case.
The Particulars of a Post-Conviction Appeal
If you have been convicted of a crime in Maryland and are incarcerated or on probation or parole, you are entitled to file for post-conviction relief as stated in the Maryland Uniform Post Conviction Procedure Act. If your conviction was after 1995, you have just 10 years from the date of your sentence to file an appeal unless you can demonstrate extraordinary cause. If you were convicted before 1995, that 10-year deadline does not apply.
When gross errors were made during your original case, it could have far-reaching consequences. An attorney who miscalculates sentencing guidelines or fails to advise you of the consequences of a plea deal has placed you in a difficult position. The negative outcome of your case due to ineffective counsel and other legal errors may help you prevail in a post-conviction appeal
The post-conviction petition should be filed in the same court where your trial or sentencing took place. Your appeal, however, will be heard by a different judge than the one who originally presided over your case. If your post-conviction claim isn’t successful, you also have the right to file an Application for Leave within 30 days of that decision.
Filing For a Modification of Sentence in Maryland
Maryland law allows for the filing of a modification of your sentence as long as it is done within 90 days of your sentencing date. Any modification of sentence must be heard within 5 years of your sentence date.
Coram Nobis relief
If you’ve already been convicted of a crime and are no longer in jail, or on probation or parole, your Maryland appeals attorney also can file a coram nobis petition on your behalf. A coram nobis petition in Maryland allows you, with the assistance of your attorney, to request the correction of a legal error h as a guilty plea or ineffective assistance of counsel on immigration consequences. Mr. Fellner successfully argued in the Maryland Court of Appeals that an attempt to limit Coram Nobis Petitions by statute should not be allowed – State v. Smith, 443 Md. 572 (2015).
Appeal Your Case With the Help of an Experienced Maryland Post-Conviction Attorney
When the outcome of your initial case result isn’t in your favor, you have two choices. You can accept that decision and attempt to move forward with your life, or you can keep fighting for the justice you deserve. At Jonathan Fellner, Attorney at Law, we understand that the Maryland courts make mistakes and only want what is in our client’s best interests.
Attorney Jonathan Fellner will continue to fight on your behalf until the issues in your case have been fully resolved. With extensive post-conviction experience on behalf of Maryland clients, Mr. Fellner aggressively pursues the most favorable legal outcome in some of the state’s toughest criminal cases. Contact our criminal law office today at ((301) 602-0835 or online to schedule a consultation to discuss your legal options.