After you have been convicted and opted to either waive or pursue your right to a direct appeal, you have the option to pursue a post-conviction relief action. If you have decided to pursue this action, you have the option of working with appointed counsel, hiring a retained attorney, or proceeding forward pro se. This is a very difficult decision to make, and it should not be made lightly. However, our office recommends that you always proceed forward with an attorney well versed in post-conviction relief law for five primary reasons:
- They save you time. Learning all the issues that can be raised at a post-conviction relief hearing and what issues are strongest in your case can be a time-consuming activity. Hiring an attorney that is well-versed in post-conviction relief law can save you the time and hassle that comes with handling the matter yourself.
- They know the relevant issues that may warrant relief. Post-conviction relief actions are based heavily on Supreme Court and South Carolina case law. You need someone well versed in what issues the courts are inclined grant upon and who is trained to weed out the important issues from the rest of the record. An attorney can help you do that, which only improves your odds of being granted relief.
- They know what evidence or facts from your criminal case are relevant to the issues. Post-conviction relief attorneys are much more aware of what issues should be raised before the Court. They know what issues are much more likely to be granted relief upon, which increases your chance of success.
- They know what witnesses need to be called at the evidentiary hearing. Though most post-conviction relief hearings focus on the testimonies of trial or plea counsel and of the applicant, other witnesses may be needed to flesh out your issues more fully. These witnesses can consist of one of your family members or friends, a co-defendant, the prosecutor, or someone else with some connection to your case. An attorney can help you identify those people and encourage you to bring them to court with you or otherwise work to secure their presence, which increases your chances of winning on the issues.
- They can force the Court to take your case more seriously. Counsel inherently adds an additional level of professionalism to your case almost every time. The State or Court may be inclined to take your case less seriously and contemplate your issues less thoroughly if you decide to represent yourself. Counsel can prevent this, increasing your chances of success.
If you are interested in pursuing a post-conviction relief action, we are extremely happy to help. Please contact our office for a consultation regarding your case today.