Post Conviction Relief Law & Legal Definition


Post-conviction relief is a general term related to appeals of criminal convictions, which may include release, new trial, modification of sentence, and such other relief as may be proper and just. The court may also make supplementary orders to the relief granted, concerning such matters as rearraignment, retrial, custody and release on security.

The term may refer to a law or court rule that allows a collateral challenge to a judgment of conviction which has otherwise become final in the normal appellate review process. Post-conviction relief is governed by federal and state laws, which vary by state, and may be used to preclude state or federal habeas corpus.

The following is an example of a state law dealing with post-conviction relief:

Section 1. Remedy - To whom available - Conditions.

(a) Any person who has been convicted of, or sentenced for, a crime by a court of this state, and who claims:

(1) that the conviction or the sentence was in violation of the Constitution of the United States or the constitution or laws of this state;

(2) that the court was without jurisdiction to impose sentence;

(3) that the sentence exceeds the maximum authorized by law, or is otherwise erroneous;

(4) that there exists evidence of material facts, not previously presented and heard, that requires vacation of the conviction or sentence in the interest of justice;

(5) that his sentence has expired, his probation, parole or conditional release unlawfully revoked, or he is otherwise unlawfully held in custody or other restraint;

(6) that the conviction or sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack upon any ground of alleged error heretofore available under any common law, statutory or other writ, motion, petition, proceeding, or remedy;

may institute at any time a proceeding under this Rule to secure relief.

(b) This remedy is not a substitute for a direct appeal from the conviction and/or the sentence and all available steps including those under Rule PC 2 should be taken to perfect such an appeal. Except as otherwise provided in this Rule, it comprehends and takes the place of all other common law, statutory, or other remedies heretofore available for challenging the validity of the conviction or sentence and it shall be used exclusively in place of them. This Rule supersedes present Supreme Court Rules 2-40, 2-40A, and 2-40B.

(c) This Rule does not suspend the writ of habeas corpus, but if a petitioner applies for a writ of habeas corpus, in the court having jurisdiction of his person, attacking the validity of his conviction or sentence, that court shall under this Rule transfer the cause to the court where the petitioner was convicted or sentenced, and the latter court shall treat it as a petition for relief under this Rule.

(d) A petition filed by a person who has been convicted or sentenced for a crime by a court of this state that seeks to require forensic DNA testing or analysis of any evidence, whether denominated as a petition filed pursuant to Ind. Code § 35-38-7-5 or not, is considered a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief.

(e) A petition seeking to present new evidence challenging the person’s guilt or the appropriateness of the person’s sentence, when brought by a person who has been sentenced to death and who has completed state post-conviction review proceedings, whether denominated as a petition filed pursuant to Ind. Code § 35-50-2-9(k) or not, is considered a Successive Petition for Post-Conviction Relief under Section 12 of this Rule.