We are New Jersey PCR Lawyers. “PCR” stands for Post Conviction Relief. Post Conviction Relief is one of several mechanisms by which a conviction can be vacated. Two other mechanisms by which a conviction can be removed are appeals, and motions to vacate a plea.
PCR, appeals, and motions to vacate a plea all have something in common: When successful, a conviction is nullified. Upon completion of the process, depending upon many factors, either the case goes away completely, or the original charges are reinstated. However, differences between the three procedures exist. Thus it is necessary to choose the procedure most applicable to the situation.
PCR applications can be filed after a guilty plea, and they can also be filed after a trial. PCR applications can be filed while the defendant is serving a jail or prison sentence. They can also be filed after a sentence has been completed. State of New Jersey v. Roper, 362 N.J. Super. 248 (App. Div., 2003) established that principle. Willie Roper had ten indictable convictions before his conviction on the matter for which he sought PCR. The trial judge held that a PCR hearing would be a waste of the court's time. The Appellate Division disagreed. That court held that the conviction for which PCR was sought could affect sentences on future convictions. As such, the trial court was obliged to consider the PCR application.
Probably the asserted basis for most PCR applications is ineffective assistance of counsel. Ineffective assistance of counsel forms a basis for having a conviction set aside under both New Jersey and federal constitutional law. For an ineffective assistance of counsel argument to succeed, the PCR applicant must establish two things. The first is that counsel's performance was substandard; and that counsel's inadequate performance prejudiced the defendant. Counsel's substandard performance need not have been at trial itself; it could have been at pretrial preparation. For example, counsel may have failed to conduct an adequate investigation. Or counsel may have failed to challenge an illegal search and seizure of evidence.
Allan Marain and Norman Epting are experienced New Jersey PCR lawyers. They have been representing persons charged with crimes for more years than most people reading this page have been alive. They know their way around. If you believe PCR might possibly help you, call them. They would welcome the opportunity to review your situation.