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.

 
Differences between PCR, Appeal, and Motion To Vacate Sentence
 
Procedure Deadline To File When Applicable
PCR Generally, five years from the date the Judgment of Conviction is entered. The five-year deadline can sometimes be overcome. PCR applies to assert issues that were not raised at trial, and that are not part of the record below. For those reasons, PCR deals with issues that could not have been raised on direct appeal. Often the basis for PCR applications is ineffective assistance of counsel.
Appeal Forty-five days from the date the Judgment of Conviction is entered. Appeals challenge decisions of issues resolved adversely to the party taking the appeal.
Motion To Vacate
Guilty Plea
Rules of Court do not impose any deadline. However, the standards to grant motions to vacate guilty plea are much easier to meet when made before sentencing. Numerous possible grounds, including plea was entered involuntarily, or defendant failed to provide an adequate factual basis, or did not understand penal consequences, or plea was to a defective indictment.
 

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.

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 Post Conviction Relief 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.

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