The fight is not over after conviction. Many clients can get relief from criminal consequences or release from prison even after they are convicted by way of trial or guilty plea.
After a case is completed in a trial court, you may be able to appeal to the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court. Appellate advocacy involves specialized skills that are very different from trial skills. It is important to hire an attorney who has experience winning in appellate courts.
This process takes time, and most appeals can take 1-2 years until a final decision is made by the appellate court. All appeals are handled by electronic filing, after obtaining the trial court record. Therefore, Gause Law Offices handles appeals cases from all over Washington State.
There are three divisions of the Court of Appeals in Washington State. Division I is in Seattle, Division II is in Tacoma, and Division III is in Spokane. Once you have received a decision from the Court of Appeals that governs your trial court, you may seek review from the Washington State Supreme Court.
Types of Post-Conviction Relief:
- Criminal Appeal: Anyone convicted of a crime has the right to ask the Court of Appeals to review the case and reverse the conviction, remand the case back to the trial court for a new trial, or reduce the sentence. The appellant (previously called defendant) must show that a legal error occurred either in the pretrial phase, at trial, or at sentencing. An appeal must be based on the record, which means that you may only raise issues that were already heard in court. Some common appeal issues are: ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, improper admission of evidence, improper exclusion of evidence, and improper jury instructions. You must file a notice of appeal within 30 days of the judgment (sentencing). A person is entitled to a public defender for their criminal appeal, but may also choose to hire a private attorney. Click here learn more about a criminal appeal to the Washington State Court of Appeals
- Petition for Review: If you do not prevail with the Court of Appeals, you may file a petition to the Washington State Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals decision. The Supreme Court will use discretion to decide whether to accept review of the case. The Court considers whether the Court of Appeal decision conflicts with another case, whether the case presents a significant constitutional question that must be resolved, or whether the issue is of substantial public interest. Click here to learn more about a petition for review to the Washington State Supreme Court
- Personal Restraint Petition:
A personal restraint petition must be filed within one year after his conviction become “final.” RCW 10.73.090. This usually means one year after the mandate is filed in a Court of Appeals case.
A big difference between a criminal appeal and a personal restraint petition is that an appellant is not limited to the trial court record. That means that a person may present new evidence. This often requires hiring an investigator to conduct a new investigation and reviewing the initial discovery that was likely not made a part of the record at trial. In some cases, exculpatory evidence is discovered that was not used at trial. This can result in dismissal or reversal if it was suppressed by the government (what is called a Brady violation) or not presented by your trial attorney (ineffective assistance of counsel). Click here to learn more about a personal restraint petition
- Vacating a Criminal Conviction
A criminal record can impact your options for employment, housing, and school. If you have successfully completed all conditions of your sentence, including paying any legal financial obligations, then you may be eligible to have your conviction vacated (also referred to as “expunged”). Click here to read a legal guide written by Emily M. Gause on vacating criminal records
- Sealing a Criminal Record
It is not easy or common to be able to seal a criminal court record, but it can be done. Sealing is governed by GR 15.
Gause Law Offices has been successful in sealing court records in every attempt in the last 3 years. A satisfied client shares their experience with Gause Law Offices in getting a criminal record sealed below:
- Restoring Gun Right
After a specific time period, you may be eligible to restore your right to possess a gun. Gun rights are stripped away after any domestic violence convictions, some misdemeanor convictions, and all felony convictions. If you qualify, the process is relatively simple.
- Sex Offender Registration Removal
For some offenses, the requirement to register as a sex offender will go away automatically after a number of years. For other offenses, however, you must file a petition to request removal of this requirement. For adult offenses, you can ask the Court to remove this requirement in as little as 10 years.
It is important to hire an attorney for this process, as there are important laws and important factors to present to the judge to have the best possible chance of relief.
Gause Law Offices has successfully overturned convictions in the Court of Appeals, resulting in her clients’ immediate release from prison. Read about one such case below:
September 13, 2016
Today, the Court of Appeals, Division II, granted Emily M. Gause's personal restraint petition (PRP), reversing her client’s convictions.
Her 64-year-old client is permanently disabled due to a leg amputation and is terminally ill. In recent months, it appeared as though he might die in prison in the next year due to worsening of his conditions. Now, he can live out the rest of his life at his home, with his family, like he deserves.
The story behind his convictions is a true example of injustice:
One night several years ago, her client stopped taking his medications, flushing them all down the toilet. Within days, he began to suffer severe withdrawals, making him delusional and suicidal. He eventually armed himself with a gun threatening to kill himself.
Worried for his safety, his caretaker called police, hoping they could calm him down.
Police arrived, surrounded his home with guns, and demanded that he come out. Disoriented and in his own home, he told the strangers to get off his property. He demanded them to leave and allegedly told them he would shoot them if they didn't. Eventually, he realized they were police officers, calmed down, and came out of his home peacefully. He was immediately arrested, and charged with felonies and four firearm enhancements. He never shot at anyone. He simply told strangers to leave while he was inside his house.
Instead of recognizing her client's mental health issues, prosecutors decided to punish them. He was eventually convicted and sentenced. At the age of 60, this was his first felony, but the judge still sentenced him to 10 years, the maximum under the law.
Because of this win, he will not have to serve the remaining sentence of over six years and can live the rest of his life as a free man.
POST-CONVICTIONS legal needs Include
- Criminal Appeals
- Petitions for Review
- Personal Restraint Petitions
- Vacating a criminal conviction
- Sealing a criminal record
- Restoring gun rights
- Sex offender registration removal