Petitions For Certificates Of Innocence
Despite the best efforts of the justice system, many people in Illinois are convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. Even after trial and appeal, innocent people sometimes end up being convicted and imprisoned. Even after serving an unfair prison sentence, innocent people live with the aftermath of a wrongful conviction. A criminal record may affect their ability to secure a job, get a loan or own a legal firearm.
Fortunately, there are laws that provide remedies for people who have been wrongly convicted. If you have been convicted on charges of a felony you did not commit, you may be able to pursue a Certificate of Innocence.
What Is A Certificate Of Innocence?
A Certificate of Innocence is a powerful form of post-conviction relief. If you were wrongfully convicted of a crime, a Certificate of Innocence can both remove the conviction from your record and indicate that you never should have had a record at all.
A Petition for Certificate of Actual Innocence is also an important first step toward justice for the wrongly convicted. If the petition is granted, the wrongly convicted person can bring a claim for damages against the state. No amount of financial compensation can truly make a wrongful conviction right, but monetary damages can help an innocent person reclaim their life and move forward.
What Is Required To Prove Innocence?
According to the Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act, anyone who has been wrongfully convicted for at least one felony and sentenced to prison can bring a Petition for Certificate of Innocence. To succeed, they must prove that they were innocent by a preponderance of the evidence – or that the available evidence indicates the person is more likely innocent than not.
There are several situations that may give rise to a claim of actual innocence:
- An appeals court reverses a trial court’s decision and orders a new trial, which the prosecution failed to retry
- An appeals court orders a new trial and the convicted person is found not guilty in the new trial
- The law that the person was convicted on is found unconstitutional
- New evidence comes to light that demonstrates the person’s innocence
Get Help With Post-Conviction Relief. Schedule A Free Consultation.
If you think you may be eligible to file a post-conviction petition, contacting the Law Office of Stephen L. Richards promptly is the most effective way to evaluate your options and determine whether you have a case. In our 35 years of criminal defense experience, we have helped many people secure record expungement, Certificates of Innocence and other legal relief.