PCR – Post Conviction Relief

Post conviction relief, or PCR, is usually the last avenue available to a person to challenge their conviction in state court. Persons seeking PCR often file the petition themselves and then are appointed counsel to represent them. PCR cases are appointed to lawyers on the civil appointment list, who may or may not be familiar with criminal law.

The most common claim in PCR is ineffective assistance of counsel. To prove ineffective assistance, the PCR attorney must show 1) that the trial attorney failed to render reasonable effective assistance under prevailing norms, and 2) that prejudice resulted from the trial lawyer's ineffective performance. Examples may include the trial attorney failing to object to inadmissible evidence, improper jury instructions, or outrageous arguments by the prosecution. When the trial attorney fails to object to trial court error, the appellate courts will not review the error and the only remedy is PCR. PCR can also be based on the trial attorney's failure to investigate the case or call essential witnesses.

PCR claims can also be based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction, an illegal or expired sentence, or after-discovered evidence. A PCR claim can be made based on prosecutorial misconduct, such as when the prosecutor or law enforcement withholds evidence that would have helped to prove your innocence.

In some cases, potential grounds for PCR are not readily apparent from the transcripts or discovery materials and can be found only through an independent investigation - if the defense lawyer did not conduct a thorough independent investigation prior to the plea or trial, there may be information, witnesses, or evidence that can be uncovered and that may be grounds for post conviction relief. 

There is a statute of limitations of one year from the date of conviction or from entry of the appellate decision, so it is important to contact a PCR lawyer without delay if you feel that you may have a PCR claim following your conviction. If you or a loved one may have a post conviction relief claim, call our Myrtle Beach office at 843-444-6122 or contact us online to find out if we can help.