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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What is Post-Conviction Relief (PCR)?

Post-Conviction Relief, or PCR for short, is all of the legal actions taken once a verdict (finding of guilt) and judgment (sentence) is entered. It can range from post-trial motions, a direct appeal, and habeas corpus.

Iowa law provides several avenues for relief. The predominant state is Iowa Code section 822. The relevant sections can be found by entering 822 at this link:

The basic provisions mandate that a convicted defendant has three years from the date his convictionis final (by judgment or direct appeal) to file a PCR application challening a sentence and conviction on the grounds it was illegally entered or is unconstitutional.

A standard form is available for preparing the application and is available from

However, preparing and litigating a proper PCR is not as easy as filling in the blanks and filing the form. Perhaps the most important aspect of a proper PCR action is identifying the issues at hand, gleaning the facts from the trial record and extrinsic sources, and putting them together with the right post-conviction cases in your arguments.

If you are intending on filing a PCR action your best bet is to retain an attorney. But don't just start calling lawyers from the phonebook. Look online at recent cases and call the names you see and read the most as PCR counsel. These are the attorneys that are going to get you the best relief possible. They are experienced at the work and will put your interests at heart.

If you need assistance in locating a good PCR attorney, I can refer you to some that I know will do the work and give you the best product for your dollars.

C. Smith-LMC

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