Paving The Way To Justice

Cassandra Stamm
Paving The Way To Justice

What is a collateral attack to challenge a conviction?

On Behalf of | Jun 24, 2021 | Criminal Law

In Washington State, people who have been convicted of a criminal offense and are facing penalties because of it may want to think about their options to challenge the decision. This is not necessarily limited to appeals which are frequently based on some type of issue with the case such as prosecutorial misconduct, mistakes made by the judge, problems with the jury or new evidence that could result in the decision being overturned. There is also an option to lodge a collateral attack. This calls a certain aspect of the case into question, but is not directly challenging the case itself.

Examples and time limits for a collateral attack

There are laws with a collateral attack and they should be understood from the start. People can file a collateral attack based on personal restraint, a habeas corpus petition, a motion to vacate, a motion to withdraw a guilty plea, to ask for a new trial and for other reasons. A conviction that is deemed valid on its face cannot be appealed based on a collateral attack after one year has passed. The one-year limit may not be applicable in certain circumstances.

If, for example, there was evidence found that could call the conviction into question, then the one-year limit does not apply and the case can be challenged based on personal restraint. Other examples are if there was double jeopardy; the defendant issued a not guilty plea and the evidence was insufficient for conviction; there was an excessive sentence; or the law changed from the time of the conviction, the sentence or order. The defendant must also be informed of the time limit so he or she knows that a collateral attack must commence within that time-frame.

Professional representation can provide advice with collateral attacks

Appeals and post-conviction relief are options when there has been a criminal conviction. People facing jail time, fines and other consequences for any kind of criminal conviction should do whatever they can to lessen the harshness of the penalties, get a new trial or have the conviction overturned completely. A strategy to achieve that is a criminal appeal. If there are other factors that negatively impacted the merits of the case, a collateral attack could be an effective strategy for post-conviction relief. When weighing how to proceed, having help from professionals who are experienced in appealing and combating criminal convictions can be essential to try and reach a positive outcome.