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The Qualifications for Post-Conviction Relief

Feb. 20, 2021

It’s not unusual to hear incarcerated people realizing that they’ve rendered more jail time or paid more money for penalties than they need to. Are you or a loved one in the same situation? If yes, you can file for a post-conviction relief (PCR) motion to gather and present more evidence that could somehow change the verdict of your case. In this post, you’ll learn more about PCR motions, as well as when and how you qualify for one.

Post-Conviction Relief: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Post-conviction relief or PCR is a process that allows the accused individual in a criminal case to gather more proof or bring up additional concerns even after a verdict has been made. Yes, this is a post-trial motion. Unlike a direct appeal case, a PCR case is filed at the trial court. And this is usually done after the suspect loses a direct appeal case. The purpose of PCR is to address the unclear issues of the case.

The PCR case usually starts with a reading and assessment of transcripts, written materials, and other evidence from the trial proceedings. Then, an attorney will stand in witness. The victim may also be required to testify. The appellant has the right to speak up and deliver an impact statement in the court during hearings. If the motion is granted, the judge may give the appellant a new trial or process the modification of the court order or sentence to give the defendant a form of relief.

Types of Post-Conviction Relief Motions You Can File in Florida

So, how can you qualify for PCR?

A person can be qualified to file for a PCR motion for a lot of reasons as the qualification is largely based on the nature of the case. Specifically, in Florida, there are 8 types of PCR motions a defendant can qualify for.

  1. Rule 3.850 – Defendants can file for this PCR motion if there are changes to the law or if they have recently discovered new evidence that could play in favor of the accused individuals. Suspects can also file for this motion if they think and can prove that their legal counsel is ineffective in winning their case. Whichever is the case, the defendants have only up to 2 years from the conviction date to submit their motion.

  2. Rule 3.800(a) – This is the motion to file if you think you or a loved one has been served with an illegal sentence.

  3. Rule 3.853 – This motion could be filed to request for a DNA test, the result of which could exonerate the convicted individual. A Rule 3.853 motion may be filed after the date the sentence becomes final.

  4. Rule 3.800(c) – Do you think you’re bound to serve more jail time than necessary? If yes, you can file for this PCR motion to request the trial court to reduce the judgment you’ve previously received. This needs to be filed 60 days after the sentence has been finalized.

  5. Rule 3.802 – This PCR motion is for juvenile defendants who’ve been served with a lengthy sentence. After rendering a certain number of years, they can file for this PCR motion for review hearings.

  6. Rule 9.141 – Although this PCR type isn’t available for death penalty cases, this could be applied if you want to file:

  • appeals from post-conviction hearings of criminal procedures 3.853, 3.800(a), 3.801, 3.802, or 3.850

  • petitions seeking belated discretionary review

  • motions pointing out the ineffective support of appellate counsel

  1. Rule 3.801 – Rendered jail time in your county? If yes, your time there can be converted as jail credits. And if you’ve been served with a sentence that failed to consider your jail credit, you can file for a PCR motion under Rule 3.801 to correct the sentence.

  2. Federal Habeas Petition – With this petition, the claimants can challenge their conviction by stating that their constitutional rights have been violated. This can only be applied if the accused person has already exhausted all solutions available in the State courts.

Key Documents to Prepare for a Post-Conviction Relief Case

Do you think you’re qualified to file for one of the PCR types mentioned? If yes, don’t hesitate to contact a reliable legal counsel and prepare your case accordingly. Make sure to prepare the following key documents to support your claim:

  1. Charging information and related documents and filings – The Charging Information refers to the document with a list of your crimes and corresponding elements that needed to be proven without reasonable doubt. Plus, this includes the Probable Cause Affidavit, which contains the evidence used to obtain your warrant of arrest.

  2. Discovery – This includes any case-related data, such as pictures, audio files, witness statements, video recordings, and police reports gathered during or after the crime happened. It also helps to organize the evidence gathered before or after the trial.

  3. Pre-trial orders and motions – One good example is the Motion to Suppress, which your lawyer may have filed if you’ve given a statement before your arrest. Motion to change the venue, motion to dismiss, and motion to modify bail are other common pre-trial motions.

  4. The record – This refers to the “official” memory of your case proceedings. This is the word-for-word record of the trial as written by the court reporter. These documents could be used to prove if there are errors during the trial, which could be the basis for your PCR claim.

  5. After-trial materials – This refers to all the documents released after the trial, such as the State court decision, transfer petition, and appellate briefing.

Make sure to work closely with your legal counsel in collecting and assessing these documents to get a higher chance of winning your post-conviction relief motion.


Indeed, as its name implies, a post-conviction relief can give the defendants and their families some form of hope and respite if the suspect is wrongly accused or sentenced. So, don’t hesitate to file your case as it might shorten your jail time or lower your financial penalties. Or, you or your loved one might even be exonerated.

If you’re in Florida and are looking for legal support in filing for a PCR motion, you can rely on Attorney Tom McGuire and his team at Panhandle Defense Firm. Contact them to start working on your application.