What Can I Do After My Attorney Screwed Up My Criminal Case?
It’s a fact of life. Sometimes attorneys screw up. If you have a criminal case where your attorney screwed up, you may still have some options.
Pleas: If you entered a plea to criminal charges, you might want to first check out whether you can withdraw your plea. Under Criminal Rule 3.850(a)(5), you might be able to argue that your plea wasn’t made voluntarily because your attorney misadvised you about something that would happen after your plea, or that your attorney failed to tell you everything you needed to know. If you wanted to file such a motion, you’d basically be saying that you wouldn’t have entered the plea to the charges if your attorney gave you all the correct information you needed to know. Generally, these kinds of motions have to be filed within 2 years of your judgment and sentence.
Sentence: If you think there was something wrong with the sentence you got, you might want to look filing a motion to correct the sentence under Criminal Rule 3.800. Maybe the prosecutor made a mistake on your scoresheet calculation and your attorney didn’t catch it. Or maybe the sentence was illegal for some other reason, and your attorney didn’t catch that either. Or maybe you weren’t given enough credit for all the time you’ve spent in jail, and your attorney didn’t take care of it. Motions to correct illegal sentences can be filed at any time.
Appeal: For the most part, appeals are not supposed to address mistakes that you think your attorney made at trial. But, if your attorney’s mistake was really obvious, the court might find that the mistake can be addressed on appeal. Generally, notices of appeal have to be filed within 30 days of the day you were sentenced.
After appeal: Even after your appeal is done, your case might be able to go on. If you think your attorney screwed up at trial, then you might want to file a motion based on Criminal Rule 3.850. In these kinds of motions, (sometimes called “3850′s,” motions for post conviction relief, or habeas motions), you basically point the finger at your attorney, and say that you only got convicted because your attorney screwed up. These motions have to be filed within 2 years of your conviction.
Belated Appeal: Let’s say you asked your attorney to file a notice of appeal, and he or she didn’t. Are you out of luck? Nope! You might be able to file a motion asking the court to let you file an appeal late. It’s called a petition for belated appeal, and it’s allowed under Appellate Rule 9.141.