Every defendant in Illinois who is convicted of a criminal offense has the right to appeal the conviction in an intermediate appellate court. If an appeal at the intermediate level is unsuccessful, a defendant may request a second appeal, this time in front of the Supreme Court of Illinois. However, the Supreme Court of Illinois is not obligated to hear appeals, and usually only does so when a case involves legal issues that have received different rulings by two or more intermediate courts.
If the Supreme Court of Illinois refuses to hear an appellate case, or if an appeal is unsuccessful at that level, an individual can request an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. As you might imagine, these requests are approved even less frequently than appeals to the state Supreme Court.
Another Appeal Option
A post-conviction hearing is yet another means of appealing a conviction. It may be used by an individual who is currently being held in a state prison who feels that constitutional errors were made at an initial trial or at appeal that deprived him or her of a fundamental constitutional right. If you have been convicted of a crime, the Illinois Post-Conviction Hearing Act allows you to seek a new trial, correct sentencing errors, obtain a habeas corpus writ due to ineffective legal counsel, or request a pardon.
The court is not obligated to accept a request for a post-conviction hearing. It must be shown that your rights under the state or the U.S. Constitution were denied during your original trial. That is why it is critical to work with a criminal defense attorney who has experience with the post-conviction relief process.
It is important to be aware of time limits for requesting post-conviction relief or you may miss your opportunity to do so. A petition must be filed prior to the earliest of these dates:
- Three years after your date of conviction
- Six months after the deadline for filing a petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois State Supreme Court (or six months after the deadline for filing a petition if one is not filed)
- 45 days after the filing of a brief before Illinois Supreme Court (or 45 days after the deadline for filing one if one is not filed)
If you miss the filing deadline that applies to you, you may still be able to seek post-conviction relief if you are able to show the delay was not a direct result of your negligence. For example, if new facts in your case reveal that your constitutional rights were not protected come to light after a deadline has passed, you can use this information to file a petition.
Meet With an Experienced Illinois Post-Conviction Relief Attorney
If you have questions regarding post-conviction relief for you or a loved one who was convicted of a crime and is now being held in a state prison, call Godoy Law Office in Chicago or use our online contact form to schedule a consultation.