Complete Guide to Post-Conviction Relief in California

There are a few legal channels that those convicted of a crime can use to seek post-conviction relief in California. See how the Law Office of Valery Nechay can help.

Understanding Post-Conviction Relief in California


Suppose you have been found guilty of a criminal offense. In that case, you might consider post-conviction relief in California, especially if you feel your charges were unfounded or your penalties were overly severe. 

A conviction in a California criminal court can be troublesome when you’re seeking a new job, enrolling in school, applying for bank loans, or housing. It can also affect gun ownership, voting rights, and relationships. 

In addition to the immediate ramifications, a conviction in a California criminal court can have lifelong consequences since it will remain on your criminal record. Unless you petition to have it removed, it won’t merely disappear over time. 

Many people feel that the outcome is unfair or that they were not adequately represented. Others believe that although they were guilty of a crime, the conviction should not have a continuing impact on their lives. Perhaps they were young and impressionable or otherwise felt driven by circumstances. 

These individuals have the option of seeking post-conviction relief. In some cases, post-conviction relief may be mandatory, but it remains discretionary in others. Fortunately, in many cases, relief may be available.


California Post-Conviction Relief Lawyers Can Help

When dealing with the aftermath of your case, a California post-conviction relief lawyer could help you pursue relief that may be available in your case. Reach out to a federal criminal defense lawyer to obtain the post-conviction relief you deserve.

What Is Post-Conviction Relief for a Criminal Offense?


After the trauma of a trial, many defendants wonder what post-conviction relief is, how it applies to them, whether they are eligible, and how they can get it. Generally, these are methods to overturn or modify convictions and expunge records and restore their rights.

The Law Office of Valery Nechay can help you obtain the following types of post-conviction or post-arrest relief:


  • Motion for “Compassionate Release” during Covid-19 Pandemic under the First Step Act
  • Penal Code 851.91 and 851.97 aka C.A.R.E. Act– Petition to Seal Arrest Records that Did Not Result in a Conviction
  • Penal Code 17b– Motion to Reduce Felony to Misdemeanor
  • Penal Code 1203.4– Expungement Motion 
  • Penal Code 1203.43– Clearing a Criminal Record after Completing Drug Treatment Diversionary Program 
  • Penal Code 1203.3– Motion to Terminate Probation Early
  • Proposition 64 that Decriminalizes the Possession of Marijuana and allows People with Convictions for this Former Crime to Expunge Their Criminal Records.
  • Proposition 47 Motion– Reclassification Motion Based on Change in Law
  • Penal Code 1473.7– Motion to Withdraw Plea
  • Penal Code 4852.01– Obtaining Certificate of Rehabilitation for Penal Code 290 Registrant Cases
  • Romero Motion to Strike Prior Strike 
  • Motion for Military Diversion
  • Motion to Recall Bench Warrant
  • Motion to Modify Protective Orders

Whatever your personal or professional reasons for having your conviction reduced or reversed, taking these measures can help you move on with your life.


What Is the Post-Conviction Process?

You realize you want to pursue having your criminal record adjusted, but you are unsure what the post-conviction process is and what it entails. Although a conviction is final after your appeal is denied or after the statute of limitations for filing the appeal passed, a few alternatives are still available.

As a first defense, your lawyer will likely argue that her client didn’t receive an experienced and effective representation when they plead guilty. If this doesn’t provide the basis for her request on your behalf, there are various other measures, including DNA testing, habeas corpus, and motions to vacate the guilty plea, among others.

It is important to note that you must file the request with the court within the specified timeframe. Otherwise, the court will refuse or dismiss your motion even if you have grounds for your request. Therefore, you should contact your post-conviction relief lawyer immediately.

Motion for Post-Conviction Relief in the State of CA


One standard method attorneys use to file a motion for post-conviction relief is a motion to vacate judgment. It allows you to withdraw a guilty or no-contest plea if you can show you didn’t realize what you agreed to at the time to ensure a fair trial.

An example is if you are a noncitizen defendant and your defense counsel didn’t explain the potential adverse immigration consequences like deportation. If, under Penal Code 1018 pc, the court grants a motion to nullify the plea, you can go to trial to negotiate another plea bargain.

If you are convicted, you may be able to file a Penal Code 1181 pc stating that your trial was biased or you received ineffective assistance. Since the court prefers to present itself as infallible, these motions are a little more challenging to get.


What Happens at a Post-Conviction Hearing?

Whether prior conviction or after, anything involving your case is complex with far-reaching consequences, and you may wonder, “What happens at a post-conviction hearing, and is it worth the effort?” Although this is a personal decision, for some, the notion of having a clean criminal record is worth the expenditure of time and money.

After a conviction, several aspects may come to light that could affect how your case would have gone, thereby opening a new trial to enter new evidence and witness testimony. Since there are specific and complex procedures for post-conviction relief, it is important to have a lawyer capable of efficiently navigating the legal system.

If the appeals process fails in California State court, filing a writ of habeas corpus is often the last resort of your legal team. It presents the argument that you were imprisoned illegally due to serious mistakes. If granted, you should be immediately released.

Whether you require a white-collar criminal defense lawyer or a criminal defense attorney for an assault conviction, Valery Nechay is prepared to help you right the wrong.

How to Get Post-Conviction Relief in the State of California

When initiating post-conviction relief in the state of California, your counsel will conduct an interview, review your case’s circumstances for eligibility for sentence reduction or a full governor’s pardon. Upon weighing the likelihood of success, she will formulate and file your motion and then litigate it in court.  

If you are deemed wrongfully convicted, your citizenship rights will be reinstated.


How Long Does a Post-Conviction Relief Take?


For those wondering how long a post-conviction relief takes, it depends on which method your attorney recommends based on the post-conviction relief options you are eligible for. Still, it generally takes one or more years. 

There are several options Valery Nechay may consider.

  • Defendants convicted of a wobbler felony can request a re-sentencing to reduce their sentence to a misdemeanor as long as they are compliant with all aspects of their sentence.
  • With two or fewer felony convictions, a defendant might be eligible for commutation, also called clemency, which reduces or drops the conviction. With over two felonies, it needs to be consented to by most California Supreme Court justices.
  • Eligible defendants may be able to petition for expungement upon the successful completion of their probation. If their conviction is expunged, it is like it never occurred. Those who did time in California State Prison for certain sex crimes involving children are ineligible. 
  • A Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR) is often the first step toward getting a Governor’s pardon and is only available to people convicted of certain crimes living incident-free for at least five years in CA. 
  • Unless the conviction is for domestic violence or a felony involving a deadly weapon, California defendants may be able to get their gun rights restored. This is generally done by reducing their initial charges to a misdemeanor or a pardon from the Governor.
  • Juvenile records aren’t automatically sealed when the offender turns 18. Since these appear negative to potential employers, it is wise to begin having them sealed immediately.

Whether a reduced sentence or a commutation of your prison sentence is available, criminal cases might be reopened due to newly discovered evidence or changes in California Penal Code.

Is Post-Conviction Relief Worth it?


Before taking on the added expense and emotional turmoil, you might wonder whether post-conviction relief works. When making such a big decision, you need to realize that what worked for one defendant may not be successful in your case. That is why each case is unique and customized for the particulars. 

There are several factors that your lawyer may use in Superior Court to introduce reasonable doubt and get a previous conviction overturned, including: 

  • Criminal conviction due to ineffective legal representation
  • Ill-advised regarding Constitutional rights and plea agreement consequences
  • Convicted of a marijuana offense
  • Received a felony conviction that could be reduced to misdemeanor charges
  • Successful completion of your probation, but you were never imprisoned

It is wise to hire a post-conviction relief attorney as soon as your original case is over so you can avoid some of the long-term effects your criminal case may result in, such as criminal custody, early termination from your employment, or the stigma of registering as a sex offender. 


Do I Need a Post-Conviction Relief Lawyer?

After your initial trial is over, you may ask yourself, “Do I need a post-conviction relief lawyer?” Although you may feel overwhelmed, Valery Nechay can explain your post-conviction options so that you can make educated decisions regarding the next step in your case. 

If you are seeking post-conviction relief, contact California criminal defense lawyer Valery Nechay for a free consultation.


If you are under investigation or charged with a crime, I will consult with you in person and at no charge to you.