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Initia Lettau, Acting Chief Attorney

Office of the Public Defender
Post Conviction Defenders Division 
217 E. Redwood Street, Suite 1020 
Baltimore, MD 21202
410-209-8600

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Post Conviction Defenders Division | Frequently Asked Questions

What is a "Post Conviction"?

Persons convicted in a Maryland state court and are presently serving a sentence, or on parole or probation as a result of the conviction, may pursue post conviction relief. (Uniform Post Conviction Procedure Act, Maryland Code, Criminal Procedure, §7-101). Post conviction relief is available to persons who pled guilty or were convicted by a jury or a judge. Each qualifying person is entitled to counsel and one hearing in the circuit court where the client was convicted. (Uniform Post Conviction Procedure Act, Maryland Code,Criminal Procedure, §7-108) A judge (other than the judge that presided at the original trial or plea) will be appointed to hold a hearing and issue a ruling.

The most common allegation pursued in post conviction proceedings is that the client did not receive effective assistance of counsel at trial, sentencing,post-sentencing, or for a guilty plea or violation of probation hearing. Other potential allegations include: involuntary plea, prosecutorial misconduct, etc. Remedies may include: new trial, new sentencing, correction of sentence, and permission to file belated post-trial motions.

Typically, post conviction hearings are held after an appeal has been decided in a case. However, the failure to pursue an appeal after a conviction does not necessarily preclude a person from pursuing post conviction relief.

Post conviction hearings are held in the circuit court where the client was convicted.  A judge (other than the judge that presided at the original trial or plea) will be appointed to hold a hearing and issue a ruling.

Do I qualify for post conviction relief and representation?

In order to qualify for post conviction relief, the client must be serving a sentence of incarceration,or on parole or probation for that conviction. (UniformPost Conviction Procedure Act, Maryland Code, Criminal Procedure, §7-101)

A petition must be filed in the circuit court where the client was convicted within 10 years from the date of sentencing.  However, if the client was sentenced prior to October 1, 1995, there is no deadline in which to file the petition. (Uniform Post Conviction Procedure Act, Maryland Code, Criminal Procedure, §7-103)

You have the right to one post conviction hearing per conviction.  If you have already had a post conviction that was denied, you do not have the automatic right to another hearing on any subsequently filed post conviction petitions. You also do not have the right to counsel to represent you on subsequent post convictions.

If your appeal is currently pending before the Court of Special Appeals or the Court of Appeals,you are not entitled to post conviction counsel until the appeal has been concluded. (Uniform Post Conviction Procedure Act, Maryland Code, Criminal Procedure, §7-108).

Persons who are incarcerated may apply to Post Conviction Defenders for legal representation in filing a post conviction petition. Incarcerated individuals automatically qualify for post conviction services. Persons who are not incarcerated,but are on parole and/or probation, may also apply for legal representation, but have to qualify for services depending on income and other factors.

You may file a post conviction petition on your own, or apply to Post Conviction Defenders Division to have an attorney file a petition for you. If you decide to file the petition yourself, you are still entitled to legal representation from this office,which entails reviewing your case, adding other potential issues if necessary,and representation at any future hearing.

How to Apply

If you are requesting post conviction or extradition assistance, you may contact Post Conviction Defenders either by letter or phone and request that an application and administrative fee agreement be sent to you.  

If you file your own petition, but would still like representation from our office, the Clerk of the Court will send us a copy of your petition as soon as it has been filed.  We will then contact you and provide you with the necessary forms. It is not necessary to apply to our office before filing your petition.   

NOTES:

If you are requesting representation for a parole revocation hearing, it is not necessary that you apply to our office. At your preliminary parole revocation hearing, request to be represented by an attorney.  The hearing will be postponed to a future date, and an attorney from our office will automatically be assigned to represent you at the upcoming hearing.

If you are requesting representation for other proceeding, such as writ of error coram nobis, state habeas corpus, or motion to reopen post conviction proceedings,please write a detailed letter (and send it to the address on the right side of this page) explaining the details of your conviction and the issues you wish to present.  Be sure to provide any appropriate court documentation and/or transcripts that substantiate your claims.  Please know that representation on these motions is discretionary and you are not automatically entitled to representation from this office.

Maryland’s Uniform Post Conviction Procedure Act

How to File Your Own Post Conviction Petition

100 Attorneys - Pro Bono Initiative

Youth Resentencing Project

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