Sometimes, innocent people plead guilty. Sometimes, innocent people are convicted for a judge or jury.
I get frequent phone calls from people who want to know, sometimes years later, whether they can “expunge” their records (probably not, in most cases) or have their conviction overturned.
Prior to 2018, the veracity of a plea of guilty couldn’t be contested during Post-Conviction Relief (PCR) proceedings — defendants could only argue about whether their plea had been “knowing and voluntary.” Under federal law, defendants aren’t entitled to raise claims of actual innocence on PCR if there’s a State way to provide for pardons. (Good luck getting a pardon in Iowa — only ~3-10% of applications for pardons tend to get approved in any given year.)
In 2018, however, the Schmidt v. State opinion determined that under the Iowa Constitution, defendants have a right to make a “freestanding claim of actual innocence.”
Iowa Code 822.2(1)(d) isn’t exactly a panacea, but it’s something that the wrongly convicted can look to for the possibility of relief.
Were there material facts that weren’t presented and heard during your trial or criminal proceedings? Do you have evidence of those facts? Do those facts require throwing out your conviction or sentence “in the interest of justice?”
To win on a freestanding claim of actual innocence, you will have to prove “by clear and convincing evidence” that no reasonable fact-finder (judge or jury) could have convicted you if they had had all of the information. This is a high bar.
At trial, the State had to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If you apply for post-conviction relief and claim that you’re actually innocent, you now have to show your innocence instead of the State having to prove that you are guilty.
There’s a statute of limitations for three years unless there’s some reason you couldn’t have raised the issue within that period. “My attorney didn’t tell me about this” doesn’t extend the limitation.
Iowa Post Conviction Relief Attorney
We can help you apply to overturn your illegal conviction or sentence or to apply for Post-Cnviction Relief in Des Moines, Polk County, Ankeny, Ames, Johnston, West Des Moines, Waukee, Saylorville, Bondurant, Altoona, Clive, Grimes, Pleasant Hill, Story County, Boone County, Marshall County, Dallas County, Jasper County, Madison County, Warren County, Marion County, Wapello County, Davis County, Ottumwa, Bloomfield, Iowa City, Council Bluffs, and the rest of Iowa.
This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction. Reading this site doesn’t create an attorney-client relationship. If you want to talk to us about a Post Conviction Relief issue if you have new evidence that you are innocent even though you pled guilty or were convicted, please contact us at (515) 491 6128 and we’ll set up a time to talk.