Post-conviction relief in Florida, Part 1
BackgroundPost-conviction relief refers to certain motions made under the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure after sentence is handed down. They are separate from appeals, and designed to address things that appeals do not, such as new evidence. There is also generally no right to a public defender or other appointed counsel.
3.800(a)Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.800(a) allows the court to correct an illegal sentence, incorrect sentencing scoresheet calculation, or improper calculation of time served at any time. The defendant must affirmatively allege that court records show cause for relief. In other words, the defendant must discover something wrong with their sentence, and prove it only by using evidence available in the trial records. Denial of this motion gives the defendant 30 days to appeal.
3.800(b)Like 3.800(a), Rule 3.800(b) allows the court to correct a sentencing error. The difference is that a 3.800(b) motion stops rendition of the trial court's sentence. It also freezes in place any appeal until after the disposal of the motion. This creates a balancing act, where the defendant must weigh whether he wants to delay execution of sentence or accelerate the appeals process.
3.800(c)Rule 3.800(c) allows the sentencing judge to reduce or modify his sentence at his own discretion. Unlike 3.800(a) and 3.800(b), there is no way for a defendant to show that he has a right to relief- any change is at the judge's discretion. Time limits are important. A defendant must file a 3.800(c) motion:
Within 60 days of imposition of sentence, OR
Within 60 days of the sentencing court's receipt of an appellate court's affirmation of judgment or sentence on the first appeal, OR
Within 60 days of receipt by the sentencing court of an appellate court's dismissal of the appeal, OR
If the defendant seeks higher appellate review within 60 days of the higher courts disposition of the case.
Also, note that 3.800(c) only applies to sentences where the judge has discretion in sentencing. Mandatory minimums and the like are not eligible for 3.800(c) relief.