OVERVIEW OF THE POST CONVICTION PROCESS
Post Conviction proceedings are attacks filed by criminal defendants in an attempt to overturn their conviction and/or sentence. It is a civil proceeding which is related to, but separate from the criminal case. They are frequently mislabeled as "appeals."
The right of a defendant to bring such a law suit arises under the guarantee found in
Article I, Section 5 of the Idaho Constitution of a person to seek habeas corpus relief. In common terms, the right to seek habeas corpus relief is the right of a person to argue that the process taken to incarcerate them was illegal. The two most common types of challenges involve people being held in mental institutions and people incarcerated on criminal offenses. Idaho has adopted the
Uniform Post-Conviction Procedures Act to structure habeas corpus proceedings involving a criminal defendant's challenge to their conviction or sentence. In addition, Idaho has a specialized post-conviction procedure for criminal defendants who have been sentenced to death, which is found in Idaho Code 19-2719.
Defendants also have the right to seek habeas corpus relief in federal court when the person alleges that their incarceration was brought about due to violations of the federal constitution. Some criminal defendants file a law suit in federal court seeking federal habeas corpus relief after an unsuccessful attempt to obtain state habeas corpus. There are rules that limit the ability of a federal court to hear issues that were not already raised in state court. Therefore, many defendants will post-conviction relief in state court first, then file in federal court second. This state-then-federal filing is one of many reasons why death-penalty cases are frequently drawn out for years.
Allegations that the conditions of a persons incarceration violate their constitutional rights cannot be challenged using the Uniform Post Conviction Procedures Act, but is processed under the
Idaho Habeas Corpus and Institutional Litigation Procedures Act.