Rule 32 Petition Based on Double Jeopardy Is Not Barred by the Statute of Limitations

Just because you’ve been convicted of a crime does not that it is the end of the road for you. A Rule 32 petition allows for a post-conviction relief.

However, this rule is subject to very harsh requirements. Particularly, in order to seek out a Rule 32 petition one must prove either of the follow:

  • Sentence is unconstitutional.
  • Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case.
  • Newly discovered evidence or facts that would have led to a different outcome.
  • Not adequately represented by counsel.

An example of a successful Rule 32 petition is seen in the case of Canyon v. State of Alabama which arises out a criminal proceeding in Etowah County, Alabama.

In 2015, James Canyon (“Canyon”) filed a Rule 32, Ala. R. Crim. P. Petition challenging his 2001 guilty plea convictions for third-degree burglary, first-degree theft of property, second-degree theft of property, and possession of a forged instrument which in total resulted in a 20-year consecutive sentence. Canyon contends that his charge of first-degree theft of property and second-degree theft of property arose out of the same acts, facts, and circumstances; therefore, one of his convictions should be vacated and the circuit court should enter a new judgment.

A Rule 32 motion, commonly referred to as post-conviction remedy, is a method for a defendant to challenge their conviction in a trial court. A Rule 32 motion gives the trial court an avenue to remedy a conviction if it is unjust. Generally, a Rule 32 motion is filed when new evidence is discovered or if there has been a constitutional violation at the trial level.

Canyon alleges that his constitutional rights have been violated. Specifically, Canyon alleges that he has been convicted of the same charge twice; therefore, his protection from double jeopardy has been infringed on. Double jeopardy forbids a defendant from being tried twice for the same or similar charge following an acquittal or conviction.

Following the filing of the Rule 32 Motion, the trial court issued an order finding that Canyon’s claims could have been, but were not, raised at trial or on appeal, and that his petition was barred by Rule 32.2(c). Rule 32.2(c) limits the time that one can seek a post-conviction remedy. Particularly, Rule 32.2(c) only allows for a post-conviction motion to be filed within 1 year after the judgment was entered. Canyon appealed arguing that his motion should not have been dismissed because his petition was not barred by Rule 32.2(c).

Here, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals noted that because the issue here is double jeopardy is jurisdictional, it can be reviewed at anytime and is not barred by Rule 32.2(c).

The state alleged that because the pistol was taken from the victim during the course of the burglary that it was the basis for the second-degree theft of property charge, while the other “specifically stated items” taken from the victim’s home were the basis for the first-degree theft of property. However, the appellate court did not agree.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals held that the convictions of the second and first- degree theft of property violated the notions of double jeopardy. Specifically, the appellate court noted that all the items were taken from the victim at the same time and that there should not have been two theft of property convictions.

A Rule 32 petition may be able to provide you with relief. However, a Rule 32 petition is an intricate motion that contains many rigid limitations and requires an experienced attorney’s knowledge.

If you were not adequately represented, new evidence has been discovered, or believe that your constitutional rights have been violated in a previous criminal proceeding seek out a skilled criminal defense attorney’s expertise to see if you can file a Rule 32 petition.

Contact criminal appellate attorney Joseph A. Ingram at (205) 236-3997.

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