A New York post-conviction Criminal Procedure Law (CPL) 440 motion allows a defendant to ask the court to vacate a judgment against him or her or to re-open the case. Because filing a post-conviction CPL 440 motion is complicated, it is crucial to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney.
At CDH Law PLLC, our attorneys are highly skilled at filing CPL 440 motions. If you’re concerned about a criminal conviction, or you’ve recently received a criminal conviction, we can help. Our experienced Syracuse criminal defense attorneys know how to evaluate criminal trials and find any legal errors that took place. When filing a post-conviction CPL 440 motion is in order, our attorneys know how to argue the motion effectively. Contact our Syracuse law firm today to learn how our attorneys can help defend your rights throughout the process.
What is a CPL 440 motion?
The purpose of a CPL 440 motion is to vacate the defendant’s criminal conviction or to re-open the criminal case because of a legal error. Typically, defendants file post-conviction CPL 440 motions in the lower court after sentencing in a criminal trial. Defendants may submit CPL 440 motions before or after perfecting a full appeal to the higher court. The most common claim made in a CPL 440 motion is that the court did not protect the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to the effective assistance of counsel.
How are these different from appeals?
New York criminal procedure law allows defendants to challenge the legality of a criminal sentence or conviction after it has been entered by the court. A CPL 440 motion is different than an appeal to the appellate court. Defendants submit the CPL 440 motion to the trial court, not the appellate court. Further, the purpose of a 440 motion is to make the trial court aware of facts not contained in the trial court record. Strategically, a defendant may submit a CPL 440 motion to expand the facts in the record before submitting a full appeal with the appellate court.
Timeline for Submitting a CPL 440 Motion
New York criminal defendants can submit a CPL 440 motion at any time after the conviction. However, filing a CPL 440 motion as soon as possible is advantageous. The longer a defendant waits to raise a legal issue in a CPL 440 motion, the weaker the motion may appear in court. At CDH Law PLLC, our attorneys help clients evaluate whether filing a CPL 440 motion is appropriate and, if it is necessary, we determine the most advantageous time to file the motion.
Contents of a Post-Conviction 440 Motion
Each 440 motion will contain information unique to the specific issues of the case. After reviewing the court record and all of the details in the case, the attorneys at CDH Law PLLC draft 440 motions, which should include the following elements:
- A notice of the motion
- An affirmation from the defendant’s attorney who is filing the motion
- Any relevant documents from the trial, such as the indictment or the complaint
- The transcripts of the court proceedings
- An affirmation from the trial attorney, if necessary
- A memorandum of law stating why the court should grant the motion
- Any other affidavits or documentation supporting the claim being made in the motion
Legal Grounds for Filing a Post-Conviction 440 Motion
The CPL 440 statute lists many legal grounds for filing a CPL 440 motion, including the following:
- The court did not have jurisdiction
- The state induced the plea deal by fraud
- The defendant was legally incompetent at the time of the plea deal
- The defendant did not make the guilty plea knowingly and intelligently
- Errors occurred during the trial which were not made clear in the record
- The state violated the defendant’s federal or state constitutional rights
- Relief from deportation via a judge vacating the sentence
When the court receives the post-conviction CPL 440 motion, it either denies the motion, grants the motion and vacates the conviction, or orders an evidentiary hearing to further explore the factual assertions made and rule on any issues of fact raised by the motion. By vacating the judgment, the court makes the judgment legally void. Typically, appellate courts vacate the judgment of lower district courts. However, defendants file post-conviction CPL 440 motions in the lower trial courts of New York. When granted, 440 motions allow trial courts to vacate their own judgments.
Preparing to File
At CDH Law PLLC, we take our clients’ legal issues extremely seriously. When we consider filing a post-conviction 440 motion, we thoroughly investigate the specifics of the case. We review all of the relevant transcripts, including transcripts of the trial, plea, or sentencing. We also investigate the files of the attorney who represented the client through the plea deal or sentencing. If necessary, our attorneys request the court’s and the prosecution’s files through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. We also seek a debrief from the defendant and any relevant witnesses. We use a private investigator if necessary. Finally, we use our in-depth knowledge of New York criminal law to analyze the issue and determine the best legal claims to put forth in the 440 motion.
What Happens If a 440 Motion Is Denied?
When a judge denies a 440 motion, the defendant can appeal in narrow circumstances. Before appealing the denial, the defendant must request permission to submit an appeal from a judge in a New York appellate court. Defendants must file appeals within 30 days of receiving notice that a judge denied their 440 motion. When an appellate judge grants the request to appeal the 440 motion, the defendant must submit a full appeal. Defendants must include a compilation of the court record and file the briefs for a whole appeal.
Our Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Help
If a criminal court has convicted you, a post-conviction 440 motion may be possible in your case. Our attorneys can help you determine the best strategy for your case going forward. Contact the skilled criminal defense attorneys at CDH Law PLLC to discuss how we can help you with post-conviction proceedings.