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Personal Restraint Petition

If you are confined in a Washington state prison – or if you have been convicted of a crime or civil charge for which imprisonment is pending – you have the option of not only appealing your conviction in a Washington appellate court, but also of filing a personal restraint petition. The purpose of a personal restraint petition is to have a different Washington state court from the one that convicted you review your trial record to determine whether your federal or state constitutional rights were violated in a way that prejudiced you and led to an unlawful restraint in the form of imprisonment or pending imprisonment.

You may file a personal restraint petition even if your appeals have run out, although you should act to file the personal restraint petition as soon as possible, as you only have a limited amount of time after your conviction or your last unsuccessful appeal to file the petition. A personal restraint petition, when successful, can lead to your release – even before the petition is ultimately decided upon by the court – but you must show compelling evidence that your rights were violated.

At The Appellate Law Firm, we represent inmates and those facing imprisonment in Washington in collecting the necessary evidence to support a personal restraint petition, filing the petition, and arguing in front of the deciding court in favor of their release from unlawful restraint.

What Washington Courts Look For in a Personal Restraint Petition

A Washington personal restraint petition must contain, among other things,  the following information:

  • Status of the Petitioner: This includes information about the current location of the petitioner (i.e. a state prison), the court action that led to the confinement, and other court action that has been taken with regard to the confinement.
  • Grounds for Relief: This is the petitioner’s argument for why his or her confinement is unlawful pursuant to the federal or Washington constitution.
  • Citation to Court Documents: If there is information in previous court records to support the grounds for relief, citations to those records must be included in the petition.
  • Request for Relief: This is the relief that the petitioner is requesting, e.g. to be released from confinement.
  • Oath: A statement that the information presented in the petition is made truthfully.

The critical aspect of the petition is the grounds for relief. Should you work with our office, we will comprehensively review the trial record as well as any other relevant materials to determine whether you were prejudiced at your trial by constitutional errors made by police officers, prosecutors, a presiding judge, jurors, or any other relevant parties. Such grounds might include, among others:

  • Ineffective trial counsel on your behalf
  • Unconstitutional jury selection
  • Withholding of evidence by prosecutors
  • Unconstitutional police procedures such as illegal searches and seizures and illegally obtained confessions
  • Errors made by your trial judge

The petition must contain facts which support the assertion of constitutional error and actual prejudice that resulted from the error, and cannot simply be unsupported allegations, but our team can work with you to collect any such facts and present them in a compelling manner in your petition.

Legal Assistance With Your Washington Personal Restraint Petition

If you received an unfair outcome in a Washington state criminal or civil matter and are currently imprisoned or facing imprisonment, The Appellate Law Firm may be able to help in filing a personal restraint petition on your behalf. If you are considering filing a petition – or if you are interested in filing an appeal – feel free to contact Mr. Parker today for a no obligation 30 minute consultation.

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