FAQ: Rule 37 Petition

What is a Rule 37 Petition?

  • A petition based upon Arkansas Rule of Criminal Procedure 37, which typically argues that you received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial.

When do I file a Rule 37 Petition?

  • Within 90 days of the conviction if you do not appeal.
  • Within 60 days of the appeal being affirmed if you do appeal.

Where do I file it?

  • With the circuit court where your trial was held.

What is the process for a Rule 37 Petition?

  • After you file your petition, the circuit court will determine if you assert claims that might entitle you to a new trial.
  • If the court believes you may have some valid claims it will set your petition for a hearing where you may call witnesses and/or argue to the court.
  • After the hearing you will have a chance to amend your petition to conform to the evidence at the hearing.
  • The circuit court will then either grant the petition and give you a new trial or deny the petition.

What are typical arguments?

  • Almost all petitions argue ineffective assistance of counsel.  They are aimed at showing that your trial counsel failed to do their job properly. You must convince the court that if you had proper representation then you might not have been convicted.
  • Successful arguments may include:  failure to sever the charges, failure to interview witnesses, failure to investigate the case, failure to communicate plea offers, failure to file a motion to suppress, failure to file a motion for rape shield hearing, failure to object to prejudicial or inadmissible testimony, and failure to prepare the defendant for trial.

Can I appeal the circuit court’s denial of my Rule 37 Petition?

  • Yes, the rules allow for an appeal directly to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

What is the likelihood of success?

  • The likelihood varies based upon many factors.   The odds are certainly not in your favor; however, they can be greatly enhanced if you  hire an experienced post-conviction attorney.

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