Time Limits to File a §2255 Appeal
A deeper discussion on this is below, but federal defendants only get one chance at file an appeal of this sort. Making it count is paramount. To do this, three hurdles must be overcome.
First, proper courthouse of jurisdiction must be established (meaning the appeal must be filed in the Court which did the sentencing, not the courthouse located in the prison’s jurisdiction). Second, the arguments made must be appropriate for a §2255 appeal. Third, the filing has to happen within the allowable time period for habeas-style petitions.
Unlike direct appeals, which must be filed within two weeks (normally) after the judgment of sentence, a §2255 Motion can be started within a 1 year time period. That is, the defendant must file this motion within one year of the latest of these four events:
- The date of final judgment;
- The date any obstacles to filing the motion by government action in violation of the constitution were removed;
- The date where the United States Supreme Court rules on a case which triggers an applicable argument to the prisoner;
- The date when triggering facts could have been discovered through research.
For clarification, in the first bullet above, a judgment becomes final when sentencing is pronounced or when any direct appeal to that judgment is decided. So if the Supreme Court refuses to hear an appeal, then the date of final judgment is the date where the Supreme Court petition for hearing is denied.
Prisoners Get One Shot
Inmates only get one chance at filing a §2255, except in rare cases where new evidence is found, or the Supreme Court decides a startling ruling which alters the process of similar cases. Many, many inmates get help from other prisoners they are incarcerated with to file a motion like this. Some are very good, but most times this is a total waste of the one shot a prisoner gets at filing a motion like this.
The moral of this story? Do the best work the first time around and avoid making common mistakes that get a defendant’s one chance at a §2255 tossed out before it even gets a chance to be heard.
If you would like to learn more about filing federal appeals, and what these motions can and cannot do, visit PCR Consultants for a full report.
You can also give us a call at (480) 382-9287 for a free, no obligation consultation regarding your questions about §2255 appeals.
The PCR Consultants Team
Federal 2255 Appeals