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Conviction Review Unit (CRU) in Hillsborough County

Unfortunately, wrongful convictions are part of our criminal justice system. Even after a wrongful conviction, the duty of a prosecutor is to seek justice.  That duty never ends, even after a case has closed. For this reason, in 2018, State Attorney Andrew Warren announced that his office created a Conviction Review Unit (“CRU”).

The Conviction Review Unit (“CRU”) is a specialized unit within the prosecutor’s office that works to prevent, identify, and remedy wrongful convictions. As of the end of 2017, there were 33 CRUs (also called “Conviction Integrity Units”) around the country, mostly in major cities.

The goal of the Conviction Review Unit (“CRU”) is to identify a wrongful conviction and then provide a remedy to reverse the conviction. The CRU conducts an initial screening process. If the claim merits review, the CRU then conducts a more detailed investigation of the claim.

According to recent descriptions of the program, if the CRU identifies a wrongful conviction, the State Attorney’s Office will remedy the conviction by dismissing the underlying charges and then take additional steps to prevent similar wrongful convictions in future cases.

The Supervising Attorney of the Conviction Review Unit (“CRU”) reports directly to Andrew Warren, the State Attorney in Hillsborough County. The CRU Supervisor will be primarily responsible for the operation of the CRU by supervising the staff and investigators assigned to the CRU and case screening and review. Additionally, the Supervising Attorney of the CRU will be responsible for providing enhanced training to prosecutors and investigators.

An Independent Review Panel is composed of legal experts outside of the State Attorney’s Office that collaborates with our CRU to provide additional analysis and evaluation of cases under review.

Attorneys for CRU Petitions in Hillsborough County, FL

If you were wrongfully convicted of a crime in Hillsborough County, contact a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss our ability to represent you during this process. A criminal defense attorney help you complete the petition which can be sent to the State Attorney’s Office-Conviction Review Unit, 419 N. Pierce St., Tampa, Florida 33602.

We can also help you gather all of the mitigation and exculpatory evidence that supports the claims in your petition.

After a wrongful conviction, your first priority is working with your attorney to preserve all of the issues for judicial review during a direct appeal or during post-conviction motions. In addition to those remedies, or even after the time limits for those remedies have expired, you should also consider submitting a petition to the CRU if you believe you were wrongfully convicted of a crime.

Call us to discuss your case at 813-250-0500.


The Request for Conviction Review in Hillsborough County, FL

The Conviction Review Unit of the 13th Circuit State Attorney’s Office will review
cases that meet the following criteria:

  1. The conviction occurred in the Thirteenth (13th) Circuit of Florida in and for Hillsborough County.
  2. The petitioner must present a claim of actual innocence, meaning that he/she did not commit or participate in the crime.
  3. The conviction must be of a felony with the highest priority of review for individualswho are incarcerated and have been convicted of serious and/or violent felonies.
  4. The claim must be supported by information or evidence not previously litigated before the original trier of fact (Judge or Jury.)
  5. The claim must be capable of being investigated and resolved, and if substantiated, would bear directly on the issue of innocence.
  6. The conviction must be in the procedural posture that the direct appeal has become final and there is no pending litigation.
  7. The claim must not be frivolous.

A plea of not guilty is not a bar to review, but will be subjected to a higher level of scrutiny.

Keep in mind that requesting review of your case by the Conviction Review Unit (“CRU”) does not toll the time you have to pursue post-conviction remedies, such as file a direct appeal or a post-conviction motion. Those appeals or motions must be pursued separately.

The petition is an extrajudicial process. There is no right of appeal from declination by the CRU. All decisions made by the CRU, including the decision to accept a petition regarding re-opening a case investigation, as well as how the claim will be investigated and resolved, are at the discretion of the Thirteenth (13th) Circuit State Attorney’s Office.

The CRU’s primary purpose is to evaluate claims of innocence based on information and evidence not presented to the original trier of fact.

The CRU will consider new information and evidence, along with information and evidence that had been previously presented.


Additional Resources

Conviction Review Unit of the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office – Visit the website of the State Attorney’s Office for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit to find information the the new Conviction Review Unit (CRU) including information on how to submit a petition to review a wrongful conviction.

CRU Petition
Tampa Office
419 N. Pierce Street
Tampa, Florida 33602

This article was last updated on Wednesday, November 21, 2018.