Thank you for your question.
It's a longshot, but what your fiance would have to do is file a Petition for Post Conviction Relief
alleging ineffective assistance of counsel under Rule 32 of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure. Thousands of such petitions are filed in Arizona each year, but few are granted, the reason being, it is very difficult to meet the high burden of proof set by the court.
In order to legally meet the standard of proof for ineffective assistance of counsel, the Defendant must show that not only was the attorney ineffective, but that the outcome of the proceedings would have been different had the attorney acted (or not acted) differently
. For example, there have been capital punishment cases in Texas where attorneys slept during portions of the trial, and the courts there have found that the attorneys conduct, while highly inappropriate, would not have changed the outcome of the trial!
It isn't sufficient to complain that the trial-level attorney didn't interview enough witnesses, for example. The defendant must instead demonstrate to the Judge exactly what those witnesses would have testified to under oath and that the result of their testimony would have made the defendant's case turn out much better. It isn't sufficient for a successful Rule 32 for a defendant to state that his lawyer threatened him to accept a plea bargain. Attorneys are permitted, under the ethical rules of conduct which govern their behavior, to strongly advise a client to accept a plea agreement
based upon the likelihood of conviction if the person were to go to trial. For example, an attorney is permitted to say, "You need to accept this plea; if you don't sign it, you will be convicted at trial and will serve a lot more time than what is being offered in the plea bargain."
If the conviction and sentence
is based on a plea agreement, the only relief the court can grant a defendant is to set the plea agreement and/or sentence aside. At that point, the case will start over with all original charges reinstated against the defendant. There is no guarantee that your fiance will receive a better plea offer or even the same offer, so they need to know that even if the PCR is granted, that they could receive a greater sentence.
Finally, you need to know two things. Arizona law says that a Notice of Filing a Petition for Post Conviction Relief must be done within 90 days of sentencing. If it is past that time, the petition cannot be filed. Furthermore, he is entitled to only one PCR to be filed, so it is imperative that an experienced appellate attorney research his case carefully so that any and all issues may be raised in the PCR.
Please let me know if you have any follow-up questions or need any clarification, I am here to help.