Attorney for Cases in Pennsylvania Courts of Appeals
So, you have come all the way to the end of a long and tiring trial for the criminal charges against you, and the jury returns with a verdict of guilty. You are now facing hefty fines or possibly years behind bars. You might feel completely defeated and ready to throw in the towel, but this is not the end of the road for your case. Criminal defendants have the right to appeal their guilty verdicts to a higher court in Pennsylvania. These Pennsylvania courts of appeals will assess specific legal issues surrounding your case and, if you are successful, the ruling of the trial court could be reversed.
The appeals process is not an easy one. It can take a long time before your appeal is heard in court, during which time you might be sitting in jail. It is crucial to hire an experienced attorney who can help you navigate this process and successfully appeal your case. Contact our skilled attorney for cases in Pennsylvania courts of appeals at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long. Call (215) 302-0171 to schedule a free legal consultation.
What is an Appeal in a Criminal Case in Pennsylvania?
An appeal is filed after a criminal defendant loses their initial trial. There are numerous grounds on which a defendant may appeal; however, an appeal is not a new trial. Instead, an appeal is where a new court examines the lower trial court’s record of your case and looks for legal errors. Legal errors are different than issues of facts. Things like new evidence or arguments about evidence and the facts of your case will not be heard. It is not the job of an appeals court to determine if you are actually guilty or innocent. It is the court’s job to determine whether the path which led the court to the guilty verdict was legal and proper.
The types of legal errors the court will look for will depend on the nature of your appeal. Suppose you file an appeal on the grounds that your attorney at your first trial was incompetent and failed to provide adequate representation. In that case, the court will look for evidence of ineffective assistance of counsel. However, suppose you file an appeal because you think the judge’s jury instructions were incorrect or inappropriate. In that case, the court will focus on the judge’s instructions and whether or not those instructions conformed to legal standards and requirements.
The court will not be looking for all possible legal errors. You must include all the legal mistakes you think occurred at your trial because the appellate court will not go hunting for errors that you did not bring up yourself. Contact our attorney for cases in Pennsylvania courts of appeal to figure out what grounds you have for appeal and how to file.
Courts of Appeals in Pennsylvania
Think of the court system in Pennsylvania as a pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid are minor courts presided over by magistrates and the Courts of Common Pleas, which are generally where criminal trials are first heard. Above those courts are the intermediate appellate courts. Your appeal will most likely end up in one of these courts. At the top of the pyramid is the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the highest court in the state.
The Commonwealth Court is an appellate court in Pennsylvania that typically hears cases involving decisions made by administrative agencies of state and local governments. The Court also hears civil lawsuits filed against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. This Court generally does not hear criminal matters, nor criminal appeals, so it is very unlikely that your case would end up here.
Your criminal appeal is far more likely to be heard in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. This Court hears criminal appeals as well as most civil appeals from the lower Court of Common Pleas. This Court is not the highest appellate court in Pennsylvania, but it is unlikely your case will move any further than the Superior Court. As such, this court tends to be the final word on matters of criminal appeals.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the highest court in the state and is generally the very final word on appellate matters. Getting your appeal to this court is far from easy as the court can pick and choose which cases they hear. You must file a petition with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court requesting that your case be heard. If your petition is denied, your case is not selected for review, and the decision of the Superior Court becomes the final word. This court may be the highest in Pennsylvania, but it is possible to appeal to even higher courts, such as the United States Supreme Court.
Filing an Appeal in Pennsylvania
If you wish to appeal your criminal trial results, you must file a notice of appeal within 30 days of your sentence. If the 30-day window has closed, the court might allow you to file anyway if you have a good reason for filing late. You may only appeal issues that were raised during your first trial. Generally, new issues cannot be raised on appeal. For example, if you objected to issues like an unfair sentence, improper evidentiary rulings, or prosecutorial misconduct, to name a few, you may raise these issues in your appeal. If you pled guilty and did not have a trial, your appeal options are more limited. Our attorney for cases in Pennsylvania courts of appeal can help you determine what to include in your appeal and how to file it.
Call Our Attorney for Cases in Pennsylvania Courts of Appeals
If you or someone you know has been convicted of criminal charges and wants to file an appeal, do not hesitate to call our attorney for cases in Pennsylvania courts of appeal. Contact The Law Offices of Lloyd Long by calling (215) 302-0171 or reaching out online. You can schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your appeal options with our experienced legal team.