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Filing Deadlines for a Criminal Appeal in Philadelphia

A guilty verdict might feel like the final word in a criminal case, but there are still ways to fight your case, even after a conviction. Criminal defendants have a right to appeal their cases, and an experienced attorney can help.

You typically have only 30 days to submit your notice of appeal after being convicted. If you filed a post-conviction motion with the court, you have 30 days from when the judge files their 1925(b) opinion, as explained in more detail below. Depending on what the court requests of you, you might also need to file a Statement of Errors Complained of on Appeal with the trial court within 21 days of your initial notice of appeal. The appellate court may request you to submit a brief about what errors you believe occurred during your trial and what relief is necessary. If you have exhausted your direct appeals or never filed one, you might have other options. You typically have 1 year to file a petition under Pennsylvania’s Post-Conviction Relief Act.

For a free case review from our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.

When You Should File a Direct Appeal After a Criminal Conviction in Philadelphia

The time you have to file a direct appeal after a criminal conviction is very short, and it is best to get to work immediately. According to 210 Pa. Code ֻ§ 903(a), a convicted criminal defendant has 30 days to submit a notice of appeal to the trial court. Exactly when this deadline begins counting down might vary depending on certain factors.

After a conviction, defendants have 10 days to submit a post-sentence motion to the court, essentially asking the judge to reconsider. The judge may then submit an opinion answering the motion and either granting or denying relief, according to 210 Pa. Code § 1925(b). In fact, the response from the judge is commonly referred to as a 1925(b) opinion. The judge must submit their opinion no later than 120 days after you file your motion.

If you filed a post-sentence motion, you have 30 days from when you receive the 1925(b) opinion from the court denying your motion. If you did not file a post-conviction motion, you have 30 days from when you were sentenced.

Fling the Appellate Brief and Other Forms for a Direct Appeal in Philadelphia Criminal Cases

After filing your notice of the appeal with the trial court, there may be various other forms and documents to file, depending on the circumstances. First, the trial court may request that you submit a Statement of Errors Complained of on Appeal. Normally, a defendant must submit this 21 days after notice of appeal, although the court may be flexible on the exact deadline. This is submitted to the trial court whose order you are appealing, not the appellate court that will hear the appeal. We might lose precious time if you submit forms and documents to the wrong court.

The trial court may then write an opinion explaining why the issues contained within your Statement of Errors do not warrant relief. This opinion is then sent to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which will hear your appeal. At that point, our Philadelphia criminal appeals lawyers must prepare and submit an appellate brief. This brief should explain what errors we believe occurred and what kind of relief we want for your case.

Depending on the nature of your appeal, you may choose to orally argue your appeal before the appellate court. Discuss this option with your lawyer. While some appeals might warrant oral arguments, others do not. Appellate courts frequently decide appeals based on briefs, documentation, and the trial court record without formal arguments.

How Long You Have to File a Criminal Appeal Under the Post-Conviction Relief Act in Philadelphia

For some, direct appeals do not turn out in their favor. If you have exhausted all your direct appeal options, there might still be hope for relief. We can help you submit a petition under Pennsylvania’s Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA). This is considered a collateral appeal, not a direct appeal. As such, the grounds for an appeal under the PCRA are different than most direct appeals.

A direct appeal challenges the merits of the judgment against you at the trial court level. A collateral appeal challenges the procedures that led to your final judgment.

According to 42 Pa.C.S. § 9545(b)(1), a petitioner must file their petition no later than 1 year after the defendant’s judgment becomes final. Exactly when a judgment becomes final depends on many different factors.

The judgment might become final on the day you are sentenced if you took no direct appeal. If you took previous appeals, including a direct appeal, and those appeals were denied, your deadline to file under the PCRA begins on the date your final appeal was denied. This could be quite some time after your sentencing, as direct appeals often take time to complete.

How to Get Started on Your Criminal Appeal in Philadelphia

To get started on your criminal appeal, you should contact an attorney immediately. If you have already been sentenced, the clock has already started ticking, and time might be growing short. Your attorney can help you submit the proper files, documents, and paperwork to start the appeals process quickly and efficiently.

You should also have your lawyer prepare and review everything to avoid making mistakes, which might cost you precious time when time is already so limited. Remember, if the court rejects your appeal because you submitted the wrong information or sent it to the wrong court, we must start over, and valuable time may be lost.

Speak to Our Philadelphia Criminal Appeals Attorneys for Help Today

For a free case review from our Pennsylvania criminal appeals lawyers, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.