Pennsylvania Criminal Conviction Appeals Attorney
Going through a trial for criminal charges is a long, exhausting, and frightening experience, to say the least. It can be humiliating to be accused of a crime in the first place and then frightening to learn you may spend many years behind bars. However, being convicted of a crime does not have to be the final straw. Criminal defendants can appeal their conviction to a higher court and hopefully get a new trial and a second chance.
If you were recently convicted of a crime and you believe you were not given a fair trial, reach out to our Pennsylvania criminal conviction appeals attorney immediately. We can review the record of your trial and determine if you have a strong case for appeals. Contact The Law Offices of Lloyd Long by calling (215) 302-0171. Speak with our staff about setting up a free and confidential legal consultation for your appeal.
Challenging Criminal Convictions in Pennsylvania
Criminal defendants are entitled to file an appeal a sentence. Unless they have waived certain appellate rights as part of a plea agreement, all criminal defendants have the right to file a direct appeal. Even if their rights to a direct appeal have been waived, there are other types of appeals that they may be able to take.
An appeal is not a new trial, although it may result in new hearings. An appeal involves taking your conviction to a higher court and asking them to review your trial’s record for legal errors or mistakes. There is typically no new evidence introduced at an appellate hearing, nor is there any argument regarding guilt or innocence.
Depending on the nature of your appeal, many of the arguments you make must have been preserved at trial. Preserving an issue for appeal often means raising an objection to something you think should not be introduced. If the judge overrules your objections, you may raise those same objections at your appeal. For this reason, it is crucial that your attorney make any and all objections possible so that you do not lose any appellate opportunities.
The Appeals Process in Pennsylvania
The process for a direct appeal begins shortly after your conviction. Usually, a defendant has 30 days to file their direct appeal from the day they are convicted. If you miss this window, you may be barred from filing a direct appeal unless you have a very good reason as to why you were late. When we file an appeal, we must also serve notice on the trial court.
Once we have filed for the appeal and served notice on the court, we must begin writing the brief that will encompass your appeal. This brief is where we make all our legal arguments. Precisely what is contained in the brief will depend on what happened during your initial jury trial or bench trial and our strategy for approaching the appeals process. We could argue over whether the judge’s jury instructions were appropriate or whether certain evidence entered by the prosecution should have been left out. To hammer out the details of your appeal, you should speak with our Pennsylvania criminal conviction appeals attorney immediately.
The Post-Conviction Relief Act in Pennsylvania
If your direct appeal was denied or you waived your right to a direct appeal as part of a plea agreement, you may still have other appellate options. Pennsylvania’s Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) is a special type of appeal reserved for specific appellate issues. While direct appeals are a bit more general, appeals under the PCRA are more specific and limited.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
A defendant may file an appeal under the PCRA if they believe their attorney at their criminal trial was so inept that they were deprived of effective counsel as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the truth determinative capabilities of the court were undermined.
Prosecutorial misconduct is often hard to identify when it is happening. Often, defendants do not realize prosecutorial misconnect has occurred until after the fact. If you believe the prosecutor on your case engaged in some form of misconduct, like withholding evidence during discovery, you might want to file for an appeal under the PCRA.
Unlawful Guilty Plea
In many cases, defendants opt for a plea agreement that allows them to avoid a trial and reduce their charges or be granted a reduced sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. However, if you think you were tricked or otherwise unlawfully induced into accepting a plea deal, you can file an appeal under the PCRA.
Ordinarily, an appellate court does not hear issues regarding evidence. However, if you file a petition under the PCRA, you may be able to argue there is new exculpatory evidence in your case. This must be evidence that is exculpatory and was not available at the time of trial. Usually, you will have to demonstrate that you were unable to uncover this evidence previously despite due diligence to do so.
An unlawful sentence is one in which the judge goes beyond the Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines. Under certain circumstances, a judge may impose a sentence that goes beyond sentencing guidelines, but there must be a law that allows them to do so and they usually must have a good reason. If you were given a higher than a normal sentence and do not believe the judge was legally allowed to impose such a sentence, you can file an appeal under the PCRA.
Contact Our Pennsylvania Criminal Conviction Appeals Lawyer for a Consultation
If you or a loved one was convicted of a criminal offense in Pennsylvania and you wish to continue fighting the charges, please reach out to our Pennsylvania criminal conviction appeals attorney. We can review your case and determine what kind of appeal is best for you. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 to set up a legal consultation with our team.