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    Allentown, PA Criminal Appeals Attorney

    Criminal charges and a trial are daunting things to deal with. For many, the trial does not turn out in their favor, but that does not mean they have reached the end of the line. A criminal appeal might turn things around.

    Convicted criminal defendants may take a direct appeal as of right. The appeal allows us to have the record of your criminal trial reviewed by a higher court. If the higher appellate court finds legal errors that affected the outcome of your case, you might get a second chance. When filing a criminal appeal, it is important to act fast. Direct appeals must be submitted no later than 30 days after a defendant is sentenced. An appeals hearing is not like another trial. There is usually no new evidence, and we are not there to argue over guilt or innocence. Instead, we argue over legal errors made during your trial. If we are successful, you might get a new trial, a different sentence, or even the dismissal of your entire case.

    Contact our criminal appeals attorneys at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long for a free review of your case to begin by calling (215) 302-0171.

    Common Reasons for Criminal Appeals in Allentown, PA

    Generally, if we believe legal errors were made during your trial that unfairly affected the outcome, our criminal appeals attorneys can and should file an appeal. People sometimes think appeals are pointless, as courts are full of legal experts who do not make mistakes. This could not be further from the truth. The attorneys and judges who make these decisions are not perfect, and mistakes happen all the time.

    One very common reason that convicted defendants file appeals is because of issues involving evidence. Perhaps the prosecution used evidence we believe was illegally obtained by law enforcement despite your objections. You can appeal the issue and argue for a new trial where the tainted evidence is excluded.

    Another possibility is that some of the evidence used against you did not meet rigorous evidentiary standards. If evidence was based on hearsay, could not be substantiated, or was overly prejudicial, we can file an appeal.

    Sometimes, appeals are filed because of witness testimony. Perhaps we knew a witness of the prosecution lied on the stand. It can be hard to object to these kinds of problems, as we might not have proof of the lie. We can file an appeal and prove to the appellate court that the witness lied, and you should get a new trial.

    Some appeals are based on procedural problems. For example, an important step in the trial process is providing juries with instructions on how they should deliberate and what they should base their verdict on. If these instructions are unclear, misleading, or otherwise incorrect, the jury might find someone guilty for the wrong reasons.

    When You Must File Your Criminal Appeal in Allentown, PA

    All criminal defendants have a right to file a direct appeal unless those rights are waived as part of a plea agreement. Even then, there might be limited circumstances under which you can file an appeal. One key element to a successful appeal is timeliness. While you have a right to file a direct appeal, you must do so before the deadline, or you might lose this right.

    After a defendant has been found guilty and sentenced, they typically have 10 days to file a post-sentence motion raising any objections regarding the sentence or other issues. The judge should respond with a 1925(b), named for the rule under 210 Pa. Code Rule § 1925(b). After this, you have 30 days to submit a notice of the appeal, according to 210 Pa. Code Rule § 903(a).

    If your time is running short, you should contact an attorney immediately. You should still talk to a lawyer if you did not file a direct appeal on time. There might still be hope if you could not file a direct appeal due to circumstances beyond your control. For example, suppose your previous attorney negligently failed to file the appeal or never even discussed an appeal with you. In that case, you can file a petition under Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act for ineffective assistance of counsel.

    What Happens During the Criminal Appeals Process in Allentown, PA?

    The appellate hearing is not like another trial. It is not a second chance to defend yourself and hope for a different verdict. There is no jury in an appeal hearing. Additionally, we usually cannot introduce new evidence and make arguments about guilt or innocence. Instead, the appellate court reviews the records of the lower trial court to check for legal errors.

    The primary concern in an appellate court hearing is the trial court’s record of your case. When we submit a Statement of Errors to the court, it must contain the legal errors we believe occurred during your trial. First, we must convince the appellate court that these errors did, in fact, occur. Next, we must convince the court that these errors unfairly prejudiced the jury against you.

    You should also note that you might not be at your own appeal hearing. Considering the nature of the hearing and what is being decided, many defendants do not have to be there. Many defendants cannot be present anyway, as they might be serving a prison sentence while their appeal is pending.

    Possible Outcomes of the Criminal Appeals Process in Allentown, PA

    Perhaps the more common outcome of successful appeals is a new trial. At your new trial, legal errors should be corrected, and we will have a second chance to defend you against your criminal charges. For example, if the legal error consisted of unlawful evidence that should never have been introduced in court, your new trial will exclude that evidence.

    If the focus of your appeal is not on your trial’s outcome but on the outcome of your sentencing hearing, you might be given a new sentence that comports with Pennsylvania laws and sentencing guidelines. Often, this is a shorter sentence than the one originally imposed.

    In rare circumstances, the court might dismiss your case entirely. This is not typical and might only occur under very limited conditions. For example, suppose the prosecutor committed some misconduct (e.g., tampering with evidence or witnesses). In that case, the appellate court might dismiss the case because prosecutors should not get a second chance to prove their claims.

    Call Our Allentown, PA Criminal Appeals Attorneys for Help

    Contact our criminal appeals attorneys at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long for a free review of your case to begin by calling (215) 302-0171.