Can I Appeal a Criminal Conviction in Philadelphia?

Being arrested on criminal charges is frightening, and it can be overwhelming to be convicted. However, you don’t have to accept the verdict as final. If you believe the ruling was unfair or disagree with the court’s findings, you can seek the help of a criminal defense and injury lawyer in Philadelphia. They can evaluate the case and help you appeal the conviction.

Nearly all criminal convictions can be appealed unless you plead guilty. In that case, you can file a motion to withdraw the plea if you wish to challenge the sentence.

What is Pennsylvania Appeals Process?

Defendants can appeal their cases to higher appellate courts post their criminal convictions. Depending on the kind of appeal you want to file, you may only have a limited time. An experienced post-sentence motions lawyer in Philadelphia can provide legal guidance and representation on how to proceed to ensure you file within the deadline.

The appeal process is lengthy and complicated, so it’s in your best interest to proceed with the help of an aggressive and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. They can ensure you file your petition correctly to avoid mistakes that could adversely affect the outcome of your appeal.

Establish Legal Grounds for Filing an Appeal

The first step in appealing a criminal conviction is establishing legal grounds for appealing. An appeal is a new hearing before a different court to identify errors that could have led to an unfair verdict. The errors apply to law and procedures, not to evidence and facts, and include the following:

  • Any objections by your attorney that were overruled
  • Admission of specific inadmissible evidence, such as evidence obtained illegally or evidence based on hearsay
  • Incorrect jury instructions provided by the judges

Generally, your appeal must allege some legal mistake to have legal ground. A skilled post-sentence motion attorney in Philadelphia can review your request to ensure it meets the required legal standards to qualify for a new hearing.

Filing a Post-Sentence Motion

Once you establish that you have legal grounds for an appeal, you must file a post-sentence motion, which the court must rule within 120 days before the appeal. After the ruling, your lawyer will help you file a notice of appeal with the Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas and provide the Court Clerk with two copies.

You’ll receive a criminal docketing statement, which includes a docket number. This is a code of numbers and letters used to label individual cases.

Once you have properly filed your paperwork, including exhibits and transcripts from the original trial, and it has been processed, the oral arguments will begin. The arguments are often short and occur before a multi-judge panel that will decide your case.

Potential Decisions by the Appellate Judges

After listening to the arguments of your appeal, the appellate judges can make one of three decisions:

  • Affirm the ruling: If the judges affirm the original court’s ruling, it means they have ruled against you and agree with the verdict you received
  • Vacate the ruling: This decision means the judges have ruled in your favor, but your charges are not dismissed yet. It gives you a chance to proceed with a new trial.
  • Modify the ruling: Appellate judges can modify the original court’s ruling if they support it only partially.

How Long Does an Appeal Take?

While the arguments in an appeal hearing are short, the entire process can be lengthy and may not take more than a year to complete. The time it takes varies depending on how your lawyer and the trial judges move the case forward.

If everything is done right, the lawyers don’t request multiple extensions, and the Superiors Court rules quickly, the process could take less than a year.

What Happens if I Win an Appeal in Pennsylvania?

You may be granted a new trial if the appellate judges vacate the original verdict. A new jury will listen to your case for the first time, aiming to correct the mistakes you complained about in your appeal motion.

In some cases, and depending on the case circumstances, the errors could be so gross that the appellate court reverses the verdict and dismisses the charges entirely. Such an outcome is possible where, after specific evidence is excluded, what is left is insufficient to warrant a trial. That’s why working with an aggressive Philadelphia post-sentence motion attorney is essential.

They can help you identify as many errors as possible and include them in your appeal to make it strong. The more mistakes the court can exclude during the new trial, the better your odds for a favorable outcome. The new hearing is legal and prevents you from being prosecuted twice for the same offense.

What Happens if My Appeal is Affirmed?

If you lose your appeal through affirmation by the appellate court, you may have a few different options:

  • Accept the verdict and serve your sentence
  • File a petition for rehearing to request the appellate court to reconsider its decision

Your post-sentence motion attorney in Philadelphia can help you evaluate your options and guide you on how to proceed. If you wish to file a rehearing petition, you must prove that the appellate court overlooked crucial factors or made significant errors.

Defend Yourself Through the Appeals Process With Skilled Legal Guidance

Being convicted of a criminal offense can be frightening because the penalties can be stiff and life-altering. Fortunately, the law allows you to appeal the court’s decision to fight for a more favorable outcome. An aggressive Philadelphia criminal defense and injury attorney can help you file an appeal.

Liberty Law Team has a dedicated post-sentence motions attorney who can guide you through the process without giving up on your case. We can answer your questions to help ease some of the emotional turmoil during this challenging time. Call us at (215) 732-3474 for a FREE consultation.