Can I Appeal a Criminal Conviction in Pennsylvania?
Going through a trial can be an emotional roller coaster, given the complexities of the legal justice system. It can worsen if you get convicted of the offense, and you may wonder what options you have for relief. Fortunately, a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia can help you appeal the court’s decision.
The law provides various protections to defendants, allowing them to seek a review of their cases, even after a verdict is entered. In Pennsylvania, you can file a post-sentence motion within ten days after the court delivers its ruling.
Common Requests in Post-Trial Motions
All post-trial relief requested from the trial court is summarized in one motion. Some common requests you can raise in a post-trial motion, depending on your case specifics, are the following:
- A new trial
- Challenging or requesting a modification of the sentence imposed
- Withdrawing a guilty or no-contest plea
- A motion for the judge to enter an acquittal
- A request to stay the judgment
If you wish to get a guilty plea withdrawn, it must be first established that you didn’t enter the plea voluntarily. A motion for acquittal requires you to show the jury’s verdict isn’t supported by the evidence presented at trial. Your appeals lawyer in Philadelphia can help with these motions to ensure you meet the required standards.
What Does the Appeal Process Look Like in Philadelphia?
If the judge finds you guilty, the next thing is to sentence you by imposing the penalties authorized by law for that particular crime. You can only appeal the court’s decision once a sentence has been imposed. Besides, you can’t file an appeal if you pleaded guilty to the charges. Instead, you can make a motion to withdraw your plea with the help of a skilled appeals attorney.
Establishing Legal Grounds for an Appeal
An experienced Philadelphia appeals lawyer can help you understand the grounds upon which a conviction may be overturned, or a sentence changed, depending on the case specifics. Four grounds upon which you may appeal a criminal conviction are the following:
- The evidence presented against you doesn’t support the conviction
- Ineffective counsel assistance
- Law enforcement misconduct, such as refusal by the judge to exclude tainted or otherwise inadmissible evidence
- A severe error by a lower court, such as errors in instructing the jury, erroneous rulings by the trial judge, or sentencing errors, such as exceeding the legal maximum
Various mistakes by the court can be considered “harmless errors,” which is an incorrect ruling by a judge. However, it doesn’t meet the burden of having the original verdict reversed nor warrant a new trial through an appeal. Consult a skilled appeals lawyer for the subsequent legal course of action if your case is deemed a “harmless error.”
Filing a Post-Sentence Motion
Once you establish that you have a solid ground for appeal, you need to file a post-sentence motion, which the court must rule within 120 days before you can appeal your sentence.
A Philadelphia lawyer helping clients with criminal defense can also help you file your notice of appeal with the Clerk of Court of Common Pleas and give two copies to the Court Clerk. You will receive a criminal docketing statement that identifies and labels individual cases. The information is sent back to the clerk.
Caution is needed as some vital documents for your appeal may not be included in the standard filings. Any errors arising during the filing process can take time to correct, making the proceeding lengthier. So, ensure you work with a skilled appeals attorney in Philadelphia to get everything done correctly at every step.
Researching and Writing Your Appeal
Before presenting your case to the appellate court, your lawyer will research and write an appellate brief. It’s your chance to explain why the appellate court should reverse the case entirely. Your attorney can help you find errors in the appeal record and correct them before the actual motion.
A good brief should be persuasive, well-researched, and precise to catch the judge’s attention. A skilled Philadelphia appeals lawyer will research and rely on statutes, precedential case law, and any appropriate legislation to argue that the trial court erred in its ruling. They can argue that your case is similar to another one the court reversed to show why yours should be reversed.
Oral argument is the last step in the appeal process and your last chance to convince the appellate court why it should overrule the trial’s court sentencing. If you’re successful in your appeal, you may be granted a new trial involving an entirely new jury. The mistakes you complained of in your appeal must be corrected.
In some unusual cases, the error that forms the ground for your appeal may be so significant that the appellate court dismisses the trial court’s decision entirely. That tends to happen in cases where specific evidence is missing or insufficient to warrant a trial. The more evidence you can have excluded from a new trial, the better your odds for a dismissal.
Top Rated Appellate Lawyer Giving You the Highest Quality Representation
If convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania, you may appeal the court’s decision if you’re unhappy with the outcome. However, criminal appeals are often complex and lengthy, and you may be unable to defend yourself adequately. That’s why you should work with an experienced and aggressive appeals attorney in Philadelphia to help you create a strong case.
Our appeals attorney can provide the legal assistance you need during this difficult time. Our experience spans several years, and we understand how to navigate the complex criminal justice system to help our clients win their cases. If you’ve been convicted of a crime or are facing criminal charges, call Liberty Law Team at (215) 732-3474 to talk to a dedicated lawyer.