When Can You Appeal a Criminal Conviction in Pennsylvania?

If you have been convicted of a criminal offense, or pleaded guilty to criminal charges, in the state of Pennsylvania, you may feel that your case is over. However, that is not necessarily the case. There are situations in which you may be able to appeal your criminal conviction. If the appeal is granted, your conviction may be overturned and you may avoid facing criminal penalties for that offense.

Under Pennsylvania state law, you may only appeal a conviction if certain circumstances exist. State law specifies that appeals may be filed if the state’s constitution or the Constitution of the United States was violated. Furthermore, the violation must have undermined the process so that the judge or jury could not reliably determine your guilt or innocence.

Additionally, you may file an appeal on the grounds that you were ineffectively assisted by your legal representative. However, there must be more to this argument than just claiming that you were not happy with the representation that you received. Rather, you must prove that your attorney failed to represent you adequately. This may include having consistently filed paperwork late, made important decisions without consulting with you or was otherwise unprofessional, among other things.

There are situations in which you might have pleaded guilty not because you felt it the right decision. Rather, you may have done so because of pressure from the authorities. Pennsylvania state law allows you to appeal a guilty plea if you were unlawfully persuaded to do so. This unlawful inducement must have caused you to plead guilty to a crime that you did not commit.

Sometimes, evidence may turn up after your trial that could have affected the outcome of your case. This includes DNA that shows it was not you, but another person, who committed a crime. In such situations, you may be able to appeal the conviction based on that evidence. You may also be able to appeal your conviction if your sentence exceeds the maximum allowed under the law.

This post has provided an overview of criminal appeals in the state of Pennsylvania. However, you should keep in mind that each case is unique. Therefore, this should be taken only as general information and not as legal advice.