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Grounds for Criminal Appeals in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Criminal Appeals Too many individuals believe that their criminal case ends with a conviction. However, a conviction—either stemming from a guilty plea or a jury trial—does not mean that you cannot still fight against your charges. Many convictions arise from unlawful circumstances that either violate your constitutional rights or court procedures and, thus, these convictions are wrongful and should be overturned. An experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney can assist you in appealing your conviction to avoid criminal penalties, strike the conviction from your record, and restore your reputation and freedom.

Basis for Appeals

Appeals are difficult to understand, because so many people assume that you can introduce new evidence of your innocence to the appellate court. However, the appellate court does not overturn convictions based on new evidence. Instead, the court will determine whether the following occurred:

  • The verdict is not support by the weight of the evidence presented at trial; or

  • The lower court made a plain error[1] (i.e. serious mistake regarding the law that affected your rights)

Any mistake on the part of the lower court will not be enough for an appeal—instead, the mistake must have substantially affected the outcome of the proceeding. Therefore, in an appeal, you must not only assert that the court made an error, but you must further demonstrate that the error had a substantial effect in leading to your conviction. Such an error may occur in a trial or even in a guilty plea scenario.

Questions to ask for an appeal

While the legal issues involving a criminal appeal may be complicated, an experienced criminal defense appeals lawyer will know which questions to ask in order to determine appropriate grounds for your particular appeal. Some questions that will commonly be explored include the following:

• Did the judge wrongfully rule to exclude evidence that would have helped your case?

• Did the judge wrongfully admit evidence that was used against you in violation of your rights?

• Did the judge fail to consider critical information?

• Did the judge allow the prosecution to make certain arguments against the rules of evidence or criminal procedure?

• Did your attorney provide you effective assistance[2] in either plea bargaining or at trial?

• Did the judge fail to provide the jury members with appropriate and clear instructions?

• Was there any misconduct on the part of the prosecution or law enforcement officers?

• Did any of the prosecution's witnesses engage in perjury?

• Is your sentence inappropriate or excessive for your offense and circumstances?

Such questions and more will assist a criminal appeals attorney in identifying legal grounds for why your conviction and/or sentence should be overturned.

Contact an experienced Philadelphia criminal appeals lawyer today

If you believe you have been wrongfully convicted or sentenced for any reason, it is always worth it to consult with an experienced criminal appeals attorney at The Zeiger Firm in Philadelphia. There are numerous ways to appeal and numerous possible grounds for appeals, so please call us today at 215-825-5183 for a free consultation.