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Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA)

The Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) allows a defendant to appeal his case when a direct appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania has been denied. The PCRA must be filed within a year of the final disposition of the case that ended all of the defendant's appellate rights. The exception to this rule is when the defendant is in custody. When a defendant is in custody, there are various ways to file a PCRA after the one year rule has passed. We have previously answered questions about the Innocence Project. Obviously, all appellate rights and PCRA have expired in most Innocence Project cases, yet, defendants are still allowed to file a PCRA and obtain a hearing. Newly found evidence is an exception to the one year rule.

A PCRA is limited to certain grounds for appeal. You must plead one of the following in the PCRA petition. Under the statute you can only begin the process if you fall under one of the following:

(2) That the conviction or sentence resulted from one or more of the following:

  1. (i) A violation of the Constitution of this Commonwealth or the Constitution or laws of the United States which, in the circumstances of the particular case, so undermined the truth-determining process that no reliable adjudication of guilt or innocence could have taken place.
  2. (ii) Ineffective assistance of counsel which, in the circumstances of the particular case, so undermined the truth-determining process that no reliable adjudication of guilt or innocence could have taken place.
  3. (iii) A plea of guilty unlawfully induced where the circumstances make it likely that the inducement caused the petitioner to plead guilty and the petitioner is innocent.
  4. (iv) The improper obstruction by government officials of the petitioners right of appeal where a meritorious appealable issue existed and was properly preserved in the trial court."
  5. (v) Deleted by statute.
  6. (vi) The unavailability at the time of trial of exculpatory evidence that has subsequently become available and would have changed the outcome of the trial if it had been introduced.
  7. (vii) The imposition of a sentence greater than the lawful maximum.
  8. (viii) A proceeding in a tribunal without jurisdiction.

(3) That the allegation of error has not been previously litigated or waived.

(4) That the failure to litigate the issue prior to or during trial or on direct appeal could not have been the result of any rational, strategic or tactical decision by counsel.

Ref. 42 Pa.C.S. 1500-1510

Our Clients

philadelphia criminal appeals

Contact us now for a free consultation with a Pennsylvania Criminal Appeals Attorney and discuss your criminal appeal. Whether the prosecution is in Philadelphia, State College, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Reading, Scranton, Harrisburg, Erie or any community in Pennsylvania, we can help.

We file appeals throughout Pennsylvania for people who were convicted in the smallest counties to the largest metropolitan areas. Our attorneys defend people’s rights in Common Pleas Courts throughout Pennsylvania, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States of America.

Whether your case is ripe for a direct appeal on you wish to file an appeal under the Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA), our experienced lawyers are ready to help you and your family today.

Time after time we get phone calls and emails from people who are unhappy with the system, unhappy with the results of their trial, and unhappy with the way the system treated them through the trial and sentencing process.

Once prospective clients meet with us, they become our clients for years to come because we believe that justice is an essential human value, and we never stop fighting for our clients, even when other lawyers tell people to give up.