call for a Free Consultation: 215.825.5183


Levin & Zeiger LLP | Sitemap


Direct Appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania

Rule 902.аManner of Taking Appeal.

An appeal permitted by law as of right from a lower court to an appellate court shall be taken by filing a notice of appeal with the clerk of the lower court within the time allowed by Rule 903 (time for appeal). Failure of an appellant to take any step other than the timely filing of a notice of appeal does not affect the validity of the appeal, but it is subject to such action as the appellate court deems appropriate, which may include but is not limited to, remand of the matter to the lower court so that the omitted procedural step may be taken.

Official Note

42 Pa.C.S. за703 (place and form of filing appeals) provides that appeals, petitions for review, petitions for permission to appeal and petitions for allowance of appeal shall be filed in such office and in such form as may be prescribed by general rule.

This chapter represents a significant simplification of practice. In all appeals the appellant prepares two documents: (1) a simple notice of appeal, and (2) a proof of service. The notice of appeal is filed in the lower court and copies thereof, together with copies of the proof of service, are mailed and delivered to all who need to know of the appeal: other parties, lower court judge, official court reporter. The clerk of the trial court transmits one set of the filed papers to the appellate prothonotary (with the requisite filing fee). The appellate prothonotary notes the appellate docket number on the notice of appeal and may utilize photocopies of the marked-up notice of appeal to notify the parties, the lower court and Administrative Office of the fact of docketing. In an appeal to the Supreme Court, the appellant must also prepare, file and serve and the clerk of the trial court must transmit a jurisdictional statement as required by Rule 909.

The new procedure has a number of advantages: (1) the taking of the appeal is more certain in counties other than Dauphin, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, because the appellant may toll the time for appeal by filing the notice of appeal in his local court house thereby eliminating the time lost in transmission of the appeal by mail; (2) the initial filing in the lower court raises an immediate caveat on the record before irreversible or undesirable action is taken on the faith of the judgment appealed from; (3) the immediate recording of the appeal below will simplify criminal appeal matters, e.g. by avoiding in certain cases the unnecessary holding and transfer of defendants between sentencing and perfecting an appeal; (4) the new procedure necessarily eliminates the ''trap'' of failure to perfect an appeal since the notice of appeal is self-perfecting; and (5) the paper work of all parties and the appellate prothonotary is significantly reduced, since the preparation of the writ of certiorari and certain other papers is eliminated.

The 1986 revision to the last sentence of the rule indicates a change in approach to formal defects. The reference to dismissal of the appeal has been deleted in favor of a preference toward, remanding the matter to the lower court so that the omitted procedural step may be taken, thereby enabling the appellate court to reach the merits of the appeal. Nevertheless, dismissal of the appeal ultimately remains a possible alternative where counsel fails to take the necessary steps to correct the defect. See Note to Rule 301 for examples of when an appeal may be remanded because an order has not been reduced to judgment or final decree and docketed.

Section 9781 of the Sentencing Code (42 Pa.C.S. за9781) provides that the defendant or the Commonwealth may file a ''petition for allowance of appeal'' of the discretionary aspects of a sentence for a felony or a misdemeanor. The notice of appeal under this chapter (see Rule 904 (content of the notice of appeal)) operates as the ''petition for allowance of appeal'' under the Sentencing Code. It automatically raises all possible questions under 42 Pa.C.S. за9781 and is available and appropriate even where no issue relating to guilt or the legality of the sentence (in the sense that the sentence falls outside of the range of discretion vested by law in the sentencing court) is presented. No additional wording is required or appropriate in the notice of appeal.

In effect, the filing of the ''petition for allowance of appeal'' contemplated by the statute is deferred by these rules until the briefing stage, where the question of the appropriateness of the discretionary aspects of the sentence may be briefed and argued in the usual manner. See Rule 2116 (statement of questions involved) and Rule 2119 (argument).

42 Pa.C.S. за9781(f) provides that: ''No appeal of the discretionary aspects of the sentence shall be permitted beyond the appellate court that has initial jurisdiction of such appeals.''


The provisions of this Rule 902 amended through December 10, 1986, effective January 31, 1987, and shall govern all matters thereafter commenced and, insofar as just and practicable, matters then pending, 16 Pa.B. 4951. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (70057) and (110215).