Email or Call (215) 564-0644

    PA PCRA Petition – Can You Appeal an Attempted Murder Conviction Due to a Lawyer’s Inexperience?

    Question: My son was convicted of attempted murder at trial in Philadelphia. His lawyer didn’t call a witness that could have proved his innocence. I found out that he just graduated from law school and doesn’t have much experience. Can I appeal his conviction?

    Answer: In Pennsylvania, after a defendant is convicted of a crime, he may appeal his conviction. There are 3 different types of appeals:

    Though it is best that we discuss the details of your son’s case further, from the information you gave in your question, your son may be able to file a PCRA petition based on a claim called ineffective assistance of counsel if the case was a state prosecution.

    In a nutshell, ineffective assistance of counsel occurs when a defense attorney’s performance falls below an objective standard of reasonableness when representing their client.

    Related: PA Post Conviction Relief Act Petition – How to Prove Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claims

    There are many different ways a criminal defense lawyer can be ineffective. The fact that your son’s lawyer was inexperienced is not enough to prove that his lawyer was ineffective; however, failing to call a witness at trial may be one of the ways.

    The lawyer’s failure to call a witness in and of itself also does not prove that the defense counsel was ineffective. We must meet a three-prong test in order to prove that your son’s lawyer was ineffective: arguable merit, counsel’s act or omission was unreasonable, and your son was prejudiced.

    In order to satisfy the first prong that the claim has arguable merit, your son must show the following:

    • the witness was available;
    • his lawyer knew about the witness or should have known about the witness;
    • the witness would have testified on your son’s behalf.

    The next prong your son needs to establish is that his lawyer’s action was not reasonable. If your son was never told by his lawyer that there was a witness who could have proved he was not at the scene of the crime, i.e., an alibi defense, his lawyer’s action may be considered unreasonable. Further, it can be argued that any competent lawyer would have called the witness to the stand. The witness was available to testify and could have proved that your son was not at the crime scene.

    The last prong that your son must prove is that he was prejudiced by his lawyer’s action. Your son may have been prejudiced by the absence of the witness’s testimony that could have proved he was innocent. If the witness was available to testify, the outcome of your son’s trial could have been different and he may not have been convicted of attempted murder.

    Please give me a call to discuss your son’s case further. We offer FREE consultations and have experience handling PCRA petitions and appeals.  (215) 564-0644

    David S. Nenner

    "Top Rated Criminal Defense Lawyer"

    MURDER, Att. Murder CHARGES – Negotiated Significantly Lower prison sentence (Feb. 2022, PHILA)

    Mr. Anderson faced murder and attempted murder charges after an incident in Northeast Philadelphia involving the shooting death of Anderson’s sister’s boyfriend and the boyfriend’s roommate who was shot 5 times and survived. The decedent had previously beaten the...


    The Commonwealth alleged that Mr. Shelton shot and seriously injured a male in a bar in North Philadelphia called Circles. There was video of the shooting which happened outside the bar. However, Mr. Nenner presented witnesses who testified that the person in the bar...


    Mr. Nenner's client was charged with multiple crimes (murder, conspiracy, aggravated assault, robbery, etc.) after a shooting death occurred at a gambling house in North Philadelphia. At trial, Mr. Nenner successfully presented a self-defense argument and convinced...


    Mr. Nenner’s client was charged with murder and gun charges in Philadelphia. The client was accused of shooting and killing another male on Arch Street near the 5600 block of Ithan Street in Philadelphia. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty after deliberating...

    Drug Possession Case – Motion to Suppress Granted

    Mr. Nenner presented evidence that to show that the traffic stop was a pretextual stop. The officer had no reason to pull the car over. The judge agreed and suppressed the evidence. As a result, the prosecution withdrew the charges.

    Sentencing for 1st Degree Murder in PA

    In this article below we discuss sentencing for 1st degree murder cases in Pennsylvania. In later articles, we will discuss sentencing for 2nd and 3rd degree murder cases. If you or a loved one is facing murder charges in Philadelphia or the surrounding counties,...

    Philadelphia Criminal Trials – Evidence Pointing to Another Perpetrator in Drug Possession or Drug Manufacture Cases

    In criminal trials in Philadelphia, one pretty common defense tactic is pointing the finger at another person at trial. This can raise enough doubt to result in a not guilty verdict by the judge or jury that the defendant was not the perpetrator of the crime. Here’s...

    Philadelphia Murder & Gun Possession Cases Increasing in 2021 – A Look at Common Charges & Defenses

    A look at PA criminal law for Murder (1st, 2nd, 3rd Degree), Aggravated Assault, Robbery, Possession of a Firearm, Carrying a Firearm Without a License, Carrying a Firearm in Philadelphia (misdemeanor).

    Pennsylvania Murder Charges, Deceased Person’s Statements Used to Prove Guilt

    Defense Trial Strategies – Excluding Statements That Accuse the Defendant Prosecutors often look to a deceased individual’s statements made prior to a murder to show that the defendant is guilty. These statements may point to a history of violence between the deceased...

    Pennsylvania (State) Drug Charges, Dog Sniffs & Constitutional Law

    Federal and Pennsylvania state courts treat narcotics dog searches differently. So different that the same scenario could result in different outcomes in federal versus state court. For example, a Philadelphia resident is pulled over for speeding. During the traffic...