FREE CONSULTATIONS

Email or Call (215) 564-0644

    Brady Violations & Newly Discovered Evidence – Exceptions to Pennsylvania’s 1 Year PCRA Petition Law

    Time limitation issues often come into play in many Pennsylvania Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petitions. Section 9545 specifies a one year time limitation for PCRA petitions. Under Pennsylvania criminal appellate law, a PCRA petition must be filed within 1 year of the date the judgment becomes final unless one of the exceptions under section 9545(b)(1) applies and the petition is filed within 60 days of the date the claim could have been presented.

    In addition, the PCRA timeliness requirements are jurisdictional; Pennsylvania courts will strictly construe the exceptions. This basically means that the PCRA court will not review the merits of the PRCA claim unless it initially finds that the petition was filed in a timely manner or otherwise meets one of the exceptions.

    Basically, the clock starts ticking on the date the judgment becomes final. If the 1 year time deadline has passed, the facts must fit within one of the three statutory exceptions, two of which are discussed below: governmental interference and newly discovered evidence.

    Related: Pennsylvania PCRA Law: The Basics of Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act

    Key Sections of Pennsylvania’s Post-Conviction Relief Act § 9545.  Jurisdiction and proceedings. [*The following does not include the entire sections of the cited statute and is current as of June 2014]

    (a)  Original jurisdiction.–Original jurisdiction over a proceeding under this subchapter shall be in the court of common pleas. No court shall have authority to entertain a request for any form of relief in anticipation of the filing of a petition under this subchapter.

    (b)  Time for filing petition.–

    (1)  Any petition under this subchapter, including a second or subsequent petition, shall be filed within one year of the date the judgment becomes final, unless the petition alleges and the petitioner proves that:

    (i)  the failure to raise the claim previously was the result of interference by government officials with the presentation of the claim in violation of the Constitution or laws of this Commonwealth or the Constitution or laws of the United States;

    (ii)  the facts upon which the claim is predicated were unknown to the petitioner and could not have been ascertained by the exercise of due diligence; or

    (iii)  the right asserted is a constitutional right that was recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States or the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania after the time period provided in this section and has been held by that court to apply retroactively.

    (2)  Any petition invoking an exception provided in paragraph (1) shall be filed within 60 days of the date the claim could have been presented.

    (3)  For purposes of this subchapter, a judgment becomes final at the conclusion of direct review, including discretionary review in the Supreme Court of the United States and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, or at the expiration of time for seeking the review.

    (4)  For purposes of this subchapter, “government officials” shall not include defense counsel, whether appointed or retained.

    [**Sections (c) and (d) omitted.]

    Legal Discussion & Example

    Example – Brady Violation & Newly Discovered Evidence

    A Philadelphia area man is arrested and convicted of murder. There was a sole eyewitness to the crime who identified the defendant in a line-up. The crux of the prosecution’s case was based on the eyewitness testimony and identification. The physical evidence was not strong. After the 1 year time limit of the PCRA passed, the defendant learns that the eyewitness recanted her testimony in a written statement to police, before the trial. The prosecutor never provided a copy of that statement to the defendant.

    Here, the facts support two exceptions: the governmental interference (Brady violation) exception and the newly discovered evidence exception. The failure to provide the eyewitness statement constitutes a Brady violation. Other examples of the types of governmental interference which qualify under this section include false statements by witnesses or evidence that a witness was paid as an informant.

    In addition, the written statement constitutes newly discovered evidence, which in this instance, was not discoverable by the exercise of due diligence, is exculpatory in nature, and would have made a difference in the outcome of trial.

    So long as the defendant complies with subsection (2), and files his PCRA petition within 60 days of learning about the statement, the court would likely grant review of his petition. If the evidence is sufficient, the court would likely grant defendant a new trial.

    More:  Philadelphia PA Drug Cases Thrown Out Due to Corruption in Philadelphia’s Police Department

    Questions on Filing a PCRA Petition or Appeal in PA – Free Consultations with Criminal Trial Lawyers

    If you or a loved one has questions about whether an appeal or PCRA petition is timely, please contact our office for a free case assessment. Our criminal defense lawyers are experienced trial and appellate lawyers. (215) 564-0644

    Disclaimer: This website does not create any attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. Our lawyers provide legal advice only after accepting a case. It is imperative that any action taken is done on advice of counsel. Read full disclaimer below.

     

    David S. Nenner

    "Top Rated Criminal Defense Lawyer"
    (2015-2022)

    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...

    Att. MURDER CHARGES – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (April 2022, PHILA)

    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...

    MURDER, Robbery CHARGES – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (MAY 2021, PHILA)

    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...

    MURDER CHARGE – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (MAY 2021, PHILA)

    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.

    Drug Charges in Philadelphia PA State Court – Possession of a Controlled Substance

    In most criminal drug cases in Philadelphia, there are two common charges or offenses: Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver. In addition to these drug charges, there are other drug related charges, such...

    Drug Charges in Philadelphia PA State Court – What is “Possession”

    Page last reviewed and updated: October 20, 2019 One of the most common types of criminal state (PA) cases in Philadelphia is possession of drugs. Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCS) and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver (PWID) often...

    Pennsylvania Second Degree Murder (AKA: Felony Murder) Law

    Philadelphia criminal lawyer David S. Nenner discusses the current status of second degree murder law in Pennsylvania. This is also known as the felony murder rule. Get info about PA court decisions and the agency theory. Not every case of death during the commission of a felony will result in a second degree murder conviction in PA.

    Philadelphia Murder Cases – Police Investigation Tactics

    Questioning Police Officer Tactics in Philadelphia Murder Cases Within the last 10 years, there have been several murder Philadelphia criminal cases in which the accused individuals were acquitted of the crimes. In these cases, the individuals spent months, if not...

    Murder Charges in Pennsylvania – Murder Law in Pennsylvania

    An explanation of Pennsylvania murder laws including Section 2502. What is murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree and murder in the third degree. Get a summary of the definitions under Pennsylvania criminal law.