Email or Call (215) 564-0644

    PA Criminal Appeals Law, Filing a Direct Appeal After a Trial

    After a criminal defendant is convicted of a crime in Philadelphia, whether it is for possession of drugs with intent to deliver or for gun charges, he/she has a right to appeal his/her case.  There are 3 different types of appeals:

    • Direct appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania/Third Circuit Court of Appeals,
    • Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petition, or
    • Writ of Habeas Corpus appeal in the Federal District Court

    This article will only address direct appeals, for more information on PCRA petitions, see PA Criminal Appeals Law – The Basics of Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act Part 1.

    Direct Appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania

    After the defendant is convicted of a crime in Philadelphia criminal court, he/she can file a direct appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.  The rules for direct appeals are governed by PA’s Rules of Appellate Procedure. Rule 902 provides:

    Manner 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.

    Pursuant to Rule 903, a defendant has to file his/her notice of appeal within 30 days the entry of the order, i.e., the defendant is convicted of a crime.

    Appealable Trial Issues

    In order to file a direct appeal, there must be legal grounds to appeal the case, and the lawyer has to properly preserve the legal issues during trial for appeal.  There are many legal issues the defense lawyer can preserve for purposes of a direct appeal.

    Probably one of the most common issues is whether the trial judge allowed evidence to come in the trial when he/she should not have.  Inadmissible evidence can be a document or testimony of a witness while on the stand. For example, if during a possession of guns and firearms trial in Philadelphia, the prosecutor wants to admit evidence that is inadmissible, the defense lawyer would make a timely objection to the inadmissible evidence.  Further, the lawyer must provide grounds or reasons for the objection so that they get on the record.  If the defendant is convicted, after the trial judge allowed the inadmissible evidence, he now has a right to appeal his case to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania for direct review of the mistakes made by the judge at trial.

    A direct appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is similar to appealing to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.  The only difference is that you would only file this type of a direct appeal if you were convicted in a Pennsylvania federal court as opposed to state court.

    Pennsylvania Criminal Lawyer Direct Appeals – FREE Consultations

    Our criminal defense lawyers have extensive experience handling direct appeals after a criminal defendant is convicted of a crime in Philadelphia. It is important to have an experienced criminal trial lawyer who has actual trial experience to be able to identify legal errors at trial and sentencing when filing an appeal or a PCRA petition.

    Our lawyers have over 40 years of combined trial experience.  Call (215) 564-0644 for a free consultation.

    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. Since each case is unique, discussion of prior outcomes and settlements in past cases is no guarantee of a similar outcome in current or future cases. Contacting our lawyers via the email contact form on this website does not create an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through the contact form.

    David S. Nenner

    "Top Rated Criminal Defense Lawyer"

    Not guilty on 1st Degree MURDER CHARGE (dec. 2022, Pottsville, Pa)

    Mr. Nenner's client faced first degree murder, third degree murder and various other charges. The Commonwealth alleged that Mr. Whitted stabbed and killed a driver after an incident at a red light in West Brunswick Township. Throughout the trial, Mr. Nenner argued...

    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 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.