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


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.


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.


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) 515-0042 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.

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