My Son Was Convicted of Murder in Philadelphia After a Jury Trial and Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison. Do We Have Time to Appeal His Case?

Appeal rights in a Philadelphia criminal case are extraordinarily time sensitive and very complex. In fact, criminal appellate law is one of the most complex areas of law, and there are many nuances. Therefore, it is critical to speak to an appellate criminal attorney immediately. This post will discuss two of the most important time deadlines after a criminal trial in Philadelphia.


After a criminal trial in Philadelphia, a criminal defendant has 30 days to appeal trial rulings and errors to a state appeals court. In a Philadelphia murder case, the defendant can file an appeal with the first level appellate court, the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

Under the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure, a criminal defendant has 30 days to file an appeal. The clock starts ticking the day the judgement is entered or docketed.

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

There are multiple issues which can be raised in an appeal, including:

  • sufficiency of the evidence (i.e., was there sufficient evidence of each element of the crime?),
  • trial rulings on evidence (i.e., did the court make an error?), and
  • jury instructions (i.e., was there an error in the jury instructions?).

It’s also important to note that in some cases, a post-sentence motion may be filed. For instance, a motion for reconsideration of a trial ruling may be appropriate. However, attempting to rehash an argument made at trial will not be successful. There must be some basis for the post-sentence motion, such as a new appellate court ruling which affects the ruling. These types of motions must be filed within 10 days after the sentencing order is entered.


Whether an appeal is filed or not, a criminal defendant in a murder case has a right to file a Post Conviction Relief Act petition. Pennsylvania PCRA petitions must be filed within 1 year after entry of the judgement. The 1 year time limitation is a jurisdictional hook. This means that courts will not even entertain PCRA issues unless the petition was filed within the 1 year. However, there are some limited exceptions. One exception allows petitions to be filed after the 1 year deadline when new evidence is discovered, and even then, the petition must be filed within 60 days after uncovering the new evidence.

The most common issue raised in a PCRA petition is ineffective assistance of counsel (IAC). An IAC claim may be raised when the defense attorney’s conduct was not reasonably designed to advance the interests of the client/defendant, and as a result, the defendant was prejudiced.


If you’d like a FREE consultation for a murder case appeal in Philadelphia, please contact our office. (215) 515-0042

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