Email or Call (215) 564-0644

    PA PCRA Petitions – Can a Criminal Lawyer Be Ineffective During Plea Bargaining?

    Question: My son was convicted of second degree murder.  We just found out that the prosecutor offered a plea bargain before trial, but my son’s lawyer never told him about it.  Shouldn’t he have told my son about the plea bargain? What are our options? Can we appeal his case?

    Answer: Yes, you may appeal your son’s case; however, it is best to talk to a Philadelphia criminal appeals lawyer about your options.  There are different types of appeals you can make, and we will discuss direct appeals and PCRA petitions below.

    Direct Appeals

    There are different grounds for a direct appeal, and one of them is a judge’s improper ruling during trial.  Even though your question is about the lawyer’s action regarding a plea bargain, there may be grounds for a direct appeal.  However, we would need to review the trial transcript to properly evaluate the issue.

    The deadline for a direct appeal is within 30 days of the date the sentencing order is entered, or 30 days from the date of conviction.  Therefore, if your son’s sentencing order was entered 3 months ago or if he was convicted 3 months ago, then we would not be able to file a direct appeal.

    PCRA Petitions

    From your question, it seems that your son may be able to file a PCRA petition.  The deadline to file a PCRA petition is within a year from the date of judgment becomes final.

    Like direct appeals, there are different grounds of appeal for PCRA petitions.  One of the most common grounds is ineffective assistance of counsel, which is the likely ground of appeal in your son’s case.  Ineffective assistance of counsel occurs when an attorney’s legal representation of their client falls below an objective standard of reasonableness.  One of the times when an attorney can be ineffective is during plea bargaining.  Defendants may enter into a plea bargain under the guidance of their lawyers.  When a prosecutor offers a deal, a criminal defense lawyer must explain the offer and provide legal counsel/advice to their client.  When the parties enter into a plea bargain, a criminal trial is avoided.

    Related: PA Criminal Appeals & PCRA – Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

    Direct appeals and PCRA petitions are not exclusive of each other.  If a defendant’s direct appeal is unsuccessful, they may still file a PCRA petition.

    Philadelphia PCRA and Appeals Lawyer

    David Nenner is a Top Rated Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer and has been a criminal lawyer since 1985.  He has handled countless criminal defense cases, including PCRA petitions. Mr. Nenner offers FREE consultations.  (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"

    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...