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.
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.
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
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