FAQ: My fiancé was convicted of attempted murder in Philadelphia and has been in jail for the last 2 months. We feel that his lawyer did not do a good job in representing him. There were people that would have testified for my boyfriend who were not called as witnesses. How can we determine whether my fiancé’s lawyer knew what he was doing? Can we file an appeal to overturn the conviction if his lawyer was incompetent?
Answer: Your fiancé may be able to file a PCRA petition to appeal his conviction. If you feel that his lawyer was incompetent, it is possible that your fiancé may have an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, which is one of the top issues raised in PCRA petitions. However, it is important to stress that we cannot properly assess whether there is a viable ineffective assistance of counsel claim without reading the entire trial transcript and talking to your fiancé. His lawyer may have had a reasonable basis for not calling certain people as witnesses.
Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Defendants in Philadelphia criminal cases have a right to a competent criminal defense lawyer. When a criminal defense lawyer does not provide competent counsel, a defendant may be convicted of a crime. As a result, the defendant may file a PCRA petition raising an ineffective assistance of counsel claim, which is defined as:
Ineffective assistance of counsel which, in the circumstances of the particular case, so undermined the truth-determining process that no reliable adjudication of guilt or innocence could have taken place.
See Post Conviction Relief Act Section 9543(a)(2)(ii).
An ineffective assistance of counsel claim will only be successful in a PCRA petition if a defendant can prove the following:
- the claim has arguable merit;
- counsel did not have a reasonable basis for the act or omission; and
- the defendant was prejudiced by his counsel’s actions i.e., the defendant would not have been convicted of a crime but for his counsel’s action or omission.
Some examples of how trial counsel is ineffective include, but are not limited to, failing to object during trial, failing to advise a defendant of his right to appeal, failing to present evidence at trial, failing to request a certain jury instruction or failing to present mitigating evidence at sentencing.
There is a deadline for when defendants can file PCRA petitions, which is within a year from the date the judgment becomes final.
We offer FREE consultations. PCRA petitions and appeals are very complicated. It is best to talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has handled appeals and PCRA petitions. (215) 564-0644
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