FREE CONSULTATIONS

Email or Call (215) 564-0644

    Will a Pennsylvania Court Grant a PCRA Petition if an Alibi Witness was Unavailable at a Murder Trial?

    Question: My son was convicted of murder in a trial in Philadelphia. He had an alibi on the night of the murder, but the alibi witness was not at trial. Can we file a PCRA petition to get a new trial because he had an alibi?

    Answer: In general, after a defendant has been convicted of murder in a Philadelphia criminal case, he has 3 options, and one of them is filing a PCRA petition. The other 2 options are filing post-sentence motions and filing a direct appeal. These 3 options are time sensitive. In other words, these motions have to be filed within a certain time period. Therefore, it is important to talk to a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to determine which options are available to your son.

    Post-Sentence Motions

    The first option is to file a post-sentence motion filed with the trial judge. The purpose of the motion is to ask the trial judge to reconsider his/her decision. Post-sentence motions must be filed within 10 days of the entry of the sentencing order.

    Under Pennsylvania criminal rules of procedure, a criminal defendant can file certain post-sentence motions. These motions basically ask the trial judge to reconsider his/her decision.

    Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 720 governs post-trial procedures and provides how post-sentence motions are filed, grounds for filing the motion, etc.

    Again, we would need to discuss the facts of your son’s Philadelphia murder case in detail because the facts will determine the grounds for filing the motion.

    For instance, the defense attorney filed a Notice of Alibi Defense. However, the alibi witness failed to show up at trial and instead showed up after the conviction. A post-sentence motion for a new trial may be filed based on the fact that the alibi witness is now available. The motion may be granted if it can be shown that the lawyer made all reasonable attempts to secure the alibi witness for trial, but due to some unforeseen circumstance, the witness did not show up.

    Related: Lost a Criminal Trial in Philadelphia? What to Know About Pennsylvania’s Post-Trial (Criminal) Procedures

    Direct Appeal

    The second option is to file a direct appeal. A defendant convicted of murder in a Philadelphia criminal case may file a direct appeal 30 days from the date of the sentencing order. However, if a post-sentence motion is filed but denied, a defendant has 30 days from the date the motion was denied to file a direct appeal.

    For instance, if in your son’s case, the judge did not allow the alibi witness to testify at trial, a direct appeal may be filed on the grounds that the trial judge made an error on his/her evidence ruling. By not allowing the alibi witness to testify, the judge may have committed an error in violation of PA’s rules of evidence. The erroneous evidentiary ruling may have prevented your son from being acquitted for the murder.

    PCRA Petition

    The third option your son has is filing a PCRA Petition. This may be filed within 1 year of the date of the final sentencing order. However, if a post-sentence motion or direct appeal was filed, then a defendant has to file a PCRA petition within 1 year of the entry of the order denying the post-sentence motion or direct appeal.

    There are many different grounds of appeal defendants may argue in PCRA petitions. Again, we would need to know the circumstances of your son’s case in order to determine what grounds of appeal may apply.

    For instance, if your son’s lawyer knew about the potential alibi defense but failed to file the required Notice of Alibi Defense, your son may be able to file a PCRA petition based on ineffective assistance of counsel.

    We know all of this information can be very confusing and overwhelming. It is best that you speak to an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer who handles appeals and PCRA petitions as soon as possible.

    Call us today to schedule a FREE and confidential consultation to discuss your case: (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"
    (2015-2022)

    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...

    Att. MURDER CHARGES – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (April 2022, PHILA)

    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...

    MURDER, Robbery CHARGES – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (MAY 2021, PHILA)

    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...

    MURDER CHARGE – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (MAY 2021, PHILA)

    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.

    Drug Charges in Philadelphia PA State Court – Possession of a Controlled Substance

    In most criminal drug cases in Philadelphia, there are two common charges or offenses: Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver. In addition to these drug charges, there are other drug related charges, such...

    Drug Charges in Philadelphia PA State Court – What is “Possession”

    Page last reviewed and updated: October 20, 2019 One of the most common types of criminal state (PA) cases in Philadelphia is possession of drugs. Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCS) and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver (PWID) often...

    Pennsylvania Second Degree Murder (AKA: Felony Murder) Law

    Philadelphia criminal lawyer David S. Nenner discusses the current status of second degree murder law in Pennsylvania. This is also known as the felony murder rule. Get info about PA court decisions and the agency theory. Not every case of death during the commission of a felony will result in a second degree murder conviction in PA.

    Philadelphia Murder Cases – Police Investigation Tactics

    Questioning Police Officer Tactics in Philadelphia Murder Cases Within the last 10 years, there have been several murder Philadelphia criminal cases in which the accused individuals were acquitted of the crimes. In these cases, the individuals spent months, if not...

    Murder Charges in Pennsylvania – Murder Law in Pennsylvania

    An explanation of Pennsylvania murder laws including Section 2502. What is murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree and murder in the third degree. Get a summary of the definitions under Pennsylvania criminal law.