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    What are PCRA Petitions and When to File? By a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer

    FAQ: My son has been convicted of a serious drug charge and gun possession, and he has been in jail for 6 months. We want to file an appeal, but don’t know if we can. I don’t think my son’s trial lawyer knew what he was doing and don’t want him to file an appeal for us. What are his appeal options? I’ve heard of something called a PCRA petition, but have no idea what that is.

    Answer: After a defendant has been convicted of a crime, there are different appeals he may file.

    Direct Appeal

    Pursuant to Pennsylvania’s criminal law, a defendant convicted of a crime in Philadelphia criminal court can file a direct appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania pursuant to Rule 902 of Pennsylvania’s Rules of Appellate Procedure. However, the defendant must file his appeal within 30 days the entry of the order convicting him of a crime.

    Since your son has been in jail for 6 months now, he missed the deadline to file a direct appeal. However, there are limited situations when the 30 day time period may not apply. Speak to a criminal lawyer immediately to see if an exception applies to your son’s case, so that he may file a direct appeal.

    Post Conviction Relief Act Petition (PCRA)

    Even though your son probably cannot file a direct appeal, he may file a PCRA petition, which is another type of appeal that is different from a direct appeal. A defendant may file a PCRA petition if he is convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania and is serving time in prison, is on probation/parole or has been sentenced to death.

    The deadline to file a PCRA petition is within one year from the date the judgement becomes final (one year from the date of sentencing or one year from the date of the final decision of the direct appeal).

    In your son’s situation, he has been convicted of a crime and is currently in jail. Since he has only been in prison for 6 months, it has not been 1 year from the date of judgment. Though there are some exceptions to the 1 year rule, we do not need to discuss them because your son did not miss the 1 year deadline. Therefore, he may file a PCRA petition.

    Claims for a PCRA Petition

    There are different issues a defendant can raise in a PCRA petition. Without having the trial transcript and talking to your son, we would not be able to determine the issues. However, some of the common issues include ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct and newly discovered evidence.

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

    You mentioned that your son’s trial attorney seemed like he didn’t know what he was doing. There may be a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. Again, we would need the trial transcript and more information in order to determine that.

    We offer FREE consultations. Feel free to contact our office to schedule one. 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

    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.

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