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    Philadelphia Criminal Defense Appeals – What Is the Difference Between Direct Appeals and PCRA Petitions in Pennsylvania?

     David Nenner, Philadelphia, PA Criminal Defense Lawyer – Drug and Murder Charges David Nenner, a Philadelphia, PA Criminal Defense Lawyer
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    After a conviction of a crime at the conclusion of a Philadelphia criminal trial, whether it is for murder charges, gun charges or drug charges, he/she may appeal the decision.  However, there are different types of appeals, and each type of appeal has its own deadlines and requirements.

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

    Direct Appeal

    After being found guilty, a defendant has 30 days to appeal the conviction by filing a direct appeal.  That means the clock starts ticking the day after the sentencing or the date the sentencing order is entered by the court clerk.  See Rule 903 of Pennsylvania’s Rules of Appellate Procedure.  In general, if a direct appeal is not filed with the Superior Court of Pennsylvania within that time frame, a defendant will be barred from filing a direct appeal after that even if there are legitimate issues for appeal. There are limited exceptions to the 30 day time period.  Thus, even if 30 days have passed, it is best to talk to a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer about the case.

    There are different grounds of direct appeals, and a common ground of appeal is whether the lower court made a reversible error.  An example of a lower court committing a reversible error is when it allows inadmissible evidence to be admitted as evidence at trial against the defendant.  A criminal defense lawyer would object to the inadmissible evidence.  An objection on the record preserves the appealable issue which allows a defendant to file a direct appeal if convicted.

    It is important to note that if a criminal defense lawyer does not object to inadmissible evidence at trial, a defendant cannot file a direct appeal later.  By not objecting, the defense counsel “waives” the claim.  Thus, there is no claim for the Pennsylvania Superior Court to review.  In other words, the PA Superior Court can only review direct appeals if the issues were presented to the lower court.

    If an appeal is accepted for review, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania reviews the appeal and determines whether a reversible error was committed.  If so, the court may order a new trial or modify the lower court’s ruling.  If a defendant does not file a direct appeal, he/she may be able to file a PCRA petition.  In addition, even if a defendant files a direct appeal and is unsuccessful, he/she may still be able to file a PCRA petition.  Stay tuned for a discussion of PA Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) petitions, which have their own grounds of appeal.

    Philadelphia PCRA Petitions

    Our Philadelphia criminal lawyers handle PCRA petitions and appeals. For a free consultation, please call our office.

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