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Philadelphia Post-Conviction Relief Lawyer

Experienced criminal defense lawyers often hear the statement, “I should have hired you sooner.” All too often, inexperienced clients hire equally inexperienced lawyers who are unprepared for trial, do not litigate all of the necessary motions, do not appropriately object to improper evidence, or fail to ask key questions when cross examining government witnesses. An unprepared or inexperienced criminal defense attorney may even fail to a call a witness their client wants to testify in court on their behalf. Mistakes such as these are far too common, and they typically lead to improper convictions. Potential clients who have been convicted under these circumstances often wonder what can be done.

Both the United States Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution guarantee defendants the right to counsel, and a guarantee of effective counsel is implicit in this right. In order to fulfill their obligations in this regard, both Pennsylvania and federal courts are able to review the records of a criminal proceeding to ensure defendants were not represented by defense counsel with a sub-standard level of performance. If the court realizes a mistake was made that may have affected the outcome of a case, a defendant may be granted a new trial.

Our experienced criminal defense team has extensive experience successfully litigating petitions for post-conviction relief in both federal and state courts throughout Pennsylvania. In federal courts, these post-conviction relief petitions are called Section 2245 and Section 2255 petitions. In Pennsylvania state courts, they are filed under the federal Post-Conviction Relief Act.

In situations like these, a fresh pair of experienced eyes may uncover a mistake made by a previous lawyer at any point during motion hearings, plea proceedings, or trial. An experienced Philadelphia defense attorney may also be able to discover whether a claim was left out of an appeal. In many cases, these post-conviction proceedings represent the last opportunity for convicted persons to be given a new trial. When faced with the prospect of considerable jail time, it is imperative to hire experienced and dedicated lawyers familiar with these specialized proceedings.

Post-Conviction Relief Act

The Post-Conviction Relief Act, or PCRA, provides a defendant with the ability to appeal his or her case when the Superior Court of Pennsylvania denied their appeal. However, a PCRA claim must be filed within one year of the date in which a case was closed and a defendant lost their appellate rights. The only exception to this rule occurs when a defendant is in custody. In this circumstance, a PRCA may be filed a number of ways after the passing of the one year rule. The one year rule may also be broken upon the discovery of new evidence.

While a PCRA can be advantageous for any convicted individual, the process can only begin if the conviction or sentence was the result of at least one of the following:

  • A violation of the Constitution of Pennsylvania, United States Constitution, or laws of the United States that undermined the ability to determine truth and a reliable adjudication of innocence or guilt
  • Ineffective counsel that undermined the process of determining truth
  • An unlawfully induced admission of guilt in which circumstances point to an innocent petitioner pleading guilty due to the inducement
  • A government official’s improper obstruction of a petitioner’s right to appeal when an appealable issue existed in the trial court
  • A sentence being imposed that exceeds the lawful maximum sentence
  • The unavailability of exculpatory evidence during the trial that has since become available and would have resulted in a different outcome had it been introduced at trial
  • A tribunal proceeding taking place without jurisdiction
  • The failure to pursue the issue on direct appeal, during the trial, or prior to the trial could not have resulted from a rational, tactical, or strategic decision by a defendant’s counsel
  • The allegation of a mistake that has yet to be waived or litigated

We receive emails and phone calls time and time again from individuals who are not satisfied with the result of their trial, unhappy with the legal system, and unhappy with the way they were treated during the trial process.

Our talented, experienced, and diligent criminal defense attorneys believe that everyone deserves to benefit from the essential human right of justice. As such, we fight for our clients every step of the way, even when other attorneys have long since given up hope.

Whether you want to learn more about post-conviction relief and the appeals process or simply benefit from a case evaluation, we can help. Contact us today to learn more and consult with one of our experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys. Call us at 215-454-6680.

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