Bucks County, like the rest of Pennsylvania, is governed by a criminal defense appeal system that is consistent throughout the entire state. This system starts once a case is heard at the Court of Common Pleas and a verdict has been reached, at which point an individual has the right to challenge that guilty verdict to a higher court. Below, an experienced Bucks County criminal lawyer discusses what you should know about appealing a case and the importance of legal representation.
If a person is acquitted and found not guilty, there’d be no right to appeal because there’d be no reason to appeal. However, if a person was found guilty and sentenced but determines that a court—whether it be a judge or jury—made a legal decision that was contrary to the law, then that person has a right to take an appeal directly to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.
An individual taking such an appeal would need the services of an experienced Pennsylvania appellate attorney. This is an appellate attorney who is not specific to Bucks County, but can be specific to any county because the procedures are the same and the Superior Court treats all counties equally.
The superior court requires a brief to be written with stated reasons as to why the individual wishes to appeal. That brief would be prepared often up to hundreds of pages and would describe everything that occurred at trial and the reasons why a person feels that things went wrong.
The Commonwealth then has the ability and right to submit a brief of their own in opposition. Then the Superior Court’s governing body of judges will read the briefs and in some cases allow oral argument so that an attorney can come before them with the Commonwealth, and they can both argue before a series of judges where questions can be asked back and forth and a decision ultimately rendered.
A person has 30 days in which to file an appeal to the next highest court, which would be the Superior Court, where the individual must state the specific grounds for why they wish to appeal and the exact reasons for such an appeal based upon the law. This is important because this is a timely matter. Should a person miss this 30-day time limit, a person can be prevented from taking any such appeals past the trial level.
Therefore, it is essential for an individual, upon conviction for a charge for which they feel they should not have been convicted, to immediately seek out the services of a Pennsylvania appellate criminal attorney because the time limit for such an appeal is not a matter that can be moved, extended, or changed. It’s a 30-day fixed date that is set from the date an individual is sentenced.
In most cases, a decision is made solely based upon the briefs or legal paperwork provided by the attorneys. It is important that an individual seeking to take an appeal of a criminal matter to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court obtain the services of a well-experienced appellate attorney from Pennsylvania.
Without an attorney, the chances of success are almost none. Even after the Superior Court makes a verdict or decision on a particular matter, if an accused still disagrees, an accused can petition the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to hear the matter. Again, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has the decision-making power to decide which cases get heard by them, and it is only after they decide to take a case in that matter can be litigated before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. If an individual at an appellate level wishes to take such an appeal to the Supreme Court, it is essential to obtain the services of an attorney with the experience, knowledge, and wherewithal to get the matter heard before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.