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DAVID CLARK
Criminal Defense Attorney

Montgomery County Appeals Lawyer

While the criminal justice system is set up to treat all those accused of crimes fairly and equally, not everyone always receives a fair trial. If a judge or jury found you guilty of a criminal offense, but you do not believe that you received a fair trial, then you may have grounds for an appeal. A Montgomery County appeals lawyer may be able to evaluate your case and determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support an appeal in your case.

Appeals are complex and involve specialized knowledge about appellate procedures. If you do not strictly follow all appellate rules and guidelines, you risk losing your right to appeal. A dedicated criminal defense lawyer could protect your appeal rights and seek post-conviction relief on your behalf.

Common Grounds for Appeals

There are a variety of grounds for appeals of criminal convictions in both state and federal courts. Many of these relate to allegations that the defendants did not receive a fair trial. Some common grounds for appeal include:

  • Failure of the trial judge to give appropriate jury instructions
  • Ineffective assistance of defense counsel at trial
  • Newly discovered evidence or witnesses
  • Prosecutorial or police misconduct

Other reasons that might form the basis for an appeal include incorrect evidentiary rulings by the judge and legal errors in sentencing. These are just a few of the reasons that individuals may want to appeal their criminal convictions. An appeals lawyer in Montgomery County may be able to help individuals through the process of appealing a criminal conviction.

Appellate Rules and Procedures

After trial courts issue a sentencing order in criminal cases, defendants could challenge their convictions by filing a notice of appeal within 30 days to seek review by the Pennsylvania Superior Court. They could also file various motions for relief with the trial court within ten days of its order, such as motions for a new trial, motions to modify the sentence, or motions to set aside the criminal convictions. The appropriate steps to take to challenge criminal convictions vary widely from case to case.

If the defendants choose to file post-sentence motions for relief, the trial court has 120 days within which to rule on the motions. If the trial court does not rule within 120 days, the law presumes that the court has denied the motions, thus giving the defendants 30 days from that date within which to file their notices of appeal.

On appeal, the trial judge must submit an opinion to the Superior Court defending its decision, and the defendants must provide a statement of errors in their cases. Both sides then have the opportunity to write briefs, which are more comprehensive document detailing their positions. Following the filing of briefs, oral arguments before the Superior Court are optional.

Montgomery County Post-Conviction Relief

In some situations, where the Pennsylvania Superior Court has denied appeals, Pennsylvania’s Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) may allow defendants to challenge their criminal convictions further. Generally, individuals who seek relief according to the PCRA must file their petitions within one year of entry of the final judgment in their cases.

However, there are some exceptions for incarcerated individuals or when new evidence arises after this one-year period has passed. As post-conviction relief petitions are limited in scope, consulting a skilled attorney in Montgomery County may be wise.

How a Montgomery County Appeals Attorney Could Help

Although criminal justice system contains many safeguards to protect the rights of defendants during criminal proceedings, there are still situations in which violations of rights occur.

The appellate process may give individuals in this position a means of obtaining relief from unfair or unjust convictions and sentences in criminal cases. In this situation, a Montgomery County appeals lawyer may be instrumental in being able to overturn a conviction or sentence.

Criminal appeals tend to be lengthy and complicated procedures that require experienced legal representation and advocacy. Getting the legal advice that you need in a situation involving an appeal can be crucial to achieving your desired results. Call today to get started on your appeal.