What is the Pittsburgh Criminal Appeals Process?
If you are convicted of a crime in Pittsburgh, you can appeal. This means you can ask a higher court to review the lower court or the jury’s decision to convict you or review whether the sentence imposed was appropriate.
To appeal a criminal conviction in Pittsburgh, you must file a Notice of Appeal with the Pennsylvania Superior Court within 30 days of being sentenced. We have found in certain cases that it is necessary to first file a post-sentencing motion with the trial court, which must be done within 10 days of sentencing. If the trial court denies that motion, we have 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal.
Learn About Your Rights in a Criminal Appeal Case in Pittsburgh
There are many reasons to appeal a criminal conviction in Pittsburgh. There may have been procedural or legal errors or an infringement upon your Constitutional rights. Common reasons to appeal a conviction include:
- Prosecutorial misconduct;
- Juror misconduct;
- Ineffective assistance of counsel;
- Improperly admitted evidence;
- Incorrect jury instructions;
- Lack of sufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict.
How Long Does a Criminal Appeal Take in Pittsburgh?
There are strict deadlines imposed by court administration in order to keep criminal appeals in Pittsburgh moving. However, the court’s caseload and any granted extensions to deadlines can delay an appeal, so the time it takes to receive a decision on your criminal appeal will vary.
Once we file your notice of appeal, the trial court will likely order us to file a document called the Statement of Errors Complained of on Appeal, as required by the Pennsylvania Rule of Appellate Procedure 1925. The trial judge will then issue a Rule 1925 Opinion.
The Superior Court will then order us to file a brief explaining the legal reasons why we think the conviction or the sentence imposed was in error, usually within 40 days. We must also include a reproduced record of the trial. After we file our brief and reproduced record, the prosecution has 30 days to file its brief, arguing that the lower court was correct. We will then have the right to file a reply brief to the prosecution’s brief, if necessary.
Your case will then be submitted to a three-judge panel of the Superior Court, and at this point, a decision can be a few days or many months away. Oral argument may be scheduled. Thereafter, the judges vote on a decision, and it need not be unanimous. If two of the judges agree, one of them will write an “Opinion of the Court.” The other judge in the majority may write a concurring opinion. The dissenting judge may write a dissenting opinion.
How Many Criminal Appeals Can a Case Have in Pittsburgh?
If you lose your initial appeal, you can file a motion to have your case reviewed by a larger group of the Court’s judges. This is called an en banc appeal, and if your motion for an en banc appeal is granted your case will follow the same briefing schedule as the initial appeal.
If your en banc appeal fails, you can petition The Pennsylvania Supreme Court to hear your case. If the Court accepts your case for review, each party files briefs and oral argument is scheduled. After oral argument, the Court will issue a majority opinion and perhaps concurring and dissenting opinions.
If you’ve exhausted all of your appeals, you can petition for Post Conviction Relief (PCRA) within one year after your last appeal concluded.
Contact a Pittsburgh Criminal Appeals Lawyer
In every step of the appeals process, you need an attorney with experience in the process as well as knowledge of the legal reasons your conviction should be reversed. We have helped many defendants in Pittsburgh with their appeals and PCRA petitions. Call Mosser Appeals to get the justice you deserve.