Criminal Appeals, Trial Process in PA | Ketchel Law - Criminal Defense

Criminal Appeals and Trial Process in Pennsylvania

CRIMINAL APPEALS AND TRIAL PROCESS IN PENNSYLVANIA

The court process for both criminal trials and criminal appeals is complicated and confusing to most people. There is a very specific methodology to the progression of criminal cases, as well as very strict timelines for criminal appeals.

With the stress and worry of criminal charges pending against you, it can be debilitating to try and navigate the criminal justice system on your own.

h ease one of the burdens you are facing. Call and speak with an experienced Pittsburgh criminal lawyer to have them assess your case and give you the answers you need.

Your initial hearing is a critical stage of the process.

Being charged with a crime does not mean that you will be convicted. It is extremely important that you are represented properly throughout the duration of your case.

OUR NUMBER ONE GOAL: GETTING YOUR CRIMINAL CHARGES DISMISSED.
CALL KETCHEL LAW TODAY: 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

CRIMINAL COURTS IN PENNSYLVANIA

There are various stages that a case can progress through—and there are different courts for each of the stages. Depending on the severity of your charges and how your case progresses, you could potentially cycle through one, or as many as all, of the various courts.

Each case is different and there is no predicting the outcome of any trial.

The main courts in the Pennsylvania criminal justice system include:

  • Minor and Special Courts, including Municipal Courts;
  • Courts of Common Pleas, which are the PA trial courts;
  • Superior Court, which is the PA appellate court;
  • Supreme Court, which is PA’s highest court;
  • Commonwealth Court, which is only for cases involving state and local government/agencies.

Each of these courts plays a specific role in the processing criminal cases. You cannot skip to Superior Court, for example, if you have not first had your trial in the Court of Common Pleas. The proper steps must be followed in order to move your case forward.

Unless the charges against you are dropped, you will need proper representation for your criminal trial.

A knowledgeable criminal attorney is the best way to make sure your case is progressing in the proper manner and deadlines are being met.

OUR NUMBER ONE GOAL: GETTING YOUR CRIMINAL CHARGES DISMISSED.
CALL KETCHEL LAW TODAY: 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

BASIC STEPS IN A CRIMINAL TRIAL

In each criminal trial proceeds in the same manner. With any crime, what typically sets the process in motion is a person’s arrest for suspected crime. Once a person has been arrested, the rest of the criminal trial process begins to unfold.

The series of steps in the criminal trial process typically goes as follows:

  1. Arrest;
  2. Preliminary Arraignment: occurs in some, but not all, cases;
  3. Formal Arraignment: generally where you are informed of the specific charges against you and bail is determined;
  4. Preliminary Hearing: Often considered the most important step in the pre-trial process. It is most often where plea deals are discussed and a defense attorney will seek to have charges dismissed or motions heard to deplete the amount of evidence used against you;
  5. Pre-Trial Conference: a hearing held in front of the judge so both sides can give case status updates and notify the court of any plea deals;
  6. Trial: if no plea deal is struck and your charges have not been dismissed, your case will move forward to the trial phase. If you are found not guilty, the case ends here;
  7. Sentencing: if you are found guilty at your trial, you will face the judge for sentencing. This will determine jail time and fines, if any, as well as any additional punishment the judge sees fit.

The steps in a criminal trial may be similar in criminal cases, however, the facts and circumstances in each is unique. To better understand your specific case, you should speak to a qualified criminal attorney immediately.

CRIMINAL APPEALS PROCESS

If you feel you have been wrongly convicted of a crime, you may have the opportunity to appeal. However, the appeal process is very specific and you will need the help of an experienced Pittsburgh criminal appeals attorney.

All appeals must have an issue of law that occurred in the trial court. This means legal errors made during your trial. Issues of fact will not be considered by appeals court. Therefore, in order to have your case heard, you must state the specific areas of law that the trial court got wrong.

Some of the most common areas of law addressed by an appeals court include:

  • Failure to give the jury proper instructions;
  • The inclusion of evidence in the trial that should have been omitted;
  • Ineffective assistance of counsel;
  • Incorrect use of law;
  • Witness perjury;
  • Excessive or inappropriate sentencing.

If your case does not have any question of law, the appeals court will not hear your case. You must be very specific and have everything well documented. The time constraint on filing appeals is strict and you must file timely. An experienced appeals attorney is invaluable in keeping your appeal on track.

Once your criminal trial is complete and you have received your sentence, the clock begins ticking on your appeal. You must file your notice of appeal in the trial court where you were convicted within thirty (30) days of your sentencing. That does not allow you much time. You and your attorney must immediately begin planning the next defense.

Once your notice of appeal has been filed, the court will ask for a brief to be filed by stating what specific areas of law are in question. They want to know what issues you plan to raise in your appeal. This is called a Statement of Errors Complained of on Appeal and is usually submitted within twenty-one (21) days of filing.

Once the Statement of Errors is filed, the trial court responds with its reasoning behind the rulings in question. This is called a Rule 1925 Opinion.

Once the trial court’s response is files, the case then moves to the Superior Court. When the Superior Court receives the case, you then have forty (40) days to submit the complete record of your criminal trial along with your appeals brief. This brief is the most important part of your appeal. The prosecution then has fourteen (14) days from receipt of the brief to respond.

Oral arguments are heard in many, but not all, appeals cases. If oral arguments are heard, you and your attorney will receive a notification requiring you to appear in court to present your argument in front of a three-judge panel.

If the Superior Court does not grant you the relief you seek, it is possible to appeal to the PA Supreme Court within thirty (30) days of the decision. However, this is more complicated still, and the Supreme Court decides which cases it will hear. You have no right to a Supreme Court hearing.

Appeals cases are a special area of law that is not undertaken by all attorneys. To file a successful appeal, you need a very experienced attorney who has knowledge of the structure, the deadlines and the ability to produce a well-written brief.
If you have been convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania, the best way to defend your rights and your future is to contact an experienced appeals attorney for a free consultation.

An experienced appeals attorney can help you understand your rights and provide sound legal advice regarding your original trial and any areas of law that may make your case eligible for appeal.

OUR NUMBER ONE GOAL: GETTING YOUR CRIMINAL CHARGES DISMISSED.
CALL KETCHEL LAW TODAY: 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

HOW KETCHEL LAW CAN HELP

You have guaranteed rights; we will make certain that your rights are protected and do everything possible to have your charges dismissed or sentenced significantly reduced.

Attorney Justin J. Ketchel is a member of and certified by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers affording him cutting edge information which addresses the most current and relative issues in the criminal defense arena.

A strong appeal analyzes every angle and can make the difference between your freedom and being locked up.

Learn More about Defending Your Rights in Pennsylvania:

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We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

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OUR NUMBER ONE GOAL: HAVING YOUR CRIMINAL CHARGES REDUCED OR DISMISSED.

CALL KETCHEL LAW TODAY: 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION