Appealing a Murder Conviction in Pennsylvania
Facing A Murder Conviction in Pennsylvania
Learn about what appealing a murder conviction is in Pennsylvania and what to do if you or a loved one is facing accusations or criminal homicide charges. Facing a murder conviction is a pivotable moment in a person’s life. Is it the time to reach out to an inexperienced criminal attorney or a former prosecutor who touts his convictions but lacks experience gaining murder acquittals? Before it’s too late, call our team. Facing murder charges anywhere in Pennsylvania and need help, call the Ciccarelli Legal Team at (610) 692-8700.
Getting the Best Defense where you need to Appeal a Murder Conviction
Reach out to the Ciccarelli Legal Team, when you need to appeal a murder conviction in the greater Philadelphia metro area, including Chester County, Bucks County, Delaware County, Lancaster County, Montgomery County and throughout Pennsylvania. Then ask yourself, why you are not calling now and scheduling a time to meet with the Ciccarelli Legal TEam Call now at (610) 692-8700.
Our team of lawyers at Ciccarelli Law Offices is ready to fight for you. When the threat of prosecution for homicide and murder is real, you need to look for the best options and find a top murder defense team serving Chester County and beyond. Based in West Chester (Chester County) in the Philadelphia Metro Area, the Ciccarelli Legal Team defends the rights of murder and homicide defendants throughout Pennsylvania.
Information on a Chester County PA Murder Conviction and Appeal
If your murder trial did not have the outcome you had hoped for, it is important that you understand that the ability to appeal a murder conviction—or any criminal conviction—is not based on whether you believe the jury reached the wrong conclusion. In fact, the fastest way to lose virtually any appeal is to only argue that the jury’s decision was wrong. Of course, you believe the jury decision was wrong—you were convicted—therefore this aspect of the trial is almost meaningless to the appellate court. This means that you cannot challenge whether a witness told the truth, whether evidence against you was strong, etc. An appeal allows you to challenge specific legal decisions made by the lower court—in other words, your attorney must establish that an error occurred during your first trial. Some of the legal errors you may be able to claim include:
- Statement Suppression—If a motion to suppress a statement you made to a police officer which ultimately hurt your case was made and denied, this may be an issue for appeal. In Miranda v. Arizona, certain circumstances in which a jury may be prevented from hearing a defendant’s statement are clearly laid out.
- Evidence Suppression—If a motion to suppress evidence was entered by your attorney—and denied—that ruling can potentially be reviewed by an appellate court. Further, if evidence in your case was improperly seized, you may have a Fourth Amendment appeal.
- Insufficient Evidence. If there simply was not enough evidence introduced during the trial to definitively prove your guilt, there may be grounds for appeal.
- Incorrect Evidentiary Rulings—Whether or not certain evidence can be introduced in your case is bound by the Rules of Evidence and prior appellate court decisions—rules and decisions which specify the circumstances under which evidence is admissible.
- Lack of Proper Jury Instructions.
- Legal Definitions of the Elements of Your Crime.
- Prosecutorial Misconduct—If the prosecutor in your case pulled out all the stops to obtain a conviction against you by any means possible, rather than simply seeking justice, you may have grounds for an appeal. The conduct of a prosecutor before and during a trial are governed by specific rules—if the prosecutor in your Pennsylvania murder case broke these rules then appellate relief could be a possibility.
- Excessive Sentence Following Conviction—The lower courts do have some discretion when determining a sentence, however particularly in a murder case, they do not have absolute discretion.
If your appeal is successful, your specific claim will dictate the level of relief available. In other words, if your attorney has claimed on your behalf that there was not sufficient evidence, and the appellate court agrees, your conviction may be reversed. The circumstances of your case would determine whether the government could retry you on the same charges due to the double jeopardy laws. If your claim is that your sentence was excessive and the appellate court agrees, you may receive a new sentencing hearing—not a new trial. If your claim is regarding suppression of statements or evidence, you may receive a new trial.
Filing a first appeal following your murder trial is known as a “direct appeal,” and is intended to focus on mistakes of law at the trial level. If the judge in your Pennsylvania murder trial made incorrect decisions, or those which violate the law, then your conviction could potentially be overturned, allowing you to either be re-tried, or allowing your attorney to negotiate a better plea deal.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your murder conviction, you may be able to appeal one more time—to the United States Supreme Court—but generally only if the issues of your appeal revolve around the interpretation of the Constitution or the protections afforded U.S. citizens in the Amendments. A direct appeal must be filed quickly—within 30 days of your conviction. If you miss this time deadline, you may not be allowed to appeal any further, or, in some cases, you could be entitled to file a “collateral appeal,” which is filed under Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act and are based on one of the following seven grounds:
- Your legal representation was so ineffective that your guilt or innocence could not have reasonably been determined at trial.
- The sentence for your conviction was more than the state’s legal maximum.
- Evidence—which was not available during your trial, and will help prove your innocence—has been discovered.
- You had a legally valid reason to appeal, yet the government interfered with that ability.
- You were forced to enter a plea of guilty, even though you were innocent.
- Your trial cannot be trusted because your rights were so grossly violated.
- The court which tried your case did not have proper jurisdiction.
Get The “Right Defense” When needing a Pennsylvania Murder Appeal
When you or a loved one is facing murder allegations or charges, gain the benefit and experience of the Ciccarelli Legal Team. Our team brings years of experience defending clients, demanding justice and fighting for acquittals. Our team is ready to represent you when you are facing homicide and murder charges in Pennsylvania. We are based in based in suburban Philadelphia and serve clients throughout Pennsylvania. Contact us at (610) 692-8700.