Do you understand the right to an appeal after a conviction?

When people choose to go to trial to fight criminal charges, the decision is usually the result of a firmly held belief that they will win in court. Belief is not enough, however. Some people find themselves convicted in Pennsylvania courts, unsure of what to do next.

The good news for anyone convicted in Pennsylvania is that there is an appeals process that can offer relief. The bad news is that it is often an incredibly complicated process that can take a long time to complete.

You need grounds for an appeal other than unhappiness with a verdict

The thing that most people find confusing is that you can't simply appeal the verdict in a case because you don't like the fact that you got convicted. An appeal requires that you have a reasonable and serious issue with part of the legal decision or the proceedings that took place. There could be issues with the court, law enforcement or even your own legal representation that provide grounds for an appeal.

For example, if you wanted to testify in your own defense but you were denied that opportunity, you might be able to appeal because of that decision. If there is evidence that a juror potentially had a connection to someone involved with the case, or if there were unethical or questionable actions taken by law enforcement or the prosecutor's office, these scenarios could also give rise to an appeal.

Given how complex these cases are, consulting with an attorney is wise. An experienced legal advocate can advise you about whether the courts will likely grant your request for an appeal. You can also develop a long-term legal strategy to mitigate the impact of your criminal conviction.

Even if you can't appeal, you may still have options

One thing that many people forget about criminal convictions is that it is sometimes possible to have the record of the conviction expunged. This means that there will no longer be an official criminal record attached to your name. You will have to go to court and ask a judge to officially seal your record.

It usually requires a waiting period after the conviction, and the individual seeking expungement must avoid future criminal convictions. Even then, obtaining an expungement can be a complex process. Only certain offenses and records are eligible for expungement. You may wish to discuss expungement as well as an appeal with a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney.

A lawyer with experience in criminal justice can help you understand your rights and your options. You have the right to select a new attorney, especially if you believe your previous lawyer made mistakes that impacted your conviction.

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