Following a finding of guilt, a defendant will be sentenced. Once sentenced, he or she shall have a right, within ten days of that sentencing, to file an optional post-sentence motion. When Pittsburgh Criminal Appeal Attorney Robert E. Mielnicki first started practicing criminal law, it was necessary to file a post-sentence motion before an appeal was filed. This resulted in defendants sitting in jail for long periods of time before they could even appeal to a higher court. Meanwhile, the delay was often caused by asking the trial judge to correct an error that he or she made during the trial or prior to trial, something they were unlikely to do. The filing of a post-sentence is now optional but there is one instance where such must be filed – if you intend to argue that your verdict was against the weight of the evidence, you must set forth such first in a post-sentence motion. A challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence need not be initially set forth in a post-sentence motion. What is the difference? A challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence is an argument that no jury should have returned a verdict of guilty. An argument that a verdict was against the weight of the evidence is an argument that while the evidence was sufficient to support the guilty verdict, that verdict was against the weight of the evidence, maybe because the defense presented a strong but unaccepted defense.
If a direct appeal is not successful, one can file a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, but such must be filed within one year of when the judgment of sentence became final and while that person is still serving a sentence.
THIS IS AN OVERVIEW OF THE POST-CONVICTION PROCESS AND AS YOU CAN SEE IT IS NOT SIMPLISTIC. CONTACT THE PITTSBURGH CRIMINAL LAW GROUP SO THAT WE CAN PUT OUR COMBINED 50 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN CRIMINAL LAW TO WORK DEFENDING YOUR CASE.