Being charged with a crime in Philadelphia can make even the strongest of people feel as if their world is collapsing. Wimmer Criminal Defense, the preeminent criminal defense law firm in Philadelphia, has put together the below guide to help you become acquainted with some of the terms you may hear as you navigate the…
Post-Conviction Sentencing Proceeding Attorney
If you have been convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania, you need an experienced post-conviction sentencing proceeding attorney at the important hearing which will determine the exact penalty you face. Working with a criminal defense lawyer throughout the process – including in the sentencing phase – can provide a defendant with an opportunity to mitigate one’s sentence. Criminal attorney Lauren Wimmer has successfully represented clients during the sentencing proceedings following their conviction. To schedule a free and confidential initial consultation, please call 215-712-1212 today.
When Do You Need a Post-Conviction Sentencing and Relief Attorney?
Sometimes, individuals mistakenly think of a guilty verdict as the end of their ordeal. They may believe that the entering of a guilty verdict means that they will likely face the most serious consequences authorized under the law. Thankfully, this is not the case. The defendant and their post-conviction sentencing proceeding attorney have an opportunity to influence the severity of the sentence by way of what is called “post-conviction proceedings”. Even if that person did not have an attorney previously, they can still retain legal representation to represent their best interests and pursue the best possible outcome at sentencing.
At the sentencing phase, the conduct and surrounding mitigating and aggravating factors will be presented and assessed. The sentencing phase of the trial involves a different legal skillset and there are many reasons why an individual may wish to change counsel for the sentencing portion of proceedings. Working with one or more attorneys throughout the entire process can increase the likelihood that all mitigating evidence is considered before a sentence is rendered.
A post-conviction sentencing proceeding attorney is Essential at Your Sentencing Hearing Since Pennsylvania Law Provides a Judge with Broad Sentencing Discretion
Under Pennsylvania law, it is the responsibility of a trial judge to render a sentence following a conviction. While broad sentencing guidelines apply, this judge is granted direction to apply a penalty that they think fits the crime. For instance, an individual could be sentenced to serve house arrest, pay a fine, engage in community service, or serve a prison sentence. The judge decides.
A post-conviction sentencing proceeding attorney can seek relief and work to reduce the sentence a convicted individual will serve by presenting evidence of mitigating acts and circumstances. While it is true that sentencing guidelines provide a general range of penalties, judges are free to depart from these guidelines when circumstances warrant. However, any deviation from these guidelines must be explained by the judge. Therefore, defense counsel must present strong legal reasons and evidence of mitigating factors for a downward sentence revision before a judge can consider ordering a sentence below guidelines. Evidence presented by your criminal defense attorney could also cause the judge to order a penalty that is equal to the minimum punishment under the guidelines.
Legal Options Under Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA)
A lawyer can also seek relief for a convicted individual through Pennsylvania’s Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA). PCRA provides an indirect method of appeal separate and apart from a direct appeal which could proceed from the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas. Appeal through PCRA can be particularly useful because it can allow for relief even when a direct appeal to a superior court has been denied.
Post-conviction relief through PCRA can only be sought when standards can be met. To start, the PCRA appeal must be filed within one-year of the denial of the final direct appeal, or within one year of the conviction if the defendant chooses to forego a direct appeal. Furthermore, PCRA appeals can only address matters stemming from the following:
- There was ineffective assistance by the trial lawyer such that “no reliable determination of the truth” could have occurred.
- The conviction involved a violation of the Constitution of the United States or Pennsylvania.
- It appears a guilty plea was induced or that the plea was likely false.
- The imposed sentence exceeded the maximum penalty.
- The government wrongly obstructed a defendant’s right to appeal.
- New evidence that would change the verdict has come to light.
In addition, the matter must be a new issue not previously litigated to qualify for PCRA post-conviction relief. A lawyer can help you determine whether a direct or indirect appeal is most likely to lead to relief in your matter.
If you have been convicted of a crime in Philadelphia or Pennsylvania, your next step is to face the sentencing phase. At this phase, the exact punishment you face will be decided. Because judges have discretion in determining your sentence, it is essential to have a post-conviction sentencing proceeding attorney who can advocate on your behalf and present your actions in the best light. We invite you to contact us or call for a free consultation at 215-712-1212 today.
Contact a Post-Conviction Relief Lawyer in Philadelphia
Criminal defense attorney Lauren Wimmer can fight to protect you from a worst-case sentence. To schedule a free and confidential post-conviction relief consultation, call today.