Appeals & Post-Conviction Relief
Criminal cases may be appealed to the Pennsylvania appellate level courts: "Under the Constitution and supporting statutes, an appeal to the Superior Court is a matter of right in a criminal case, and a further appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court may also be taken under certain circumstances." P.L.E.2d Criminal Law § 891 (2019).
The Post Conviction Relief Act (PCRA), found at 42 Pa.C.S. §§ 9541 et seq., "provides for an action by which persons convicted of crimes they did not commit and persons serving illegal sentences may obtain collateral relief" (42 Pa.C.S. § 9542). Information on PCRA proceedings, including the content a PCRA petition should consist of, can be found at Pa.R.Crim.P. 900-910.
Use the sources below to find more information on criminal appeals and PCRA.
The following member database includes information regarding PCRA and criminal appeals in Pennsylvania. Members must be logged in to jenkinslaw.org to access this database. This database is also available in the library.
Pennsylvania Criminal Law (LexisNexis Practice Guide)
Available on the LexisNexis Digital Library. See Chapter 15: Postconviction Relief Act.
Pennsylvania Law Encyclopedia
Available on the LexisNexis Digital Library. See "Criminal Law" Chapter 37: Post Conviction Proceedings and Chapter 38: Appellate Review (vol. 19). See also "Appeals" (vol. 2).
Also on the library's Lexis computers and in print.
Onsite Print & Electronic
The following print resources include information regarding PCRA and criminal appeals in Pennsylvania. Some resources published by LexisNexis and West/Thomson Reuters may be available on the library's Lexis and Westlaw computers. See below for more information.
Pennsylvania Law Encyclopedia LexisNexis
Also on the library's Lexis computers and the LexisNexis Digital Library.
See "Criminal Law" Chapter 37: Post Conviction Proceedings and Chapter 38: Appellate Review (vol. 19). See also "Appeals" (vol. 2). Library also has previous edition: see all.
The Post Conviction Relief Act: Practice & Procedure PBI Press
Library also has previous editions: see all.
Additional information on appeals and appellate practice is available. Search the Jenkins' catalog for appeal* or appellate and limit the results to the Pennsylvania collection for additional resources. Visitors to the library may also want to browse the stacks around call number KFP555.
In conjunction with its continuing legal education courses, the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI) produces many books each year covering various criminal law topics, including PCRA and appeals. Some of these concentrate on more specific or unusual areas of the law. When a researcher has difficulty finding an answer in the manuals or form books, it is a good idea to turn to a PBI publication for guidance.
Criminal Law Symposium 2019
See Chapter M: The Duty of Zealous Advocacy for the PCRA Practitioner, Chapter Q: PCRA Update, and Chapter CC: The Second Bite: Procedural and Substantive Issues Under the PCRA.
34th Annual Criminal Law Symposium
See Chapter CC: Pennsylvania Post-Conviction DNA Law: What Is It and How Does It Work?
33rd Annual Criminal Law Symposium
See Chapter H: The Basics of Direct Appeals (where Following the Rules still Matters), Chapter I: Criminal Appeals and Common Pitfalls Before the Superior Court, and Chapter P: Basics of PCRAs.
32nd Annual Criminal Law Symposium
See Chapter H: The Basics of Handling a PCRA Case.
Hot Topics in Capital Cases: Part 1
See Chapter 4, Section 2: Capital Case Direct Appeals to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court; Chapter 4, Section 3: Post-Conviction Relief Act Practice Outline.