Research guides

Pennsylvania Criminal Law

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 (2016).

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.

Member Databases

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 14: 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 Appellate Practice West/Thomson Reuters
Also on the library's Westlaw computers.
Library also as previous editions: see all.

Pennsylvania Criminal Practice West/Thomson Reuters
Also on the library's Westlaw computers.
See Chapter 33: Appeals. Library also has previous edition: see all.

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
Includes forms.
Library also has previous editions: see all.

Standard Pennsylvania Practice 2d West/Thomson Reuters
Also on the library's Westlaw computers.
See Chapter 138: Postconviction Proceedings. Library also has previous edition: see all.

Research Tip

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.

PBI Publications

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.

Habeas Corpus
See Chapter 1: The PCRA: The Land Before (Habeas) Time.
Library also has previous editions: see all.

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.