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Post Conviction Relief Act


Even if a criminal defendant has appealed to the Superior Court or the time to file an appeal has expired, he still has avenues for a sentence reduction, new trial, or even discharge. In Pennsylvania, the Post Conviction Relief Act (or “PCRA”) is that path.

The PCRA allows defendants to challenge the constitutionality of the proceedings against them, the legality of their sentence, or even the effectiveness of their attorney. If they win, the PCRA court can vacate their conviction, force the district attorney to extend a plea bargain, order a new trial, or even discharge them.

The PCRA has strict requirements for relief, however, and an experienced attorney is the best way to increase the chance of success. For example, the PCRA has timing and pleading requirements that, if not met, will all but doom a claim.

At Gearty Law Office, we know PCRAs. We know the rules, statutes, and cases, so that we can give you the edge you need in tough cases. If you have doubts about a criminal conviction, call us. We will review your case and give you our opinion through the eyes of experienced PCRA litigators.



An unfavorable decision in the trial court is not the end of a case. Maybe someone went to trial in a criminal case and lost, maybe they got an unfavorable custody order, or maybe they had a final protection from abuse (or PFA) order issued against them. While the case is over in county court, you can argue that the order was wrong—you have appellate rights.

But how does someone exercise their appellate rights? There are special courts that will review the trial court’s decisions. In Pennsylvania, they are the Commonwealth, Superior, and Supreme Courts. Almost no decision that a trial court makes is beyond their reach; the appellate courts can review everything from the trial court’s evidentiary decisions to the length of a criminal sentence. They have the power to correct any mistake they find: they can order new trials; override the trial court’s decision; or even discharge a prisoner, vacate his conviction, and forbid retrial.

Having the right attorney is a big part to a successful appeal. Each court has its own set of rules and special requirements. Appeals in Pennsylvania, for example, are governed by more than three hundred rules of procedure, dozens of internal operating procedures, and volumes of decisions interpreting the law and appellate rules. An attorney who has experience in the appellate courts knows those rules—and most importantly, how to avoid the pitfalls—gives the client the best chance of success.

At Gearty Law Office, we have attorneys who have practiced before the appellate courts, know the rules and procedures, and have proven track records of success on appeal. If you would like us to review your case, call to talk to one of our attorneys—you lose nothing by seeking a second opinion.

Below is the press release that announces Attorney Gearty’s award from the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys.



Justin C. Gearty, Jr. Has Been Nominated and Accepted as Two Years
AIOFLA’S 10 Best in Pennsylvania For Client Satisfaction

The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys has recognized the exceptional performance of
Pennsylvania’s Family Law Attorney Justin C. Gearty, Jr. as Two Years 10 Best Family Law Attorney for
Client Satisfaction.
The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys is a third-party attorney rating organization that
publishes an annual list of the Top 10 Family Law Attorneys in each state. Attorneys who are selected to
the “10 Best” list must pass AIOFLA’s rigorous selection process, which is based on client and/or peer
nominations, thorough research and AIOFLA’s independent evaluation. AIOFLA’s annual list was created
to be used as a resource for clients during the attorney selection process.

One of the most significant aspects of the selection process involves attorneys’ relationships and
reputation among his or her clients. As clients should be an attorney’s top priority, AIOFLA places the
utmost emphasis on selecting lawyers who have achieved significant success in the field of Family Law
without sacrificing the service and support they provide. Selection criteria therefore focus on attorneys
who demonstrate the highest standards of Client Satisfaction.

We congratulate Justin C. Gearty, Jr. on this achievement and we are honored to have him as a Two
Years AIOFLA Member.
You can contact Justin C. Gearty, Jr. directly at: 717-490-6325 or