If you or a loved one was recently convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania, you may have various options to appeal the decision or receive post-conviction relief. An experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer with The Zeiger Firm can thoroughly review your case and explain your options during a free case review. Contact us to get started.

Sentencing Challenges

Sometimes on appeal, the best way to get a case overturned is for re-sentencing. Our attorneys understand sentencing challenges regarding the mandatory minimum and the sentencing guidelines. As a result of our knowledge, we have been able to successfully put forth substantial sentencing challenges on appeal and through post-trial motions.

There are circumstances when, despite an attorney’s best efforts, a person is either convicted of or pleads guilty to committing one or more crimes. In some instances, the defendant either seeks or requires a different attorney to try to obtain the most lenient possible sentence.

At The Zeiger Firm, we are familiar with the State and Federal Sentencing Guidelines in Pennsylvania. We know how to challenge your sentence effectively. The guidelines are often complex, so it is important to hire an attorney who understands the rules and recognizes that small differences can have an enormous impact on the nature of a sentence. These differences can affect whether the defendant is sentenced to jail and for how long. Our attorneys consider every option available with the goal of reducing jail time, fines, and any other penalties that may apply in any case.

The Philadelphia, Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyers at The Zeiger Firm understand the laws, procedures, and sentencing guidelines. We fight zealously, never forgetting that our most important goal is to obtain the best results for our clients, including taking appeals when a sentence is unfair or unjust. We work hard for our clients, explaining their options and keeping them updated about the status of their cases.

When you, a family member, or a friend need a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania attorney to assist at a sentencing hearing, contact The Zeiger Firm. We represent every client zealously to obtain the best results possible in each case. To arrange a consultation with an experienced Philadelphia sentencing challenges attorney, please give us a call at 215-798-8160 or send us an email via the form below.

Direct Appeal

The direct appeal in Pennsylvania is the only way to continue to fight if a loved one, friend, or you were recently convicted of a crime. Brian J. Zeiger is an experienced and aggressive appellate attorney who has fought and won cases on direct appeal in Pennsylvania. The direct appeal in Pennsylvania is the first appeal, the first opportunity to appeal the case, and the chance to have independent judges review the case.

To preserve your rights for a direct appeal, you must file the Notice of Appeal with the clerk of courts in the county of the conviction within 30 days of the day of the sentence. However, you could file a Motion for Reconsideration within ten days instead of the Notice of Appeal. If you file the Motion for Reconsideration, the clock stops on the 30-day period to file the notice of appeal. If the Motion for Reconsideration is denied, the clock begins again with a fresh 30 days to file the Notice of Appeal.

If the trial court does not rule on the Motion for Reconsideration within 120 days, the motion is deemed denied by operation of law. The clock starts again with a fresh 30 days to file the Notice of Appeal.

The Motion for Reconsideration is essential. The appellate lawyers at the Zeiger Firm understand that if you want to appeal the sufficiency of the evidence or challenge the sentencing, you must file the Motion for Reconsideration to give the trial court the opportunity to fix their mistakes before the case is appealed. Oftentimes, the best issues on direct appeal involve the sentencing. The Pennsylvania appeals attorneys at the Zeiger Firm understand how and when to file the Motion for Reconsideration to preserve their clients’ rights.

Once the Motion for Reconsideration is denied, the direct appeal begins. The issues most likely raised on direct appeal are:

  • The trial judge made a mistake
  • The district attorney did something improper
  • An insufficient amount of evidence was presented for the conviction to stand
  • Improper weight was given to specific evidence
  • The court made sentencing errors

These errors can occur at any point during the criminal case, including:

  • Evidentiary rulings
  • Rulings on pre-trial motions
  • Rulings during the trial
  • Sentencing

Mr. Zeiger has argued before the Pennsylvania Superior Court, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. He is also sworn in to the Supreme Court of the United States. When you need a direct appeal in Pennsylvania, contact Brian J. Zeiger for a free consultation at 215-798-8160.


In Pennsylvania, you can attack your conviction through the Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA). A PCRA appeal is different than a direct appeal. The PCRA attorneys at the Zeiger Firm understand the inner workings of the Post-Conviction Relief Act and write original petitions for our clients. Our appeals attorneys have won PCRAs in Pennsylvania and continue to fight for our clients after the time of conviction.

You can file a petition under the Post-Conviction Relief Act for any grounds in 42 Pa.C.S. 9543(a)(2). The grounds include:

  • A violation of the Constitution of this Commonwealth or the Constitution or laws of the United States which, in the circumstances of the particular case, so undermined the truth-determining process that no reliable adjudication of guilt or innocence could have taken place
  • Ineffective assistance of counsel which, in the circumstances of the particular case, so undermined the truth-determining process that no reliable adjudication of guilt or innocence could have taken place
  • A plea of guilty unlawfully induced where the circumstances make it likely that the inducement caused the petitioner to plead guilty and the petitioner is innocent
  • The improper obstruction by government officials of the petitioner’s right of appeal where a meritorious appealable issue existed and was properly preserved in the trial court
  • The unavailability at the time of trial of exculpatory evidence that has subsequently become available and would have changed the outcome of the trial if it had been introduced
  • The imposition of a sentence greater than the lawful maximum
  • A proceeding in a tribunal without jurisdiction

The PCRA lawyers at the Zeiger Firm use the PCRA to make the following arguments related to a wrongful conviction:

  • Unconstitutionality
  • Ineffective assistance of counsel
  • Illegal sentence
  • Withdrawal of a guilty plea
  • Government interference from filing an original notice of appeal
  • No jurisdiction
  • Newly discovered evidence

The standard applied in a petition under the PCRA is 1) the issue has legal merit; 2) the mistake was made; and 3) the outcome would have been different had the mistake not been made. Mr. Zeiger files the PCRA petition in the Court of Common Pleas of the county where the conviction occurred. The matter is then appealed to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, where the real fight happens.

Don’t ever stop fighting.

Contact us with your questions for a free consultation on the grounds of the PCRA, timeliness issues, the forum, the actual procedure, and the validity of your issues.

If you want to attack a conviction under the Post-Conviction Relief Act, contact the aggressive and experienced appellate lawyers at The Zeiger Firm. Never give up the fight. Contact Brian J. Zeiger now at his Philadelphia, Pennsylvania office at 215-798-8160.

Rule 35 / 2255 Motion

Other federal appeal issues exist besides a direct appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Rule 35 is a motion filed by the United States Attorney to reduce the sentence of someone already sentenced because that defendant has provided substantial assistance to the government after sentencing.

A 2255 Motion is similar to a state court appeal under the Post-Conviction Relief Act, where the motion states that the defendant’s own lawyer did a bad job, or in legal terms, the defendant had “ineffective assistance of counsel.” However, 2255 can also be used to challenge the constitutionality of a conviction or sentence.

The criminal appeals lawyers at The Zeiger Firm understand Rule 35 and 2255 Motions and can help you with post-conviction matters. When you need a Pennsylvania criminal appeals attorney to represent you in an appeal involving Rule 35 or a 2255 Motion from a conviction in a federal court, contact The Zeiger Firm. We aim to represent every client zealously and obtain the best results possible in each case. To arrange a free consultation, please give us a call at 215-798-8160 or send us an email via the form below.

Habeas Corpus Appeals

Habeas Corpus literally means “that you have the body.” For many state inmates, the Habeas Corpus appeal is the last chance for appellate review of their case. The argument in a Habeas Corpus appeal is the state that convicted the petitioner did not afford the person their minimum federal constitutional rights. The basis of Habeas review is the state is illegally detaining a person, and that person is asking the federal government to order the state to release them from custody.

Federal Statute 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241–2256 governs Habeas petitions in the United States of America. The main procedural issues in filing a Habeas Petition are:

  • The person must be incarcerated on the case for which they are seeking review
  • Timeliness
  • Exhaustion.

A habeas petition must be filed within one year of the end of your direct appeal. However, the clock is stopped during your PCRA proceeding and begins again when the state supreme court denies your PCRA appeal. To include an issue in a federal Habeas Corpus appeal, the issue must have been denied by the state court appellate system, meaning you cannot raise an issue for the first time in the Habeas petition.

When reviewing state issues, the standard applied is “contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court of the United States.” The issues Mr. Zeiger sees most are:

  • Fourth Amendment (illegal search and seizure)
  • Fifth Amendment (right to silence)
  • Sixth Amendment (right to effective counsel)
  • Eighth Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment)
  • Confrontation Clause (state court evidentiary rules prevented the petitioner from properly confronting the accuser)

Habeas Corpus relief can also be used to argue:

  • An adequate basis for detention
  • Removal to another federal district court
  • The denial of bail or parole
  • A claim of double jeopardy
  • The failure to provide for a speedy trial or hearing
  • The legality of extradition to a foreign country

Habeas petitions can be complicated. If you or your loved one are at the point of the appeal where you believe a federal Habeas Corpus appeal is appropriate, contact Brian J. Zeiger now to schedule a free consultation with a habeas corpus appeal attorney in Philadelphia at 215-798-8160.