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Can i Get a new Trial because my lawyer was on drugs when he was representing me.

Lebanon, PA |

I was Convicted at a trial in 2010 and sentenced to 1-3 years state prison, my entire family felt that the lawyer didnt do his job and that his representation was horrible. Now Just today we found out that he was suspended from the practice of law because of serious misconduct around the time i was tried an sentenced, we further found out through the paper that he had entered a rehab because of drug issues last summer and that he had been using the drugs throughout the time he represented me. Is there anyway i can get a new trial now almost 3 years later.

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Attorney answers 6


You should retain a criminal defense attorney who has experience in ineffective claims (PCRA). The attorney can review the entire history and make the argument that you could not have found out about your lawyers addiction during the applicable appeal period. Your new attorney must akso prove that but for the addiction you would have prevailed at the trial.This is the edge that the lawyer most show in order to have the court grant you a new trial.


You don't mention whether you filed for direct appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court and/or filed a petition under the Post Conviction Relief Act. Based upon the information in your question you are outside the time limits for relief under either of the two mentioned above. You might have something that could be accomplished based upon the evidence you have just come upon concerning trial counsel's difficulties with alcohol/substance abuse. You need to consult with a criminal attorney who specializes in, or at least has significant experience, appellate work. Please do this without delay as any potential avenue of relief may close quickly without action being taken very soon.


Most states have a collateral review procedure (variously post-conviction, habeas corpus, coram nobis, or some other form as provided by state law) that might allow inquiry into such a situation. Such cases as you describe are, unfortunately, not unheard-of and relief may be possible. It will not be a walk, however. Collateral litigation tends to be a complicated, difficult and uphill battle. Be aware that even most excellent criminal defense attorneys may not care to take on this very specialized kind of work. Find somebody who knows how.


A PCRA Petition must be filed. This is a very complicated area of the law that I think you will need an attorney to assist you with.

Michael L. Doyle
(215) 900-5565


You would have to prove that the attorney was on drugs and it affected his performance at trial in a way that prejudiced you. You need to file a PCRA but you better do such right away. Technically, if you were sentenced in 2010, you are already late but you can claim this was just discovered but you still better act immediately.


Yes i a agree with my peers. The Post Conviction Relief Act is what you must deal with. Few attorneys do this work well and it is hard to win on these things. However, you need to see an experienced PCRA attorney soon. SInce you are late in filing (1 year) the attorney may be able to gather some information about the attorney which would corroborate and support your allegations of ineffectiveness. This may add some substance to your petition.

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