Q: My fiancé took a plea 3-7 for theft and person to possess a firearm. We had been trying to contact his lawyer since October when he took the plea. The gun was mine and lawyer promised all kinds of stuff but hardly spent any time on our case or with us even missing court dates. When my fiancé took the plea he was told he had no other choice and that he had to say he spent enough time with lawyer and was satisfied or he would go to trial lose and get 20 years. Well, after taking the plea we tried to contact the attorney numerous times. His office phone disconnected and cell phone calls were ignored. He was supposed to be requesting my gun back as well as my fiancés personal possessions that were taken by police. The lawyer (which we had suspected) was just arrested for drug delivery and distribution. He has a case against him with the PA Disciplinary Board. What are our rights now?
A: If it is the intention of your boyfriend to withdraw his plea and get back in to court, there are two options for him. A direct appeal to the Superior Court within 30 days of sentencing or a Post Conviction Relief Act Petition (PCRA), which must be filed within one year. I would consult with an appellate criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. If any missed deadlines for appeals can be attributed to the lawyer’s problems, it may work to your boyfriend’s advantage in regard to appeals under a theory of ineffective assistance of counsel.