Current through P.A. Acts 2021-52
Section 9543 - Eligibility for relief(a) General ruleTo be eligible for relief under this subchapter, the petitioner must plead and prove by a preponderance of the evidence all of the following: (1) That the petitioner has been convicted of a crime under the laws of this Commonwealth and is at the time relief is granted:(i) currently serving a sentence of imprisonment, probation or parole for the crime;(ii) awaiting execution of a sentence of death for the crime; (iii) serving a sentence which must expire before the person may commence serving the disputed sentence; or(iv) has completed a sentence of imprisonment, probation or parole for the crime and is seeking relief based upon DNA evidence obtained under section 9543.1(d) (relating to postconviction DNA testing).(2) That the conviction or sentence resulted from one or more of the following: (i) 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.(ii) 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.(iii) 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.(iv) 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.(vi) 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.(vii) The imposition of a sentence greater than the lawful maximum.(viii) A proceeding in a tribunal without jurisdiction.(3) That the allegation of error has not been previously litigated or waived.
Subsec. (a)(4) is permanently suspended insofar as it references "unitary review" by Pennsylvania Supreme Court Order of Aug. 11, 1997, imd. effective.(4) That the failure to litigate the issue prior to or during trial, during unitary review or on direct appeal could not have been the result of any rational, strategic or tactical decision by counsel.(b) ExceptionEven if the petitioner has met the requirements of subsection (a), the petition shall be dismissed if it appears at any time that, because of delay in filing the petition, the Commonwealth has been prejudiced either in its ability to respond to the petition or in its ability to re-try the petitioner. A petition may be dismissed due to delay in the filing by the petitioner only after a hearing upon a motion to dismiss. This subsection does not apply if the petitioner shows that the petition is based on grounds of which the petitioner could not have discovered by the exercise of reasonable diligence before the delay became prejudicial to the Commonwealth.(c) ExtraditionIf the petitioner's conviction and sentence resulted from a trial conducted in his absence and if the petitioner has fled to a foreign country that refuses to extradite him because a trial in absentia was employed, the petitioner shall be entitled to the grant of a new trial if the refusing country agrees by virtue of this provision to return him and if the petitioner upon such return to this jurisdiction so requests. This subsection shall apply, notwithstanding any other law or judgment to the contrary.Amended by P.L. TBD 2018 No. 146, § 2, eff. 12/24/2018. 1982, May 13, P.L. 417, No. 122, § 2, imd. effective. Amended 1988, April 13, P.L. 336, No. 47, § 3, imd. effective; 1995, Nov. 17, P.L. 1118, No. 32 (Spec. Sess. No. 1), § 1, effective in 60 days; 1997, June 25, P.L. 324, No. 33, § 2, imd. effective; 1998, Jan. 27, P.L. 20, No. 3, § 2, imd. effective.