The DAO will determine if claims of actual innocence are credible and warrant further review.
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The mandate of the Chester County Conviction Integrity Review process is to ensure the reliability, accuracy, and credibility of trial convictions by carefully considering claims of actual innocence that meet established criteria.
No, the CIR is part of the DAO; prosecutors review all CIR cases. However, if there is a conflict for the DAO to conduct the review, the case will be referred to the Office of the Attorney General for consideration.
The CIR reviews felony or murder convictions that occurred in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, resulting from a jury or non-jury trial, where there is a credible claim of actual innocence. To see the full list of CIR requirements, click here for the Conviction Integrity Review Protocol.
Read the Conviction Integrity Review Protocol to ensure a case meets all established criteria. If it does, complete an electronic Conviction Integrity Review Application or download a Conviction Integrity Review Application PDF and return to the District Attorney’s Office. Upload or include additional documentation if warranted. DO NOT SEND ORIGINALS. Documentation will not be returned. Applications may be submitted by the petitioner or by an attorney. If a petitioner engages an attorney, all communication with the DAO must be through the attorney.
Guilty pleas will not be considered.
No, the CIR considers other factual evidence whether or not DNA evidence exists.
No, the CIR will not review sentences.
No. Claims such as these should be submitted to the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole at [email protected].
The DAO will acknowledge receipt of each application either through the petitioner or through his/her attorney. After an initial review, the DAO will notify the petitioner or attorney in writing about whether the CIR criteria have been met, therefore warranting further review.
Every effort will be made to process and communicate the status of an application in a timely fashion. The initial screening time varies depending on the age and complexity of a case, the information available, the number of applications being processed, and other factors. A CIR application will not toll any post-conviction time limits.
The DAO will attempt to keep petitioners informed of their case’s status whenever appropriate. Once the review is complete, the CIR will notify the petitioner or his/her attorney of the decision and recommendations.
No. By agreeing to review a case, the CIR is prepared to investigate claims of actual innocence. It does not mean the CIR agrees with the validity of a claim or exonerates a petitioner.
No, the CIR mandate ensures the reliability, accuracy, and credibility of trial convictions by carefully considering claims of actual innocence that meet established criteria. However, the petitioner bears the burden of providing credible evidence of actual innocence.
No. The Chester County District Attorney makes the final decision on petitions. By submitting an application, a petitioner understands that he/she is bound by the District Attorney’s decision. There is no court review of decisions.
No. Submitting an application to the CIR for review has no bearing on any other legal rights a petitioner may have, even if the case meets the initial screening criteria and is accepted for further review. A CIR application will not toll any post-conviction time limits.
No. The CIR is part of the Chester County DAO. Collaboration with Innocence Projects, however, may occur.
No, the CIR is part of the DAO, a law enforcement agency, and cannot give petitioners legal advice.