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The Post Conviction Relief Act ("PCRA" or "the Act") establishes a procedure of defendants to collaterally challenge their conviction or sentence. It is the sole means of obtaining state relief following conviction and sentencing. The PCRA has been broadly interpreted as creating a unified statutory framework for reviewing claims that were traditionally cognizable in state habeas corpus. The Act permits defendants in custody to seek relief when the conviction or sentence results in one or more of the Act's enumerated errors or defects and the claimed error has not been waived or previously litigated on direct appeal or in a previous PCRA petition. Subject to several narrow exceptions, a petition under the Act must be filed within one year of the date that the defendant's judgment of sentence becomes final. This article reports on a number of recent decisions of the Pennsylvania Supreme and Superior Courts construing provisions of the Act.

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Pa. B. Ass'n Q.