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Conviction Integrity Section Frequently Asked Questions

The Conviction Integrity Section (CIS) was created by the Office of Attorney General in to reinforce Pennsylvania’s commitment to the highest standards of fairness in our criminal justice system by creating an independent, transparent and standardized process for investigating claims of actual innocence state-wide.  Resources otherwise not available in smaller jurisdictions will be made available to conduct reviews of past convictions in collaboration with local prosecutors, law enforcement and victims while providing assistance to larger jurisdictions as well.

What is the Conviction Integrity Section (CIS?)

The mission of the CIS is to identify, investigate and correct any wrongful or erroneous convictions within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Yes.  The CIS is a special section within the Office of Attorney General with dedicated staff.

The CIS reviews felony convictions where there is a credible claim of actual innocence; the applicant is currently serving a sentence of incarceration on the conviction in question; and no litigation is pending in any court.

Complete the application on this website and send electronically or in hard-copy.  If you are represented by an attorney, please consult your attorney first and complete the appropriate application on this website.  Please understand, if you are represented by an attorney, the CIS will communicate only with your attorney about your case.

The CIS and the district attorney office of original jurisdiction on the conviction, screen all applications for credible claims of actual innocence to determine if further review is warranted.

Yes.  The CIS reviews convictions resolved by trial or guilty plea.

No.  The CIS considers other factual issues whether or not DNA evidence exists.

No.  The CIS does not review requests for early release or probation/parole violations.  These claims should be submitted to the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole at parole@pa.gov.

How does the CIS work?

The CIS will confirm that the application was received.  The application is screened by the CIS and the district attorney in the county where the conviction occurred. The CIS will notify you or your attorney whether it will be accepted for further review or if additional information is needed.

Every effort will be made to process and communicate the status of your application in a timely fashion.  The length of the initial screening process depends on many factors, including the age and complexity of the case, the information available, and the number of applications being processed.

Every attempt will be made to keep you informed during the review process when possible and appropriate.  Once the investigation is completed, the CIS will notify you or your attorney the decision and/or recommendations.

No. The decision to review your case means the CIS is prepared to investigate your claim of innocence, but it does not mean the CIS agrees with the validity of the claim or has exonerated you.

No.  The mission of the CIS is to identify and correct convictions of innocent people whether or not the true offender is identified or prosecuted for the crime.

None.  The CIS is not a court of law and does not create or confer any legal right on your claim.  However, the CIS decision does not prevent you from raising the same claim of innocence through the Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act.

No.  Submitting an application for review to the CIS has no effect on any other legal rights you may have even if your case meets initial screening criteria and is accepted for further review.

Additional Information:

No.  The CIS is part of the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General.  However, collaboration with Innocence Projects or similar organizations may occur.

No.  The CIS is a part of the PA-OAG which is a law enforcement agency and cannot give you legal advice.