from the PCRA Order June 12, 2017 in the Court of Common
Pleas of Erie County Criminal Division at No(s):
D. Seletyn, Esq. Prothonotary
BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., STEVENS, P.J.E., [*] and STRASSBURGER, J. [**]
Jacob Pier (Appellant) appeals from the June 12, 2017 order
that denied his petition filed pursuant to the Post
Conviction Relief Act (PCRA), 42 Pa.C.S. §§
Commonwealth charged Appellant with aggravated assault and
endangering the welfare of a child, claiming that he caused
multiple injuries, including fractures of the arms and legs,
to his less-than-two-month-old child, and failed to seek
medical attention. N.T., 1/6/2016, at 7-8. Appellant pled no
contest to the charges. On March 8, 2016, Appellant was
sentenced to an aggregate term of 23 to 46 months of
incarceration. Appellant's post- sentence motion to
modify sentence nunc pro tunc was denied on March
28, 2016, and he filed no direct appeal.
timely filed a PCRA petition on August 24, 2016. Counsel was
appointed, and, after transcripts were produced, a
supplemental petition was filed on March 13, 2017. On May 10,
2017, the PCRA court issued notice of its intent to dismiss
Appellant's petition without a hearing pursuant to
Pa.R.Crim.P. 907. Appellant did not respond, and the PCRA
court dismissed the petition by order of June 12, 2017.
Appellant timely filed a notice of appeal, and both Appellant
and the PCRA court complied with Pa.R.A.P.
standard of review of a [PCRA] court order granting or
denying relief under the PCRA calls upon us to determine
'whether the determination of the PCRA court is supported
by the evidence of record and is free of legal
error.'" Commonwealth v. Barndt, 74 A.3d
185, 192 (Pa. Super. 2013) (quoting Commonwealth v.
Garcia, 23 A.3d 1059, 1061 (Pa. Super. 2011)).
appeal, Appellant claims that the PCRA court erred in denying
his PCRA petition because his plea was unknowing and
involuntary. Specifically, Appellant claims that his plea was
invalid because (1) plea counsel "failed to advise
[Appellant] of his right to withdraw his no contest pleas and
of the distinct legal standards relating to withdrawal of a
plea prior to sentencing and post-sentencing;" and (2)
the "pleas were a product of a false and coerced
confession made to the police investigators[.]"
Appellant's Brief at 2.
extent that Appellant is challenging the effectiveness of his
plea counsel, we bear in mind that counsel is presumed to be
effective. Commonwealth v. Simpson, 112 A.3d 1194,
1197 (Pa. 2015). To prevail on a claim of ineffective
assistance of counsel, a PCRA petitioner must prove each of
the following: "(1) the underlying legal claim was of
arguable merit; (2) counsel had no reasonable strategic basis
for his action or inaction; and (3) the petitioner was
prejudiced-that is, but for counsel's deficient
stewardship, there is a reasonable likelihood the outcome of
the proceedings would have been different." Id.
Allegations of ineffectiveness in connection with the entry
of a guilty plea will serve as a basis for relief only if
the ineffectiveness caused the defendant to enter an
involuntary or unknowing plea. Where the defendant enters his
plea on the advice of counsel, the voluntariness of the plea
depends on whether counsel's advice was within the range
of competence demanded of attorneys in criminal cases.
Commonwealth v. Moser, 921 A.2d 526, 531 (Pa. Super.
2007) (internal quotations and citations omitted).
"Thus, to establish prejudice, the defendant must show
that there is a reasonable probability that, but for
counsel's errors, he would not have pleaded guilty and
would have insisted on going to trial." Barndt,
74 A.3d at 192 (citation and internal quotation marks
extent that Appellant contends that his plea was involuntary
because of his allegedly-coerced confession, Appellant must
establish that his confession was constitutionally infirm,
that the circumstances surrounding the plea make it likely
that the confession caused him to enter the plea, and that
counsel incompetently advised Appellant to enter the plea.
Commonwealth v. Nelson, 574 A.2d 1107, 1110-11 (Pa.
does not discuss his two challenges separately. Rather, the
entirety of his argument is as follows.
[Appellant] has alleged that counsel was ineffective in
failing to advise him of his right to withdraw his no contest
pleas and most importantly the distinct legal standards for
said withdrawal based upon pre-sentencing and post-sentencing
[Appellant] asserts that his no contest pleas were the
product of his preceding confession to the police
interrogators, which confession was false and the product of
coercion by those police agents who promised that he would be
permitted to leave  the police station after he falsely
admitted to the charges involving the assault and
mistreatment of the infant, M.P. The recitation of the impact
the false confession had on the election thereafter to enter
the no contest pleas would have afforded [Appellant] with a
fair and just reason to seek to withdraw the no contest
pleas, if he had been apprised of his right to exercise that
option. [Appellant] has provided further proof that his
confession was in fact false and the product of police
coercion in the form of statement from his parents, James
Pier and Leann Pier, which statements were appended to the
supplemental PCRA before the [PCRA c]ourt. His pa[r]ents
recite that Kristen Farley, (mother of M.P.), admitted to
both of them on September 23, 2014 that she knew that
[Appellant] lied about his confession because she was fully
aware that he had never hurt her or the baby, which was the
predicate for the criminal charges to which ...