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Pennsylvania Criminal Lawyer

If you are facing criminal charges, or believe you may be the subject of a criminal investigation, you are feeling overwhelmed and suffering from anxiety. Your mind is racing with terrified thoughts as you wonder what will become of yourself and your family.

The following information is provided as a general guide to the criminal defense process in Pennsylvania, and can help prepare you for a number of possible scenarios if you have been arrested or are facing arrest. Understanding the criminal process is essential when fighting your charges. To understand the full scope of what you are up against, you should consult with a Pennsylvania criminal lawyer.

PHILADELPHIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE

The Philadelphia Police Department has started using a diverse and effective set of strategies to fight crime. This means that the city is working hard to decrease crime to ensure the safety of residents and local businesses. But when you are charged with a criminal offense, it is important to have a Philadelphia criminal lawyer who can help you build a defense to protect your freedom and avoid a criminal record.

According to Philadelphia Police Department statistics, the total number of serious crimes such as homicide, robbery, and burglary dropped six percent from 2012 to 2013. While these statistics are good news, they are also a sign that the police department and other authorities within Philadelphia have adopted a zero tolerance approach to many crimes. If you find yourself accused of a crime in Philadelphia you may find that you are given little chance to publicly defend your reputation and legal rights. You can, however, fight the charges legally with the help of a dedicated Philadelphia criminal lawyer. Your attorney will be able deftly handle a variety of charges, ranging from homicides to retail theft, and will be singularly devoted to protecting your best interests.

Advantages of Having a Philadelphia Criminal Lawyer

Your defense depends on the type of criminal charge you’re facing and the facts and circumstances surrounding your arrest. For crimes such as murder, assault, theft, and burglary, proof of intent is often used to challenge the prosecutor’s case. A skilled Philadelphia criminal attorney will know to look for various weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, including whether the correct policies and procedures were followed in the investigation and in your arrest.

A Philadelphia criminal defense attorney can be an asset if you are under investigation for or charged with any of the following crimes in Philadelphia.

Other Areas Served

Pennsylvania Criminal Lawyers Can Help

Although a misdemeanor is not as serious as a felony, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania still applies strict penalties when a person is convicted of a misdemeanor crime. Obviously, punishments for felony offenses can be even more severe. A first degree felony will come with a presumptive sentence of up to 20 years in prison, while a third degree felony may result in up to seven years in prison. A Pennsylvania criminal lawyer can explain what elements the prosecution will have to prove in court get a conviction.

Some of the most commonly charged criminal offenses in Pennsylvania include:

Drug Offenses

Drug crimes in Pennsylvania can range from misdemeanor possession to possession with intent to distribute. Serious drug convictions can bring penalties of one-to-15 years in prison and fines ranging  from $5,000 to a $250,000. Probation may be an option for misdemeanor and some felony convictions. There are also alternative sentencing options available to many who are convicted. You don’t have to sell drugs to be charged with intent to distribute; the act of sharing them with friends for recreational use could result in an intent to distribute charge.  The quantity of drugs you possess can also be used to show intent to distribute. Many constitutionally based defenses are available to most drug defendants regardless of whether being accused of state or federal charges. A criminal attorney in Pennsylvania can work with you to build your defense.

Gun Charges

Even though Pennsylvanians are allowed to openly carry certain firearms without a permit. That does not mean you can tote a gun anywhere at any time. Pennsylvania does allow for gun owners to carry concealed weapons if they have secured the proper permit. However, some people are not allowed to carry any type of firearm under any circumstance. Penalties for those who violate the Commonwealth’s gun laws, such as bringing a firearm to a courthouse or onto school grounds, can result in severe punishment. Sentences for such violations range from fines of $10,000 to $25,000 depending on the offense. Prison terms can range from five to 10 years. If you have questions about gun laws in Pennsylvania, consult with a Pennsylvania criminal lawyer.

Theft

The crime of theft can be difficult for people to understand. The term includes  a number of offenses, from burglary to robbery, and can include cash, goods of value, or, in cases of identity theft, even someone’s identity. Theft charges are typically broken down into degrees, which are based on the circumstances of the theft. Factors include whether forced entry was made into a business or dwelling, if people were present or confronted, the value of the items taken, and if a weapon was involved. As a Pennsylvania criminal lawyer can tell you, the elements of the crime need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Burglary is the crime of breaking into and entering a structure with the intent to commit a theft and can be charged as a misdemeanor or burglary. Even a minor charge of shoplifting could result in up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine, although probation is more likely for a first offense. Robbery charges can net you 20 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.

Sex Crimes

These are viewed harshly by both the criminal justice system and the court of public opinion. Sex crime offenses include rape, attempted rape, sexual battery, indecent exposure, and more. Sex crimes involving minors are viewed as extremely serious and, in some cases, can result in federal charges, including allegations of child pornography and human trafficking violations.

Pennsylvania sex crime penalties can also be particularly severe, with some felonies resulting in fines as high as $25,000 and the possibility of 20 years in prison. Federal penalties, however, are typically much harsher. And charges such as these – even if unfounded – can have disastrous results for your personal and professional life. Many of those convicted of sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders for long periods of time, sometimes for life. That can make securing employment and living quarters extremely difficult, if not impossible.  A Pennsylvania criminal lawyer can help devise a strategy to help protect your freedom and reputation.

Assault

The crime of assault s defined in Chapter 27 of the Commonwealth’s  code and includes a range of offenses from simple assault to aggravated assault and from stalking to ethnic intimidation.

Other assault-related crimes include resisting arrest and some domestic disputes. Penalties can range  from $5,000 to $50,000 in fines and from one to two years in jail to 40 years in prison, depending on the charge.

DWI/DUI

Drunk driving charges in Pennsylvania are defined as driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence. DWI and DUI incidents have become a major priority for law enforcement in Pennsylvania. In their rush to keep the roads safe there could be serious constitutional violations. Were you legally stopped by the arresting officer, e.g. did she or he have probable cause? If you were arrested, were you properly read your rights before questioning?  If you submitted to a blood alcohol content test was the test done properly, was the equipment calibrated correctly and kept up to date, and was the evidence correctly stored and handled?

A seasoned Pennsylvania criminal attorney will understand all the intricacies involved in a DWI/DUI charge. DUI offenses in Pennsylvania are divided into three categories: General Impairment, High BAC and Highest BAC. They are defined as follows:

  • General Impairment involves a BAC of .08 to .099 percent;
  • High BAC involves .10 to .159 percent;
  • And Highest BAC covers those who register .16 percent and above.

The charges are all misdemeanors, and punishment can range from probation to five years in prison. License suspension, fines, mandatory drug or alcohol counseling, and ignition interlock devices may also be required depending on your BAC level and number of prior offenses.

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