Facing Criminal Charges in Pennsylvania
There are a variety of different criminal charges a person can face in Pennsylvania, ranging anywhere from a traffic violation to a serious felony offense. When a person has never been charged before, they may feel nervous and confused by what is happening. A Pennsylvania criminal lawyer can stand by a person’s side and help answer questions they may have about the entire process. For more information or to discuss the specifics of your case, contact a Pennsylvania criminal lawyer today to set up a free consultation.
Common Criminal Charges
There is no such thing as a common charge that is committed in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is a diverse state made up of cities like Philadelphia, Media, Norristown, Reading, Allentown, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. In these cities, certain crimes are more prevalent because of population not because they are more common. To the thousands of small towns and municipalities that make up the majority of the middle of the state, other crimes are more prevalent.
Due to the diversity in Pennsylvania, there is no specific crime that is charged on a more frequent basis. Thus, it is important for criminal lawyer know the law for the crime that was charged, but also to know the jurisdiction and to have an understanding of how to defend the crime in that jurisdiction
Common Mistakes Made by Individuals Facing Charges
The most common mistake an individual facing a charge makes is that they do not seek the services of a criminal defense attorney from the very beginning. First and foremost, when a person is being investigated by the police or another government agency for a crime, they should always seek the advice and representation of an experienced attorney that they feel comfortable with.
It is very difficult to repair the harm done to a defense after an individual has met with authorities on their own without the proper realization of what they are doing and knowledge of what the government is looking for.
The Arrest Process
In Pennsylvania, when a person is arrested for the first time, it can be a very frightening experience especially because the person is probably unaware of the correct court procedure.
For instance, an attorney has an established relationship with local law enforcement that allows them to obtain the details of an arrest in an expedient manner. When a client is not represented by counsel, the client is left on their own to try to figure out how to obtain the necessary information. A criminal defense lawyer can help a person facing charges with bail, keeping their family informed, and any court appearances.
When a private attorney is involved from the beginning, many of the challenges a person may face, can be dealt with in a systematic way possibly even before the person is arrested. In addition, with an attorney, there is always someone on the outside who continuously monitors the client to make sure they are okay and to help their family out in all aspects of the case.
Pennsylvania’s War on Guns
In Pennsylvania, there is a state wide focus on cracking down on violations of the Uniform Firearms Act. Gun charges are at the forefront of the Pennsylvania prosecutors’ focus so much so that the Attorney General’s office has a specific unit assigned to those crimes.
There is an increased priority on charging those who have allegedly purchased, what we call the straw purchasing of firearms, and transferred firearms illegally between parties. The Philadelphia and Pittsburgh District Attorney’s office both have gun violence task forces whose sole job is to track stolen and illegal firearms. All of these cases carry mandatory sentencing if more than one firearm is involved even for those with no prior record.
What Should I Look For in a Pennsylvania Criminal Lawyer?
Being charged with a crime can be a frightening experience that no one should go through alone. When hiring a Pennsylvania criminal lawyer, someone should select an individual they feel they can trust and can connect with, and who keeps them well-informed about the status of their case. Clients should be more than just a number or a chart and treated with compassion and respect.
Factors to Consider in a Pennsylvania Criminal Lawyer
When hiring a Pennsylvania Criminal lawyer, experience and thorough knowledge of local laws and jurisdictions is of paramount importance. Just as vital however, is being able to use that knowledge to execute the best possible criminal defense.
Important questions that a person should ask themselves when considering whether their Pennsylvania criminal lawyer is right for them include:
Strong Attorney-Client Relationships
Experience of the law, compassion for your particular circumstance, and trust are what is required for the strongest of attorney/client relationships.
Value of Experience
Knowing the local Pennsylvania rules of court, which differ from location to location, being known and respected in many jurisdictions, and a reputation amongst judges and courts – from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, all comes from experience.
Why Do Clients Choose You As Their Pennsylvania Criminal Lawyer?
It is our combination of compassion, approachability, and zealous drive to investigate cases thoroughly that has been the key to our success. We strive to leave no rock unturned. If you have been charged with a crime, contact a Pennsylvania criminal lawyer today.
Expectations for Criminal Charges in Pennsylvania?
When a person faces criminal charges for the first time, this can be confusing and sometimes frightening. The best way for a person to learn more about their options and what they can expect at court is to consult with an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney.
The Criminal Process in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, an individual charged with a crime can expect a warrant to be presented for their arrest, assuming it was not an on-site arrest. The warrant will include the date and time to turn themselves in to the District Attorney’s office, the court, or a detective working on the case.
Within a 24-hour period, a person will see an arraignment court judge who will determine whether to set bail or bond given the charges. After the arraignment, an initial preliminary hearing court date will be given and the individual charged with the crime will receive a subpoena to appear for their first court date.
At the arraignment, the Commonwealth will indicate the specific charges and the evidence that the government has against the client so that the matter can continue onward. Should the Commonwealth meet its burden of a prima facie case that a crime has been committed, the matter will be held over for a trial at a later time.
Unique Aspects of Criminal Cases in Pennsylvania
Unlike in many other states, an accused person in Pennsylvania is usually entitled to a preliminary hearing. At the preliminary hearing, the Commonwealth, through the representative from the District Attorney’s office, has to call witnesses to make a prima facie case that a crime has been committed. The Commonwealth has to show that the individual charged with the crime, is more likely than not, the individual that committed the crime.
If the burden is met then the case will go to trial. What makes this process unique is that defense counsel has the ability to cross-examine witnesses from the very beginning. This allows them to judge the witnesses’ credibility and to better understand how the prosecution might present the case in the future. Only a few other states offer this option.
In addition, a person has the right to be tried later on by the judge or jury. In other jurisdictions, a person does not have that right. However, in Pennsylvania, the District Attorney’s office, which is also known as the Commonwealth, has the right to demand a jury at a later time. A person who has been charged with a crime in Pennsylvania needs a criminal attorney from Pennsylvania who understands these nuances. Please do not hesitate to contact our firm with questions and to set up an initial consultation.
David Clark Attorney at Law