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If you have been charged recently with a criminal offence as the state level such as DUI or domestic violence, you probably have a lot of questions and concerns about what will happen next, who you can find to listen to your side of the events, what your legal rights are, and - most importantly - how this unfortunate incident will affect your personal life, your job and your family.
All of these things will be answered when you hire an attorney. The sooner you speak with a qualified lawyer, the sooner you will be able to reduce the effects of the charges against you and take action to help avoid legal mistakes. You need to quickly consult with a Pennsylvania criminal lawyer who has a proven history of defending cases that are similar to yours. You do of course have the right to remain silent until you have sought counsel and the sooner you meet with a potential attorney, the better off you will be. Bear in mind that not everyone who has been charged with a state offense has been found guilty. When you partner with a criminal lawyer, they will be able to protect you and your family throughout this time and give you information on what your various options and legal rights are. Many attorneys will offer a free consultation the first time you meet, so you will be able to get some of this advice up front.
Are You In Need of Trusted Defense for Criminal Charges?
Our criminal attorneys have expertise in a wide variety of criminal offenses from solicitation to kidnapping to DUI. We have lawyers who practice in diverse areas: fraud, weapons charges, theft, probation violations, white collar crimes and many more. You need to act quickly. It doesn't matter if you are already facing charges or you suspect that there may be forthcoming repercussions for a past act, the longer you wait around the more difficult it is to build up a good defense. Our Pennsylvania criminal attorneys know this and they also understand how the justice system works, especially at the state level. They will be able to offer sound advice when you come in for your initial meeting.
Build a Strong Defense for DUIs
One of the most common charges that people will face at a state level is the charge of DUI. The consequences of this can vary and can include everything from a night in jail and heavy fine to a suspended driver's license, alcohol education and other penalties.
If you are charged with a DUI, you will need a criminal lawyer who is knowledgeable about state laws and who has experience handling cases like yours. Our Pennsylvania attorneys will help to determine if you qualify as a first offender, how to design your defense, how this can affect parts of your life like your job, and what penalties you may face.
Concentrated on Different Areas of the Law
Our attorneys concentrate in specific areas of the law. They work in these areas as to gain an extensive knowledge and understanding of the exact criminal charges you face. They know the state laws that will come into play for your case and they know the most effective strategies to help with your defense. We will be able to match you up with the most qualified lawyer on the team who has the experience needed for your specific case.
What You Should Expect from Your Lawyer
At your first meeting, you will be able to speak with your criminal attorney about the facts of the case. He or she will be able to share their expertise of the law as it applies to your situation. You should always be honest and candid when speaking with your lawyer. They must keep all of your information confidential and will work with your best interest in mind. You should always take your lawyer's advice and be patient as you explore the steps of your case.
A Strong Reputation Counts
Our professional lawyers belong to numerous associations like the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Their work history is easy to track and all of them have been fully vetted as we want you to have the most competent and reliable attorney working on your behalf.
Choose Attorneys That You Can Trust
How do you figure out which is the most suitable criminal lawyer for you? The right criminal attorney for you is one who will work to provide you with an informed defense. They will build trust with you, work with the highest ethical standards and bring professional confidence into your case.
Our top Pennsylvania lawyers know will advise you on how to handle your personal case and will do so with care and diligence. Avoid mistakes in the near future by finding a lawyer as quickly as possible during this time in order to protect your rights and give yourself peace of mind. Call today and be connected with a reputable criminal attorney.
Are You Facing Criminal Charges in Pennsylvania?
Criminal charges can be incredibly overwhelming. The Pennsylvania criminal justice process involves a number of uncertainties, and significant knowledge gaps often exist in individuals who are not familiar with it. If you have been charged with a crime, you can gain some clarity by knowing the basics of Pennsylvania criminal law.
Every crime in Pennsylvania is categorized as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Whether it is a violent crime, a property crime, or a crime against the family, the criminal offense will be further categorized into these broad, but important classifications. The essential difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the severity of the offense.
More serious crimes are considered felonies, while less serious offenses are called misdemeanors; however, different degrees of a specific crime could fall into either of these two categories. For example, theft can be either a felony or misdemeanor based on the value of the property that was stolen.
Both felonies and misdemeanors are further subdivided into more specific classifications. A felony will be categorized as either a Felony 1, Felony 2, or Felony 3. Misdemeanors are charged as a Misdemeanor 1, Misdemeanor 2, or Misdemeanor 3. Among these narrower categories, a Felony 1 is the most serious offense and a Misdemeanor 3 the least serious.
Irrespective of the severity of the charges against you, it is extremely beneficial to discuss your case with a qualified Pennsylvania defense attorney.
Locate the best Pennsylvania lawyers in criminal law here.
Five Common Crimes Charged in Pennsylvania
Not only does a full understanding of Pennsylvania criminal laws require a substantial investment of time, it is important to remember that they are constantly changing by amendment to the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. Therefore, if you are charged with a specific crime and want to determine how the broad criminal laws apply to your specific case, it will be necessary to contact a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney.
In Pennsylvania, it is a crime to unlawfully possess any drug or controlled substance. The statutes that specify the specific drug charges against an individual can be separated into three broad categories: possession of marijuana, possession of other drugs, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
The exact charges and potential punishments for drug possession can vary greatly under Pennsylvania drug possession laws based on the type of drug and the amount in possession. Marijuana, however, is one controlled substance that is treated differently from others under Pennsylvania law, and possession of marijuana often has less serious consequences than possession of other drugs.
If a first-time offender is found to be in possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana, the charge is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail. Typically, however, individuals convicted for the first time aren’t sentenced to incarceration. Possession of more than 30 grams of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail, and if an individual is convicted of a subsequent offense for possession of marijuana, the punishment is far greater.
Convictions for possession of other controlled substances, such as cocaine and heroin, result in harsher punishments. These drugs are considered more dangerous and more addictive, thus warranting a heftier penalty for their possession. Conviction for a first offense can mean a maximum of one year in jail, while a second conviction for this offense will double that sentence, resulting in a potential of two years in prison. A third offense is even more serious, and conviction could mean three years in prison.
Lastly, as it is in most states, possession of drug paraphernalia is also a crime in Pennsylvania. While this might seem like an offense deserving of a less severe punishment, that is not true in Pennsylvania. Possession of drug paraphernalia could also lead to one year in jail.
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In Pennsylvania, the crime of killing another person is called criminal homicide. As in most other states, the use of the term, “homicide,” is purposeful. It covers, not only murder, which is the intentional killing of another person, but it also includes reckless and negligent killings. Therefore, individuals in Pennsylvania are often charged with criminal homicide. It is the specifics of this offense that can drastically affect the potential punishment and consequences imposed upon conviction.
Murder, and the lesser charge of manslaughter, are separated in Pennsylvania by a determination of the presence of malice. Murder is considered to be a killing that is done with malice, which is the intent to cause harm or commit an unlawful act. Additionally, a charge of murder requires the presence of evidence that the defendant intended to kill the victim. Without evidence of both malice and the intent to kill, a murder charge is reduced to manslaughter.
Under the laws governing criminal homicide, murder charges can be made in the first, second, or third degree. Murder in the first degree is the most serious and, as such, is the most severe crime in Pennsylvania. First-degree murder is a premeditated, intentional killing. In Pennsylvania, this egregious type of killing is subject to capital punishment. Alternatively, however, the prosecution may elect to seek life in prison without parole.
Second-degree murder is also a substantial criminal offense. In Pennsylvania, murder in the second degree is applicable only to a small subset of killings which are known in most states as felony murders. This crime is described as the killing in furtherance of, during the commission of, or in flight from a separate felony such as kidnapping, burglary, or rape. The felony murder rule does not apply to killings that occur as a result of aggravated assault. The mandatory sentence for conviction of second-degree murder is life in prison.
Lastly, third-degree murder is the least serious offense for an intentional, malicious killing, and it encompasses any other intentional killings that do not qualify for the heightened charges of either second- or first-degree murder. The punishment for third-degree murder is a maximum of 40 years in prison, with a minimum term of 20 years.
Given the severity of its repercussions and the severity of the punishment upon a conviction for murder, defense of this crime requires a highly experienced Pennsylvania defense attorney.
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The definition of kidnapping can be broadly stated as “unlawfully moving another human being a substantial distance.” Obviously, some clarification of this definition is necessary because what is considered a substantial distance and what qualifies as unlawful are determined based on the specific facts of each case.
In Pennsylvania, a substantial distance is typically measured – not by actual feet and miles – but by the effect of the taking on the victim. For instance, it is possible to kidnap a person and move them only a few buildings, but if that movement isolates the victim and exposes him or her to harm, it is likely to be considered sufficient, although actual distance can often play a role in that determination.
As for determining whether the movement was unlawful, this usually means a victim was moved without his or her consent or knowledge. It can also apply to placing a person in confinement by use of force or threat of force. In addition to this factor, the prosecution must show that the defendant specifically intended to move the victim unlawfully.
To convict an individual for kidnapping, one of the following must be present:
Kidnapping is charged as a first-degree felony in Pennsylvania, the most serious classification of felonies available. That makes it an incredibly sever crime with harsh punishments. If convicted, a defendant faces up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine up to $25,000.
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Pennsylvania has more robust statutes around driving under the influence (DUI) than most other states. This additional detail doesn’t necessarily result in stricter punishments, but it does create more levels of this offense and additional information about the punishment for a DUI conviction.
As in other states, DUI will be charged in Pennsylvania if an individual is found to be driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher, except for individuals under the age of 21. For those younger drivers, driving with a BAC at or above 0.02% is considered DUI. DUI is a statutory offense. That means there is no intent requirement. Simply operating a vehicle with a BAC above the legal limit makes a person guilty of the crime.
When it comes to imposing penalties for conviction of DUI, Pennsylvania is guided by tiers based on the BAC of the individual and whether he or she has been previously convicted of DUI. Charges under the DUI law in Pennsylvania are based on three tiers according to the BAC. They are: the legal limit of 0.08%, 0.10%, and 0.16% and, as an individual crosses each of these tiers, his or her potential administrative and criminal punishment increases.
For a DUI conviction between 0.08% and 0.099% the minimum and maximum jail times are based on the number of DUI convictions a driver has incurred during the previous 10 years. Potential penalties are:
For conviction of a heightened BAC – between 0.10% and 0.159% – the potential penalties are:
For an aggravated BAC – above 0.160% – and for driving under impairment by a controlled substance, the potential penalties are:
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Whether it is called larceny or theft, every state has laws against taking property belonging to another person. In Pennsylvania, this offense is called theft, and its specific definition defines it as, “unlawfully obtains or withholds property from its owner.” Theft can be carried out by deception, extortion, embezzlement, threat – or even by means unknown to the victim. Under the Pennsylvania criminal statutes, all forms of theft fall under a single criminal offense.
Theft is charged in the first, second, or third degree – or as a misdemeanor if the thief took property valued at less than $2,000. Theft in the third degree is applicable to theft of any property valued between $2,000 and $100,000 or theft of a motor vehicle, irrespective of value. Theft in the third-degree is called a Felony 3, and it is punishable by up to seven years in prison.
As a heightened charge, theft in the second degree is also a Felony 3, and a convicted individual could be punished by up to seven years in prison. Theft in the second degree is applicable to theft that:
The most serious theft-related offense is theft in the first degree. The punishment for this offense is a maximum seven years and, depending upon the value of the stolen property, an individual convicted of first-degree theft is likely to receive a substantial sentence. First-degree theft is reserved for theft of property valued over $500,000.
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The lawyers who comprise Criminal Lawyer are prepared to defend a variety of crimes in Pennsylvania, and our experience is not limited to the most common crimes in the state. Instead, our expertise extends to defense of federal crimes and appellate level defense. Whether you are seeking a lawyer for defense against such serious charges as murder, or a less severe misdemeanor such as possession of a controlled substance, we can help.
Importance of an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer
A criminal conviction affects your life in a number of ways, and few individuals are prepared for the negative consequences that stem from having criminal records in Pennsylvania. The repercussions and consequences make it clear that even seemingly minor criminal charges are not something to dismiss, take lightly, or ignore.
If you are charged with a crime, you need to build a steadfast and robust defense, and that can be obtained only from the right attorneys in Pennsylvania. Your success will require you to find a Pennsylvania law firm that handles criminal cases substantially similar to your own and then contact the best Pennsylvania lawyers. But where do you begin to look for the right attorneys?
When you don’t know where to turn for defense against criminal charges in Pennsylvania, turn to us.
[Disclaimer – this is not legal advice.]
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