Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Penalties for DUI in Philadelphia

Driving under the influence (DUI)
in Philadelphia is like playing with fire.
Convictions for driving under the influence charges can carry harsh penalties; however, as harsh as the punishments are, it seems as though many people are continuing to commit the same unintelligent and careless act. Because drunk driving can be fatal to the driver, passengers, and even uninvolved third parties near the scene, police forces in jurisdictions nationwide strive to catch offenders.

In the City of Philadelphia, DUI cases are unfortunately common. Depending upon a person’s BAC level, the punishment for a DUI conviction will differ. Another factor that goes into deciding the appropriate penalty for driving under the influence is how many offenses the person already has. For example, the first offense will be much less harsh than the second or third. It is important to remember, though, that the State of Pennsylvania provides strict laws and penalties when it comes to DUI arrests, and the City of Philadelphia is no different.

The first offense for a convicted drunk driver may include being charged with probation or up to 72 hours in jail, depending on the persons BAC level. Second or more offenses can result with five days to over a year in prison, along with thousands of dollars in fines, again depending upon how much alcohol was in the driver’s system. Many first time DUI offenders are eligible for an ARD program, but not always. It is important to note that these are not the only charges for which a person with a DUI must be prepared. The penalties, including fines and possible jail time, will become even harsher if the driver has caused an accident resulting in injury or death.

Drunk driving is a serious crime that comes with serious criminal charges. Many qualified DUI lawyers in Philadelphia are able to represent those facing DUI penalties. It is important to have an understanding of what will be involved when it comes to your arrest and how to be prepared to defend yourself.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Philadelphia Wedding Brawl, Criminal Charges, and Legal Citations

If you are a resident of the Philadelphia area, chances are that, by now, you’ve heard of the giant wedding brawl that took place this past Sunday (10/7/12) at the Sheraton Hotel in Society Hill. Apparently, two separate wedding groups were involved and one of the guests, a 57-year-old man, died of a heart attack during the ordeal.

Although at least three people have been arrested for their involvement so far, there could be other arrests as officials continue to investigate – according to Lt. Ray Evers, spokesman of the Philadelphia Police Department.

One of those arrested, Matthew Sofka, was booked on a number of charges – seven, in fact. You can find the docket sheet here: Docket # MC-51-CR-0041253-2012

Reading the Case Docket Sheet

On the docket sheet, you will find the charges listed (including citations of PA statutes):

From Page 2 of the Docket

Although these charges are fairly straightforward, you may be wondering about the statutes themselves, as well as where you can find them in the state's legal code.

Where can I find these state laws?

These charges were filed in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania’s state law applies. If you want information about what these charges mean, you could consult the Consolidated Statutes of Pennsylvania and be able to read the exact wording of the state’s legal code. (For more info: Pa. Consolidated Statutes)

What is the Law Statute Symbol that looks like a Double Letter S?

That symbol, which looks like this §, is known as a section sign and is frequently used in legal code. For example, 18§2705 refers to Title 18, Section 2705. This section is part of Chapter 27 – Assault.

A .pdf file of Pa. Title 18, can be downloaded here: Title 18

On Page 78 – Section 2705 is included in a table for Chapter 27:

Page 78

Page 83 – Further in the chapter, you’ll find Section 2705 itself:

Page 83

Other Legal Notation

You may have noticed that, on the criminal docket referenced above, use of the section symbol twice in a row, like this §§. This refers to a subsection. For example, 18§5503§§A1 refers to Title 18, Section 5503, subsection a, paragraph 1. This might also be cited as 18 Pa.C.S. § 5503(a)(1). The “Pa.C.S.” part is simply shorthand for “Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes”.

On Page 230 – 18 Pa.C.S. § 5503(a)(1)

Page 230

Charges Filed

All of the charges in the docket referenced above can be found in 18 Pa.C.S. - CRIMES AND OFFENSES. Here is a list of those charges as well a link to the relevant Section on the PA General Assembly’s website.

An Important Note

This post is intended for reference/entertainment purposes only. It should not be used in place of qualified legal counsel. Furthermore, it should not be construed as advice to take, or not take, any specific action. The writer of this post and the operators of this blog are in no way associated with any of the parties referenced herein.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Philadelphia Texting While Driving Ban

Cell phones have made the lives of people much easier but they have also become a major distraction for drivers. Pennsylvania recently passed a law that bans the use of a cellular device to send text messages while the person is behind the wheel. Texting while driving is subject to primary enforcement, which means that law officers can stop offenders for that reason alone. Drivers are still allowed to use hands free devices and talk on their cell phones, which will make it difficult for law officers to determine who is texting.

The punishment for texting while behind the wheel is a $50 fine, no points are received on the driver’s license, and their phone cannot be confiscated. If the driver has an urgent need to send a text they should pull over and park in order to send their text message. Since it is still legal to talk on the phone while driving, law officers have to observe the driver for a longer time before they can pull them over. The law officers must be certain that the driver is texting and they have guidelines that they are to follow in order to determine if the driver is texting.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Principles of the U.S. Criminal Justice System

The goals and values of the United State's Criminal Justice System rest on a few core principles. While these are not a perfect representation of what happens in the real world, they are nonetheless the standard that the system strives to maintain.

First, anyone accused of or charged with a crime is, from the court's perspective, innocent. "The burden of the proof lies upon him who affirms, not he who denies" - as the Latin saying goes (Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat). They must be proven guilty of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, by the prosecution, before being considered guilty.

Similarly, the legal rights of the accused must be protected. This is commonly referred to as Due Process, which seeks to ensure that laws are not vague and are applied fairly to the accused. In addition, the accused is to be notified of their charges and have an opportunity to be heard before actions are taken to deprive them of their life, liberty, or property.

The Sixth Amendment spells out many of the rights of which those charged with a crime are entitled, such as having "the Assistance of Counsel" for their defense. This means that a defense attorney can be hired by the accused or provided by the state in the event they lack the resources to procure legal representation on their own.

The accused are also entitled to be judged fairly by impartial jurors without influence or interference from outside sources. The process must also take place openly in a venue that is publicly accessible to ensure that all involved are treated fairly and equitably. According to the principles of the United States  Criminal Justice System, all are to be considered equal before the law.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Criminal Defense Against Under Aged Drinking

When a person is legally allowed to consume alcohol varies from country to country. For instance, the Australians feel that 18 years is the safe drinking age, whereas the Americans feel that it is 21 years. The governing authorities as well as the rules are different in the countries. The actual age seems to be irrelevant, because people under the age of 21 often get their hands on alcohol.

A comparison between the past figures and the current figures relating to the drinking habits among youth depicts the rising trend of it. Some people argue that the rising trend is a direct result of broken home families, media influences and a general desensitization to alcohol abuse in general. While others say that the higher number of underage arrests does not prove that more under aged children are drinking, but just that law enforcement is more strict in modern times. There are several reasons why those under the age of 21 continue to drink even though it is illegal.

These reasons can include peer pressure, inconsiderate propensity, personal problems, love life, academic issues, depression, aggression etc. The after effects of underage drinking are deadly, they include improper conduct, traffic accidents, rave parties, suicides, death, problems that relate to alcoholism etc.

We need to better educate the youth on the dangers of under aged drinking and teach responsibility. Criminal defense lawyers understand what is it like for under aged kids to be threatened with serious offenses and they work with the family and the child to receive the best possible outcome for the child.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Reality of a DUI Charge

If you are found guilty of DUI, driving under the influence, the consequences can be very serious. The punishments vary in the different jurisdictions, but they are always significant. If the drunk driver gets involved in an accident that causes serious injury or death to the victim, additional charges that can carry prison sentences are often involved. Drunk driving has always been an issue in American society but, over the past few decades, law enforcement has made it an even larger priority.

The consequences of a DUI conviction can seriously be life changing. These include losing your license, high fines and legal fees, drastically increased insurance premiums, vehicle impoundment, prison time, probation, community service, and alcohol treatment. Governments in many jurisdictions have been regularly introducing bills to tighten DUI laws. In addition to the many personal consequences, those who drive under the influence are putting others lives at risk.

If you are charged with driving under the influence, a local DUI lawyer is the person you ought to call. These attorneys understand your difficult situation and are experienced in defending those in your position. DUI lawyers will examine every aspect of your case to minimize any negative consequences. These are serious charges, so it is important to hire a DUI lawyer if you have been wrongly charged. After all, your reputation, assets, and freedom are on the line.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Becoming a Successful Criminal Lawyer

Criminal appeals lawyers are responsible for the phrase “innocent until proven guilty”. Becoming this type of lawyer is hard work, and not everyone interested in law is cut out for this type of work. It takes years of knowledge as well as experience to become a successful criminal lawyer. Clients come to the criminal lawyers, filled with expectations, and a successful criminal lawyer does whatever they can to defend their client. Unlike the other types of lawyers, a lawyer specialized in handling the criminal cases will be highly trained to handle any unforeseen situations in the court of law. An experienced criminal appeals lawyer will have the potential to challenge the judgment of the court. This is an important trait required to become a successful as well as popular criminal appeal lawyer. The ones who are the most popular in the industry, typically with the highest success rate, are the ones who demands for high fees. The clients are forced to pay the amounts in full as there will be no negotiations.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hiring a Drug or Narcotic Attorney

Facing a drug charge is a serious crime that can result in severe legal consequences. It is for this reason that many accused seek that aid of drug attorneys. The legal consequences in these types of criminal cases can result in large fines and jail time. Choosing the right attorney is important, one needs to find a lawyer with a solid record, and who is trustworthy. The drug charges differ according to the nature of the case. Drug crimes cover a range of offenses that includes sale to manufacture and distribution of controlled substances. These offenses will result in the accused being put in prison, property forfeiture, probation and participation in a drug treatment program. The most common drug Issues that drug attorneys face are drug possession and possession with intention to distribute. Drug trafficking, transportation, cultivation are also other examples. The types of drugs are prescription drugs and street drugs. The prescription drugs range from narcotics to tranquilizers and pain killers. Illegal distribution of prescription drugs is also a crime. The street drugs are abused and sold on the streets. Some of the street drugs are cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, crack, ecstasy and marijuana. Some states have possession of heroin charges, cocaine possession or possession of marijuana. The penalties and sentences for drug charges vary in different states and depending on the drug. Manufacture of drugs is a very serious offense and can lead the person to long-term imprisonment or even life sentences in some places.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Criminal Attorney Fees for Legal Services

Criminal attorney fees are the compensation required by attorneys for the legal service they provide. Attorney fees vary between firms, the type of services provided, and because of other factors. These fees are separate from fines, punitive and compensation damages and or court costs, which may be assessed in a legal case.

Through client surveys, it can be said that attorney fees usually range from $200 to $1000 per hour, although this is certainly not always the case. Smaller firms will charge a much lower amount. Insurance defense firms have low rates when compared to non-insurance firms. The Laffey Matrix is the most prevalent system for determining lawyer fees in the United States.

With this system, the hourly rates of an attorney are established according to the years of experience he or she has in this field. For example, attorneys who have 20+ years of experience command an hourly rate of $430, whereas $380 an hour would be determined for attorneys with 11 to 19 years of experience. A lawyer with 8 to 10 years of experience would charge $315 per hour, and $255 if they had been practicing for 4 to 7 years.

On the lower end of the scale, attorney fees for those with 1 to 3 years of experience would be $215 per hour, according to the Laffey Matrix. This system is approved by many courts in the United States. Hourly attorney rates increase every year, but there are attorneys who provide their time and expertise for more than the Laffey Matrix would advise.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Criminal Record Expungement Can Mean A New Beginning

An arrest and conviction of a crime goes into the legal records, which could limit future employment opportunities. Even if you have served your time, a criminal record can easily cause you to fail a background check conducted by a potential employer. Ex-convicts are treated differently by the society. People are often hesitant to trust them, making it difficult to start over once released. For many people, a criminal background haunts them forever.

For this reason, legal expungement can be an important milestone in a released person's journey to starting back on a productive and law-abiding path. In this process, all legal records regarding arrests and convictions are erased in eyes of the law. There are certain eligibility requirements that need to be met in order for someone to have their criminal records expunged. Those offenders who are currently convicted of any crime cannot apply for their records to be expunged, for example. They have to wait until they have served their sentence before requesting expungement.

Criminal record expungement is much more common with those known as "first time offenders", rather than "seasoned criminals". Many crimes, such as sexual assault and crimes against those under 18 years old, are often ineligible for expungement; eligibility depends on the particular jurisdiction. For this reason, it is wise to consult with a criminal defense attorney who is experienced in these matters.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Are you in trouble for driving while intoxicated (DWI)?

If you have been taken into custody for drunk driving, then you should immediately contact a DWI lawyer for legal representation and advising. DWI, short for Driving While Intoxicated, is a serious offense with severe consequences. You might not only lose your driving privileges, you could also go to prison and be responsible for large fines. So if you ever find yourself facing these charges, make sure you contact a qualified DWI lawyer as soon as possible.

You may wonder whether a DWI lawyer brings much to the table and whether you might just as easily represent yourself. This usually a poor decision and often results in a much worse outcome than if you had hired an attorney. Lawyers that specialize in DWI can effectively deal such cases because they have extensive experience defending those in your exact situation. As it stands, you are up against a lot.

Beyond the prosecution, evidence, and testimony, you may also be facing large civil penalties. This is especially true in cases that include injuries or property damage. The legal process can be cause for great anxiety, but an experienced DWI lawyer is exactly who you need on your side to protect your rights and get through the ordeal.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Taking a Stand against Police Brutality

Police are supposed to be upholders of the law and protectors of human rights. However occasionally, in certain situations, police abuse their authority and act out of brutality. Most people are afraid to speak out against Police brutality. This is mainly because many feel that the law is heavily slanted in favor of the police, or that they could get into more trouble for making accusations, as true as the accusations may be. However, this is the wrong way of looking at the situation. Every citizen is considered equal in front of the law. Even if you are arrested for a valid reason, that does not give the arresting officer the right to abuse you.

If you believe you are the victim of unnecessary force by one or more police officers in the City of Philadelphia, you can meet with a police brutality lawyer in Philadelphia, who can provide legal representation and advising. Brutality can encompass a number of things, from exertion of force, physical assault, arresting on false charges, and illegal imprisonment, just to name a few. At the same time, this can be a tricky area of law because law enforcement is authorized to use some degree of force in certain situations. A qualified Philadelphia lawyer can provide you with the legal knowledge and perspective you need to weigh your options.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Defense of Identity Theft Charges

Many offenses constitute fraud, but one of the most common among them is identity theft. This is a very serious offense and can cause many problems for the victim. Credit can be damaged by thieves opening up lines of credit, draining bank accounts, and a variety of other fraudulent acts.

Social security numbers and other confidential information are obtained by criminals in a variety of ways. These include home robberies, mail theft, email phishing scams, and by exploiting the security vulnerabilities of companies that have your information. While it is impossible to prevent all risk of identity theft, you should take as many precautions as you can to reduce your risk.

Social security numbers and other confidential information are obtained by criminals in a variety of ways. These include home robberies, mail theft, email phishing scams, and by exploiting the security vulnerabilities of companies that have your information. While it is impossible to prevent all risk of identity theft, you should take as many precautions as you can to reduce your risk.

Sometimes, though, innocent people are wrongly charged in identity theft and other fraud cases. Identity theft lawyers specialize in defending these types of white collar crimes, which can not only carry jail time, but often ruin professional reputations as well.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Hiring a DUI Lawyer

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) can have serious consequences. Those convicted are heavily fined, incur higher insurance premiums, and often have their driving privileges suspended or revoked. If the offense also includes damage to public or private property, excessive speeding, or causes death/personal injury, sentencing can also include imprisonment. Cases that cause damage to another person's life or property are often followed by multimillion dollar lawsuits.

For this reason, if you are charged with driving under the influence, you need the assistance of a qualified DUI defense lawyer. After being arrested, you may experience a great deal of anxiety, especially if you have never been arrested before. Any situation like this is difficult to handle by yourself, which is why you need to get a good lawyer involved. No matter how serious the case is or how ashamed you may feel, you have a right to defend yourself. Do not let a bad situation become worse; hire a criminal defense lawyer you can rely on.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lawyers for Defense in Criminal Cases

Government passes laws to protect the freedom of its citizens, which can be infringed upon because of actions by other people. If you are wronged, you have the right to bring a civil case against someone. Filing a lawsuit, or defending one, requires a certain kind of attorney depending on the matter in question.

Criminal cases, however, present a different challenge for those charged. Whereas civil cases are about remediation of property, criminal cases can carry severe penalties - such as jail time. For this reason, you need the help of an expert criminal lawyer to defend against heavy fines or imprisonment.

You should be very particular about which criminal lawyer you choose to defend you and represent you in court. A good place to start is by browsing through the websites of local criminal defense lawyers that practice in your area. You should also evaluate each lawyer’s reputation and experience in their particular specialty before you decide on any attorney.

You should be confident in your lawyer's ability to defend you; this plays a major role in winning a case. In addition, understand the laws that grant confidentiality to things you share with your lawyer. After making sure that you understand attorney–client privilege, be open with your lawyer once it has been established. Defending your reputation is best done in court, be forthcoming with your attorney about all details when preparing your defense.