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State College Criminal Law Blog

Help when a child support modification is needed

Life does not remain static following a divorce and circumstances change, especially as children grow and develop. Life events can make changes to a previous child support, or child custody, order necessary. A change in circumstances such as a loss of a job, a change in household income, a serious injury or a change in marital status may occasion the need for a post-divorce modification to a child support order. Parents can agree to the change or the request a change from the family law court.

Some useful tips may help parents seeking a child support modification through the process. It is important to promptly address the situation if the paying parent is having difficulty meeting child support obligations and payments. It is important to utilize family law resources and not fall behind or ignore the situation. Another option is for parents to agree to a child support modification, which also needs to be approved by the family law court, so it is essential to communicate with the other parent early on.

Important change to Pennsylvania DUI laws

A recent change to Pennsylvania DUI laws allows individuals accused of a DUI the option to continue driving with a special license and an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle for a year. An ignition interlock device functions as a breathalyzer test that prevents the vehicle from starting if alcohol is detected in the driver's breath. An alternate diversionary program may also be available but the accused individual's driver's license will be suspended for 30 to 90 days.

The new options apply to individuals accused of a DUI that have a blood alcohol content level of .10 or higher. For individuals accused of a DUI with a BAC of between .10 and .159, they face a mandatory jail sentence of 2 days, a fine ranging from $500 to $5,000 and one year driver's license suspension along with alcohol highway safety classes and possible treatment requirements. The change in the law provides for the accused individual to choose an ignition interlock device instead of license suspension.

Pennsylvania colleges have a high amount of reported crime

Criminal defense rights are important to all individuals who have been accused of a crime. A total of 1,701 crimes were reported by Pennsylvania colleges during 2015 which is one of the highest numbers of crimes reported on a college campus anywhere in the nation. The data is provided by the Department of Education's Campus Safety and Security survey. The survey tracks a wide range of reported criminal offenses including serious criminal offenses such as rape, burglary, assault and murder. When adjusted for the number of students in the state, Pennsylvania falls on the list.

Some potential reasons that the number of crimes may be reportedly high on Pennsylvania college campuses include a focus on reporting given the history in the state; the mix of urban and suburban schools in the state and the urban schools accounting for more crime; and that the reported numbers do not differentiate between major and minor crimes. Being accused of any crime can be devastating for any college student and should be taken seriously.

Adoption process steps in Pennsylvania

In the state of Pennsylvania, there are numerous adoption agencies available to help families seeking to grow through the adoption process adopt a child. After an agency has been selected, the adoptive parents need to complete an application to begin the adoption process. In general, the application will ask about the composition of the potential adopter's family, their background and the characteristics of the child they are seeking to adopt.

The family may also be invited to attend an orientation session. In addition, a Family Profile will be created following a series of meetings between the potential adopters and an adoption professional. The family seeking to adopt must be approved by the adoption agency prior to adoption. The Family Profile also allows the family seeking to be adopted to be matched with children waiting to be adopted.

How to stay legal with medical marijuana use

As with most states, Pennsylvania has recently legalized medical marijuana. Also in line with other states, there are serious restrictions in place on who is eligible and where the product can be purchased. In order to not break the law, you are responsible for understanding and following the restrictions and regulations put in place.

According to the Governor's Office, the state's medical marijuana laws went into effect on April 17, 2016, but the full implementation of the program may not be complete until 2018. This means you may run into issues getting the documentation you need and finding a place to buy medical marijuana until everything is fully implemented.

Avoiding common Pennsylvanian criminal defense mistakes

It is important for individuals accused of crimes to understand their criminal defense rights and their importance. Because police and prosecutors make investigatory and charging decisions, it is important to understand criminal defense rights related to criminal charges and interactions with police and prosecutors. Certain pitfalls can affect an accused individual's case, and it is helpful to be familiar with what they are and avoid them.

To begin with, it is important to understand search and seizure rights related to police searches and arrests and other actions authorities may take. In addition, it is important to be familiar with rights against self-incrimination, which do not require accused individuals to speak with authorities or investigators. Trained guidance when working with investigators, authorities and others, such as concerning plea negotiations, can be useful.

The property division process in Pennsylvania

Property division is an important concern for divorcing spouses. In Pennsylvania, equitable property division rules are followed when dividing marital property. Marital property is generally subject to division when a couple in Pennsylvania makes the decision to divorce. Marital property includes property that is acquired or income that is earned during the marriage.

By contrast, property that is considered separate property is not generally subject to division when a couple makes the decision to divorce. Separate property typically refers to the property that one spouse enters the marriage with or property one spouse receives as a gift or as an inheritance during the marriage. Marital property, but not separate property, is subject to property division according to equitable property division rules in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania family arrested for alleged drug ring

Drug charges are serious criminal charges and require a swift response. In a Pennsylvania community about an hour west of the State College area a family was recently arrested on drug charges. The relatives are accused of operating a drug distribution ring. A total of five family members, ranging in age from 27 to 51, were arrested on felony charges of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. The family is accused of running a cocaine distribution ring in the area.

Over the past 12 months, the family is accused of selling $134,000 in cocaine. The family was allegedly selling $10,000 in cocaine every month. Authorities have been investigating the alleged drug distribution ring for approximately a year and conducted a series of controlled buys. In different raids, authorities seized greater than 70 grams of cocaine, drug paraphernalia and $2,750 in cash.

Crack down on drunk driving in place through Labor Day holiday

Drunk driving charges should be taken seriously. In a Pennsylvania community east of the State College area police are cracking down on drunk motorcycle riding and other types of drunk driving. Authorities recently announced the drunk driving enforcement campaign. Both state and national messaging, along with increased enforcement, is hoped to reduce impaired motorcycle riding and drunk driving on the nation's roadways. Authorities will be conducting zero-tolerance patrols for impaired driving. The enforcement period will extend through the Labor Day holiday.

In addition, a new law will soon go into effect in Pennsylvania that will allow individuals with a first-time conviction for driving under the influence to elect to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle rather than have their license suspended for a year. A vehicle with an ignition interlock device will not start if the driver is impaired.

Are drug courts effective?

If you are like many Pennsylvanians facing drug-related charges, you may also be combatting a drug addiction that might have played a role in your initial crime. Often, drug addiction leads addicts to act in ways they otherwise would not, and drug courts seek to give addicts alternatives to imprisonment that may also help them kick their addictions for good.

While they are not yet available everywhere, drug courts not only keep drug offenders out of prison, but they also all but force accountability because they typically involve regular appearances before a judge in conjunction with regular drug testing. Depending on the details of your crime and your criminal history, you may receive an invitation to take part in drug court. If so, you may ask yourself – does it work? The simple answer is yes, and there are plenty of statistics and numbers to back up this assertion. More specifically, drug courts are effective when it comes to:

quotes
  1. I came to Lance when I was going through a horrible experience. He was patient and kind as he explained the legal process of my situation. There was a deep level of humanity in his approach combined with logic and expertise. I am very grateful for all of his help and would recommend him to anyone.

  2. I came to Lance when I was going through a horrible experience. He was patient and kind as he explained the legal process of my situation. There was a deep level of humanity in his approach combined with logic and expertise. I am very grateful for all of his help and would recommend him to anyone.

  3. I came to Lance when I was going through a horrible experience. He was patient and kind as he explained the legal process of my situation. There was a deep level of humanity in his approach combined with logic and expertise. I am very grateful for all of his help and would recommend him to anyone.

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