Any time someone is accused of physically attacking another person, they may face assault charges in the state of Pennsylvania. The severity of the charges they face will depend on the circumstances surrounding the incident. Generally, an alleged assault in Pennsylvania can result in simple assault or aggravated assault charges. If you are facing assault charges, an effective criminal defense strategy can minimize your penalties or get your charges dropped entirely.
When an officer knocks on the front door of your house, stops you as you walk down the street or pulls you over while driving, there is a possibility that the officer will search your property for evidence of a crime. However, under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you are protected from unlawful searches and seizures. A criminal defense attorney can help to ensure that your rights are protected.
Television shows make it seem like most criminal cases go to court, with both sides arguing passionately in front of a jury. In real life, however, most criminal cases are settled in a much less dramatic fashion through a plea bargain. Both the prosecution and the defense tend to prefer plea deals to lengthy court trials, albeit for different reasons.
Pennsylvania, one of the nation's most populous states, with several major cities and several million residents, also happens to be one of its safest - at least when it comes to crime. This is according to a survey from WalletHub, entitled "2018's Safest States in America." However, a closer look at the statistics on which this ranking is based reveals that, in spite of its relatively low rates of violent crime, Pennsylvania's criminal defense attorneys will continue to be needed for quite some time.
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees a criminal defendant the right to effective representation by a competent attorney. The Fourteenth Amendment made this right universal; it applies in both state and federal cases. When an individual is arrested or questioned by police, they should almost always refuse to speak without the presence of an attorney. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer can help ensure that a suspect's rights are protected.
A primary strategy that criminal lawyers use to defend their clients in Pennsylvania is to move for a dismissal of the charges filed against a defendant. This type of strategy is a key component of a strong criminal defense. The fewer charges a defendant faces, the fewer consequences the defendant will face as a result. Criminal charges are generally dismissed in one of two ways: by making a motion to a court or through negotiation with the prosecutor in the case.
One of the clauses in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution says "No person shall. . . be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb . . ." This is known as the "double jeopardy" clause. What this means is that a criminal defendant in Pennsylvania cannot be tried twice for the same crime. Thus, a person charged a second time for the same crime could assert double jeopardy as a criminal defense to the charges.
In Pennsylvania, a criminal defendant may enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or, at the discretion of the court, "nolo contendere". The latter is a Latin phrase that translates to "it is not contested." Although these types of pleas are used infrequently, they can be useful in situations in which a criminal defendant may face civil or administrative claims due to the same actions that gave rise to the criminal charges. While they will not be appropriate - or allowed - in most cases, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help a defendant understand how to request such a plea and what the consequences may be.
The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, as well as the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, protect citizens against unlawful searches and seizures, including arrests. When it comes to criminal defense, Fourth Amendment protections are foundational. In order to overcome these protections, a law enforcement officer, according to the language of the Amendment itself, must have "probable cause" before searching or seizing a person, their home or their property.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens of Pennsylvania from unlawful searches and seizures. Fourth Amendment protections are a foundation of criminal defense in the Keystone State and across the country. Understanding exactly what the Fourth Amendment protects, and what it does not protect, is something that all citizens should make a point of learning. For example, if a search warrant or an arrest warrant is issued, the search or seizure that the warrant authorizes is presumed legal under the Fourth Amendment.