Criminal / DUI Defense
- Felonies, misdemeanors, summary
- Attempted homicide, aggravated assault, sex crimes, robbery, burglary, domestic violence, theft, identity theft, computer crimes, drug/controlled substance act violations, detainers, probation violations, etc.
- Driving Under the Influence, homicide while DUI, homicide by motor vehicle, aggravated assault while DUI, PennDot licensing issues
- Felony drug possession and distribution
- Probation/Supervised Release revocations and violations
- Money laundering, gun offenses, and computer crimes
You have questions.…..
“I’ve never been involved with the law before, but I was charged with a DUI, what do I do? Can I fight it?” Read DUI-related information here.
“I have some crimes on my record and it keeps hurting my chances for employment — can I get those records erased”
“I was riding in a car with people I barely know and we were pulled over. The police found drugs, and now I have been charged with possession, what can I do?”
I have answers.…..
When you call my office, rest assured that I understand how frightening and confusing it can be when you are charged with a crime. In particular, DUIs can be psychologically devastating, as the penalties are harsh and the stigma can extend beyond the courtroom. We can begin together evaluating your case and planning a course of action for your defense.
Together, we will immediately discuss fees so that you never feel blindsided by how much your representation will cost.
Furthermore, I offer you my word that you will be treated respectfully and with dignity whether the charges against you have merit or not. This is the very essence hiring an attorney — to have an honest person looking out solely for your interests without judgment, ready to zealously defend you within the boundaries of ethics and the law.
If you have been charged with a crime:
In Pennsylvania, a DUI charge is a misdemeanor and a serious offense. You have probably received a summons in the mail explaining that you have a preliminary hearing scheduled. You will also probably notice two charges under section 75 PA.C.S. 3802, and a few other traffic offenses. The 3802 charges are the specific sections of the traffic/criminal code for driving under the influence.
Your defense begins with understanding these charges and the facts and circumstances of how and why you were stopped. Although fighting a DUI charge is an uphill battle, there are defenses available including, but not limited to 1. challenging the legality of the stop that lead to your arrest. 2. Challenging the testimonial evidence from the police officer that alleges your impairment 3. challenging the scientific evidence supporting the blood alcohol detected in your system.
However, if this is your first offense, depending on the circumstances you could qualify for ARD or Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. All legal defenses aside, ARD could be your cheapest and best possible outcome in your case. ARD is a program that allows a first time offenders to not admit guilt, but pay a fine and complete required drug and alcohol classes and depending on your BAC, give up your driving license for a period of time. Based on your BAC you will either serve 6 or 12 months of probation.
I state that ARD could be the best possible outcome because at the end of the program, you never have to admit any guilt, and upon successful payment of all costs and fulfilling all probation obligations, your record is wiped completely clean. ARD is also good because it typically reduces legal fees because there is less litigation.
if this is your first DUI offense, but you have a prior record that disqualifies you from ARD, Pennsylvania DUI laws have mandatory minimum jail times if your BAC is over a certain limit. However, Allegheny County has a program for non-ARD, first time offenders colloquially called “DUI hotel”, where an offender spends four days and completes all of the mandatory training sessions that have to be done regardless of whether you are in ARD or not. Although you cannot get your record expunged
If this is your second DUI, but your first DUI was over ten years ago, it is possible to be sentenced as a first time offender, and in some cases you may even qualify for ARD.
If this is your second DUI within the last ten years, Pennsylvania has mandatory minimum jail sentences. At this point, your legal defense has to begin considering all aspects of the case and how the allegations can be attacked. Even if you do not have the cash to go to trial, gathering the evidence against you through discovery procedures can help frame up your realistic chances of fighting the charges to avoid the stiff jail requirements. However, if the evidence against you is overwhelming, all is not lost — many counties have programs for house arrest and even work release to ease the burden of the required jail time. Your attorney can work hard for a good plea negotiation that includes the possibility of receiving a sentence of house arrest rather than actual jail time.
Keep this in mind — our criminal justice system is adversarial in nature. This means that the police and the prosecutors are going to stick the charges to you as hard as they can within the limits of the law. Judges are not going to look out for you, nor are the arresting officers, and certainly not the District Attorney’s office. The only person who can look out for your rights with zeal and skill is an attorney who has experience in handling DUI charges.
In any case, a DUI arrest is a nuclear event in your life. If you want to understand the charges against you, and be represented by an advocate who understands how the system works, please call my firm immediately for a free consultation.
Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will
A Will is an important legal document that gives every adult of sound mind in Pennsylvania the legal ability to decide how his or her assets will be distributed when they die.
Although the morbid thought of eventual passing causes many people to avoid contemplating a Will, establishing a simple estate plan with this important legal document prevents many negative consequences of dying intestate or without a Will.
In Pennsylvania, if you die without a will, you are considered to have died intestate. Dying intestate will result in your assets being distributed according to Pennsylvania intestacy laws. Although in many cases this may result in what you would have done otherwise in your Will, it leaves much uncertainty in the hands of what legislators thought was best for the average person in typical circumstances.
Establishing a will takes the uncertainty out of the distribution of your wealth and property when you die. Although a Will seems like something only the wealthy need, nothing could be further than the truth. Among other things, a Will can enable any person to:
- Establish a personal representative, i.e. a person who you want to manage your assets and creditors.
- Establish a guardian for your minor children.
- Give/bequeath specific property to people who would not be entitled to such property under Pennsylvania’s intestacy laws. (Example: you want a car or coin collection to go to a friend of the family)
- Distribute all of the leftover tangible and cash property left in your estate according to your wishes.
Almost everyone gets the basic idea of what a Will allows you to do. However, there several items of importance in your estate plan that are not addressed by a Will that many folks are not aware of.
Although a Will can direct the distribution of personal items, individual bank accounts, coin collections and other items wholly owned and controlled by the testator (person creating a will), the following items are not controlled by the will at all, unless the beneficiary is set to be the testator’s estate rather than another person or organization.
- Joint bank accounts with right of survivorship.
- pay on death bank accounts.
- proceeds from a life insurance policy.
- retirement plans, annuities, 401k, IRA and other similar investment items.
The items listed above will be payed out to the designated beneficiary without regard to provisions in your Will. This is especially important because in many cases, proceeds from retirement plans and life insurance are much greater than what is actually left in one’s probate estate. This means that from a practical standpoint, the monetary distribution allocation from your Will may be minuscule compared to the amount of wealth transferred outside of your will such as a life insurance policy. Therefore, it is extremely important not only to write your Will, but also to insure proper beneficiary designation that compliments or is consistent with your estate plan.
As with any estate plan, taxes are often a consideration if you have a net worth (or combined net worth with your spouse) above certain amounts. More advanced estate plans including the use of trusts can be employed to reduce these taxes. However, the complexity of trusts and estate plans for wealthy individuals and couples can increase the costs of your legal document preparation.
A living will in Pennsylvania is a statutory method of choosing how you wish to be treated by your attending medical professional in the event that you reach and end of life condition and you are incompetent to make your own medical decisions. A living will can pre-determine some of the more difficult decisions when you reach and end of life condition, such as whether you want a feeding tube or a respirator. Many people have objections on either side of these decisions but they never have the chance to voice them until it is too late, and then family members may squabble and disagree vehemently about how you should be treated in your condition. Drafting a Living Will can remove the guesswork and sometimes painful disagreements among family members if you would have to tragically reach such an end of life condition.
Drafting your legal documents now can save you uncertainty and anguish later in life both for you and your loved ones. Please call my office today to for a free consultation to determine your legal document needs.
*The content of the “Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will” section is not legal advice. The purpose of this page is only to provide a general overview of the three topics discussed.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is an extremely powerful legal document that authorizes another person to act on your behalf. Depending on the amount of authority granted, a general, durable Power of Attorney can give the authority of someone you trust to act on your behalf in just about every financial transaction imaginable — even if you become incapacitated. Obviously, who you give this power to should be contemplated carefully.
We never plan on devastating events in our lives, but having someone who you trust can save the family much grief in the event that you become incapacitated and have many loose ends in your financial affairs. You see, even if you are completely incapacitated, your wishes in your Will are of no consequence until you die. Consequently, there will be many legal hurdles for your loved ones to cross to manage your financial affairs if you do not designate a Power of Attorney.
“I purchased a brand new car, and I have already had to take it back for major engine work three times in the last year, is there something I can do?”
“My water heater broke, and the water destroyed my finished basement and my insurance company refuses to pay, can I go after them?”
“I was a beneficiary in a Will, and the executor refuses to pay me my share of money, how do get that money?”
“I had a contractor walk off the job to take a bigger project, can I force him to finish the work?”
Life is not always fair and neither are all of the people and organizations that we deal with. Often we have to put our trust in others, but it doesn’t always work out for the best, and often people don’t do anything to make themselves whole. If a situation has happened to you that has left you wondering whether you can recover for your injury or your economic loss you should always contact an attorney at at least get a free consultation to determine your rights and the merits of your case.
Please call my office today for a free case evaluation to find out where you stand.