Practice Areas

Criminal / DUI Defense

State Crimes:

  • 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

Federal:

  • 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:

DUI Infor­mation

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

Last 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.

Living Will

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.

Civil Disputes

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.