Merger of Criminal Offenses

Many times individuals enter a lawyer’s office wondering why they have been charged with numerous counts of the same or similar offense. While it is not always the case, it is important to know what crimes will or may “merge” for sentencing purposes after trial and conviction.  The legal explanation of merger of criminal offenses is detailed below, but the simple way to describe it is that when one crime merges with another, the defendant will only be sentenced on one – showing the obvious necessity of understanding this concept in practice.

To determine whether crimes merge for sentencing purposes, Merger of criminal offenses is governed by 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9765, titled, “Merger of Sentences”, which provides as follows:

No crime shall merge for sentencing purposes unless the crimes arise from a single criminal act and all of the statutory elements of one offense are included in the statutory elements of the other offense.  Where crimes merge for sentencing purposes, the court may sentence the defendant only on the higher graded offense. 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9765.

Criminal Defense Chester County

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

Each case, crime, and factual scenario must be addressed.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has explained the basis for isolating the particular portion of a statute at issue when determining whether two crimes merge.  The Baldwin Court stated:

“Therefore, while Section 9765 indeed focuses on an examination of “statutory elements,” we cannot ignore the simple legislative reality that individual criminal statutes often overlap, and proscribe in the alternative several different categories of conduct under a single banner. See, e.g., Aggravated Assault, 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702 (defining seven distinct violations of law); Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, 18 Pa.C.S. § 3123 (setting forth eight separate violations). Consequently, in such cases, we caution that trial courts must take care to determine which particular “offenses,” i.e. violations of law, are at issue in a particular case. See, e.g., Commonwealth v. Johnson, 874 A.2d 66, 71 n. 2 (Pa.Super.2005) (recognizing that a particular subsection of a criminal statute may merge with another crime as a lesser-included offense even though a different subsection of that same statute may not).  Com. v. Baldwin, 985 A.2d 830, 836 n.6 (Pa. 2009).”

In a criminal case, it is important to have an attorney who understands these concepts and knows when to raise these issues and how to effectively and persuasively argue this to a Court if it is a situation where the Commonwealth does not agree.  If you or a loved one has been accused, charged or convicted of a crime and are in need of legal help contact Mike DiCindio directly.

 


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Aggravated Assault by Vehicle while DUI

In previous blog posts the charge of Aggravated Assault by Vehicle was discussed. A related but more severe offense that can be found under the Pennsylvania Code is the offense of Aggravated Assault by Vehicle while DUI.  The statute for Aggravated Assault by Vehicle while DUI specifically requires a defendant to have caused serious bodily injury to another person AND that the injury was caused negligently as a result of a violation of the DUI / Driving Under the Influence statute. If these elements are met, the person has committed a Felony of the Second Degree.

Michael D. DiCindio Chester County Criminal and Personal Injury Attorney

Michael D. DiCindio Chester County Criminal and Personal Injury Attorney

In many of these cases, the major issue in these types of cases often is not whether there was serious bodily injury or whether or not there was a DUI offense, instead the crux of the argument becomes whether the DUI was a direct and substantial factor in causing the accident. In these cases is not uncommon that the Commonwealth as well as the defense teams will employ/consult and/or hire experts who will either support or reject the notion that the DUI was a direct and substantial factor in the causation.

It is important in these cases, as in any other that evidence be preserved quickly, interviews of any witnesses be conducted in a timely manner, and experts be consulted and hired when appropriate.

If you or a loved one is facing prosecution for an allegedly violation of the Aggravated Assault by Vehicle while DUI statute, contact Mike DiCindio directly to discuss your case and begin planning your defense.

Title 75 § 3735.1.  Aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence (Pennsylvania)

(a)  Offense defined.–Any person who negligently causes serious bodily injury to another person as the result of a violation of section 3802 (relating to driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance) and who is convicted of violating section 3802 commits a felony of the second degree when the violation is the cause of the injury.

(b)  Definition.–(Deleted by amendment).

 


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Aggravated Assault by Vehicle

While many car accidents are just that, accidents, there is a few circumstances that may turn an accident into a criminal proceeding. Aggravated Assault by Vehicle is a very serious offense which has serious ramifications to the accused’s reputation, livelihood, and future.

When an individual causes serious bodily injury to another person while engaging a violation of any law of the Commonwealth of

West Chester Criminal Lawyer

Chester County Criminal Defense

Pennsylvania which applies to driving will be guilty of a Felony of the Third Degree.

The key distinction between an accident and a case becoming a criminal matter is if the violation occurred with recklessness or with gross negligence. That becomes a question in which our case law in Pennsylvania has provided guidance. Nonetheless, these are serious situations and an allegation of committing Aggravated Assault by Vehicle can have a devastating impact on the individual accused. An aggressive defense must be mounted immediately in order to quickly and completely preserve evidence, evaluate potential defenses, and consult with expert witnesses about whether there are valid defenses to the allegations.

If you or a loved one is facing prosecution for an allegedly violation of the Aggravated Assault by Vehicle statute, contact Mike DiCindio directly to discuss your case and begin planning your defense.

 

 

Title 75 § 3732.1.  Aggravated assault by vehicle. (Pennsylvania)

(a)  Offense.–Any person who recklessly or with gross negligence causes serious bodily injury to another person while engaged in the violation of any law of this Commonwealth or municipal ordinance applying to the operation or use of a vehicle or to the regulation of traffic, except section 3802 (relating to driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance), is guilty of aggravated assault by vehicle, a felony of the third degree when the violation is the cause of the injury.

(b)  Sentencing.–

(1)  In addition to any other penalty provided by law, a person convicted of a violation of subsection (a) may be sentenced to an additional term not to exceed two years’ confinement if at trial the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the offense occurred in an active work zone.

(2)  In addition to any other penalty provided by law, a person convicted of a violation of subsection (a) as the result of a violation of section 3325 (relating to duty of driver on approach of emergency vehicle) or 3327 (relating to duty of driver in emergency response areas) and who is convicted of violating section 3325 or 3327 may be sentenced to an additional term not to exceed two years’ confinement when the violation resulted in serious bodily injury.

(3)  The prosecution must indicate intent to proceed under this section in the indictment or information which commences the prosecution.

(4)  The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, under 42 Pa.C.S. § 2154 (relating to adoption of guidelines for sentencing), shall provide for a sentencing enhancement for an offense under this section when the violation occurred in an active work zone or was the result of a violation of section 3325 or 3327.


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Plea Negotiations in Criminal Cases

In today’s modern legal world an increasingly small number of cases filed have been reaching trial, whether bench or jury.   While the reasons for this shift are numerous and subject to much debate, the take away is that securing counsel who is not only competent at litigation but also at plea negotiations in criminal cases is more crucial than ever. There are typically a few main ways negotiations occur – charge bargaining, sentence bargaining and grading bargaining. While these are the main negotiating points which are not exhaustive, each of these three may impact the other, and usually do.

Chester County criminal defense

Contact Chester County Criminal Lawyer Mike DiCindio to discuss your case today

Charge bargaining – when someone is charged in a criminal case it is not uncommon that they will be charged with numerous criminal offenses. When that occurs negotiations sometimes revolve around limiting the number of charges somebody will plead guilty to in any given case in exchange for the withdrawal of the remaining offences.

Sentence bargaining – where you determine through negotiations what a proper/acceptable sentence would be in a given in a specific instance. While not exhaustive, many times it focuses on the exchange of longer supervision for less incarceration or whether there will be a straight probationary sentence or a sentence involving incarceration. In more serious cases it may be about whether or not someone should be sentenced to state versus county prison.
Grading bargaining – many offenses in Pennsylvania, be it Theft or Assault, have different levels of grading. Some are summary offenses some are misdemeanor offenses and some felony level offenses. A lot of negotiations revolve around whether or not a higher grading can be negotiated down to a lower level offense.

As you can tell, the give-and-take in these three main categories of negotiations often impact the other and how they will be managed in a given situation. In the end, negotiations may breakdown and an agreement not reached – therefore, it is always important to know you have an attorney who is not only a skilled negotiator but a skilled litigator to protect your right to trial in the event that you do end up there.


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. Named as one of The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 under 40.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. – West Chester, Pennsylvania Criminal Defense attorney and sole member of DiCindio Law, LLC – was recently named as one of The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 under 40.

DiCindio Law, LLC is a law firm that focuses the majority of its practice on representing individuals charged with crimes or those injured by the negligence of others in West Chester, Chester County, and the surrounding areas in Pennsylvania.  As the sole member and head of the firm, Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. puts his passion for the law and dedication to his client’s interests into every case he handles.

Michael D. DiCindio Chester County Criminal and Personal Injury Attorney

Michael D. DiCindio – Chester County Criminal and Personal Injury Attorney

“The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 under 40 is a professional organization composed of the top trial lawyers from each state or region who are under the age of 40.  Membership into The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 under 40 is by invitation only and is extended exclusively to those trial lawyers practicing civil plaintiff and/or criminal defense law. Membership is extended solely to the select few of the most qualified attorneys from each state who demonstrate superior qualifications of leadership, reputation, influence, stature and public profile measured by objective and uniformly applied standards in compliance with state bar and national Rule 4-7.”  (Citing the The National Trial Lawyers: Top 40 under 40 website).

Michae

More information about Attorney Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. and the cases his firm handles can be found on the firm’s website: https://www.dicindiolaw.com

Mental Health Defenses and Requirements in Criminal Law

Mental health and its interplay with the criminal justice system is an often misunderstood issue. It is also a very complicated issue.  Two of the main issues that often arise when addressing mental health and how it applies to a criminal prosecution are competency and insanity.

Insanity is a legal defense. Competency is a requirement.

Before an individual can stand trial and be prosecuted, they must be “competent to stand trial.” If they are not, the prosecution will be halted until they are or potentially dismissed if they may never be again.  The defense of “insanity” is when the defense presents evidence usually from a forensic psychiatrist that the defendant was “insane at the time the offense committed.

Both require evidence/testimony and/or reports from professional experts in the mental health field, usually a forensic psychologist.  Further, it is not uncommon for these issues to be raised together or apart, as they are not mutually inclusive or exclusive.  Further, both have specific legal definitions that must be understood and evaluated by a criminal defense attorney before making a decision on whether or not to move forward with challenges to either, or both, of these issues.

 

Mental Health Defenses and Requirements in Criminal Law


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. Voted 2016 “Top Attorney”

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. – West Chester, Pennsylvania Criminal Defense attorney and sole member of DiCindio Law, LLC – was recently voted a “Top Criminal Attorney” by Suburban Life Magazine and Philadelphia Life Magazine.

West Chester, Pennsylvania – DiCindio Law, LLC is a law firm that focuses the majority of its practice on representing individuals charged with crimes in West Chester, Chester County, and the surrounding areas in Pennsylvania.  As the sole member and head of the firm, Michael D. DiCindio, Esq.  puts his passion for the law and dedication to his client’s interests into every case he handles.  Recently, Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. was voted a “Top Attorney” in the field of Criminal Defense by Suburban Life Magazine.

Suburban Life Magazine published its list of top attorneys from the Philadelphia area in the April 2016  issue.  Readers were invited to cast votes to help compile what the magazine referred to as, “a definitive list of attorneys to turn to for help and guidance when they need it most.”

More information about Attorney Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. and the cases his firm handles can be found on the firm’s website: https://www.dicindiolaw.com

 

 

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. Voted 2016 “Top Attorney”


“SORNA” Act (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act)

Many sexually related offenses fall under the “SORNA” Act (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act). SORNA states which offenses create a requirement for a convicted individual to register as a sex offender.  SORNA also provides the length of registration that is required depending on the charge.

Because of the intricacy of the Act as well as the severity of the consequences, there is much litigation in the appellate courts relating to different parts of the Act.  Whenever possible, an experienced criminal defense attorney will make every possible legal effort in order to secure an outcome that does not include registration as a sex offender.   The Act also determines the length of the registration requirements, of which there are three – Annual Registration for 15 years, Semiannual Registration for 25 years; Quarterly for life.

Some of the offenses that fall under the SORNA Act are:

 

Rape

IDSI

Kidnapping

Sexual Assault

Incest

Aggravated Indecent Assault

Indecent Assault

Sexual Abuse of Children

Unlawful Contact

Obscene Materials

Statutory Sexual Assault

False Imprisonment

Unlawful Restraint

(Note: this does not include all offenses covered and not every subsection of each above listed offense implicated the SORNA Act)


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

 

 

Preservation of Evidence

The preservation of evidence in criminal cases is incredibly important for the prosecution. For that reason and many more the preservation of evidence is crucial for the defense of a case, as well. No matter what criminal charge is currently pending against someone, as soon as possible after charges are filed, it is important for a defense attorney to preserve as much relevant and/or exculpatory evidence that he can in to begin to prepare a defense.

West Chester Criminal Lawyer

Chester County Criminal Defense

The Commonwealth dedicates significant resources and has what seems to be unlimited investigation tools at its disposal. When a client comes into a criminal defense lawyer’s office it is important to spending time speaking in detail about the case and the specific facts and circumstances. That will permit the lawyer to determine what investigation must be done. What evidence must be preserved. And what must be investigated further through the aid of a private investigator or in some circumstances and when appropriate the attorney himself.

 

This is true no matter what type of case. In a Driving Under the Influence, or DUI, cases there may be proof that someone was not driving, or evidence that can show they were not drinking. In assault cases there may be witnesses who can testify to the other parties being the first aggressor or a video that shows that the person who is charged shouldn’t have been charged. From a public drunkenness case all the way to a criminal homicide investigation preservation of evidence must be done swiftly and completely in order to properly prepare a defense.

 


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Robbery or Burglary in Pennsylvania

 

Chester County Criminal Lawyer

Chester County Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael D. DiCindio, Esq.

Many people commonly describe their home being broken into as “them getting robbed.” What many do not know is that, generally, this scenario in Pennsylvania is legally a Burglary.   Whether a crime is a robbery or a burglary in Pennsylvania boils down to the specific facts involved. A burglary in Pennsylvania occurs when an individual enters a building without permission and with the intent to commit a crime within. A robbery in Pennsylvania is able to be boiled down to a person using some level of force, or threat of force, during the course of committing a theft. Therefore, if your home is broken into, and your things are stolen, but you are not there or involved – you were not “robbed.”

There, of course, are different factual scenarios that would fit each crime depending on the circumstances, further, there are different variations within the statutes for each (the statutes can be found below). In the end, it is important to know that whether you or someone you love has been charged with robbery or burglary in Pennsylvania and the differences between each.  The defenses differ for both, but there is no doubt they are facing heavy potential penalties and a felony being on their record. Contact DiCindio Law, LLC to speak to Mike DiCindio directly and begin preparing your defense today.

 

18 Pa.C.S § 3701.  Robbery.

(a)  Offense defined.

(1)  A person is guilty of robbery if, in the course of committing a theft, he:

(i)  inflicts serious bodily injury upon another;

(ii)  threatens another with or intentionally puts him in fear of immediate serious bodily injury;

(iii)  commits or threatens immediately to commit any felony of the first or second degree;

(iv)  inflicts bodily injury upon another or threatens another with or intentionally puts him in fear of immediate bodily injury;

(v)  physically takes or removes property from the person of another by force however slight; or

(vi)  takes or removes the money of a financial institution without the permission of the financial institution by making a demand of an employee of the financial institution orally or in writing with the intent to deprive the financial institution thereof.

(2)  An act shall be deemed “in the course of committing a theft” if it occurs in an attempt to commit theft or in flight after the attempt or commission.

(3)  For purposes of this subsection, a “financial institution” means a bank, trust company, savings trust, credit union or similar institution.

 

18 Pa.C.S. § 3502.  Burglary.

(a)  Offense defined.–A person commits the offense of burglary if, with the intent to commit a crime therein, the person:

(1)  enters a building or occupied structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof that is adapted for overnight accommodations in which at the time of the offense any person is present;

(2)  enters a building or occupied structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof that is adapted for overnight accommodations in which at the time of the offense no person is present;

(3)  enters a building or occupied structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof that is not adapted for overnight accommodations in which at the time of the offense any person is present; or

(4)  enters a building or occupied structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof that is not adapted for overnight accommodations in which at the time of the offense no person is present.

(b)  Defense.–It is a defense to prosecution for burglary if any of the following exists at the time of the commission of the offense:

(1)  The building or structure was abandoned.

(2)  The premises are open to the public.

(3)  The actor is licensed or privileged to enter.


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale