What Is A Level 2 Sex Offender?

If you have been charged with a sex offense, you may be required to register as a sex offender if you are convicted. A registered sex offender is someone who has been convicted of a criminal sexual act that requires registration under local, state, or federal laws. These offenses can include both misdemeanors and felonies. Getting help from an experienced criminal defense attorney at DiCindio Law when you are facing sex crime charges might allow you to fight against the charges and possibly avoid a conviction and registration requirement.

What are the registered sex offender levels?

The nature of the crime, the specific offense that was committed, the age of the victim, and the offender’s propensity to commit a sex offense in the future will all be factored into determining the registered sex offender level. Federal laws have been enacted that establish the tier system for sex offenses based on specific criteria. States are likewise able to enact stricter laws but cannot enact laws that are less stringent than the federal laws for sex offense levels for the registry.

In 2007, the Adam Walsh Act was passed by Congress. This law established criteria for the classification of sex offenders. The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act was contained in Title I of the Act and requires all U.S. states to conform the state registration laws to the federal guidelines or face penalties. The assigned tier corresponds to the specific conviction for which an offender is sentenced. Because of plea bargaining, it might not reflect the entirety of the crime that was committed or the risk of repeated offenses.

Level 1 or Tier I offenses are the lowest level of sex offenses. These typically involve non-violent sex offenses with people who are not minors. People who are convicted of Tier I sex offenses must register on the Sexual Offender Registry for at least 15 years and report for verification annually.

Level 2 or Tier II offenses are also generally non-violent but involve minors. These offenses require people who are convicted to register as sex offenders for at least 25 years and report for verification twice per year.

Level 3 or Tier III offenses are considered to be the most serious. This category includes people who have been convicted of violent or non-violent offenses with adults or minors. If you are convicted of a tier III offense, you will have to register on the Sexual Offender Registry for the rest of your life and to report for verification four times per year.

Convictions that can result in sex offender registration

Under federal law, Tier I sexual offenses include the following types of crimes:

  • Public indecency
  • Possession of child porn
  • Voyeurism
  • Sexual contact without the victim’s consent

Tier II sexual offenses can include the following crimes:

  • Second sexual offenses committed by Tier I sex offenders
  • Transporting minors for sexual purposes
  • Trafficking minors for sexual purposes
  • Intimidation to get a victim to engage in sexual activity
  • Bribing a victim to engage in sexual activity
  • Sexual acts or contact with children aged 12 to 15
  • Sex offenses by a person in a position of authority over the victim, including teachers, babysitters, guardians, parents, coaches, foster parents, and others
  • Prostituting minors
  • Producing or distributing child pornography
  • Attempts or plans to commit the above offenses

Tier III sexual offenses include the following types:

  • New offenses committed by Tier II sex offenders
  • Most types of sexual assaults
  • Sex acts using force or duress
  • Sex acts with an unconscious or impaired victim
  • Sex acts with children younger than age 12
  • Sex acts with victims who cannot consent because of disability or mental impairment
  • Sex acts with victims who cannot physically say no
  • Sex acts perpetrated after the victim says no
  • Attempts or plans to commit one of the above-listed offenses

Restrictions that registered sex offenders face

Some states have different types of restrictions for registered sex offenders. Some states require offenders to register their names and addresses while others also restrict where they can live. Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law does not have restrictions on where sex offenders can live. However, some offenders may be restricted from living near parks, schools, or daycare centers while they are on probation or parole. Some offenders may be restricted from being around children under the age of 18, including their children.

Employers are not supposed to discriminate against people because they have been convicted of crimes. However, employers are required to consider the restrictions that are placed on sexual offenders. For example, if an offender is prohibited from being in contact with minors, he or she will not be able to work in a place where such contact is likely.

In the U.S., the Sex Offender Registry can be accessed by the public. From the national website, people can follow links to each state registry. Pennsylvania includes multiple types of information about sex offenders on its registry, including the following:

  • Name and aliases
  • Birth year
  • Residential street addresses
  • Location information about where homeless or transient sex offenders are typically found
  • Address where a sex offender attends school
  • Address where a sex offender works
  • Photograph
  • Offender’s physical description
  • Offender’s identifying marks
  • Description of vehicles owned by the offender with license plate numbers
  • Information about whether the offender is compliant
  • Whether the victim was under age 18
  • Description of the offense for which the offender has to register
  • Conviction date
  • When the offender first registered and the dates of updates
  • If possible, maps of the offender’s residence, work, and school

Since the public can access this information, sex offenders can have a difficult time finding employment and places to live.

Contact DiCindio Law

If you have been charged with a sex offense, a conviction could have a permanent impact on your life. You should talk to an experienced sex crimes attorney at DiCindio Law about your options as soon as possible. Schedule a consultation today by filling out our contact form or calling us at 610.430.3535.

Who Can Let the Police Search Your Home?

Warrantless searches of homes by the police are generally presumed to be unreasonable. Evidence that is gathered through an unreasonable search will generally be inadmissible in a criminal case. However, there are exceptions to the requirement for a search warrant. One of these exceptions is consent. Police officers normally will not have to get warrants to search homes when someone who appears to have the authority to consent to a search gives consent. When the homeowner consents to a search, the search will normally be considered to be lawful. However, the question of whether a search is legal will be more difficult when somebody who is not the homeowner gives consent. At DiCindio Law, we can help to determine whether a warrantless search was legal and file motions to suppress unlawfully collected evidence.

Landlord consent to searches

When police officers secure search warrants from a judge, they are legally authorized to enter and search apartments or homes. They are normally not allowed to search a tenant’s home when the landlord consents because it is the tenant’s home.

In some situations, a landlord can give consent to the police to search through a rental home or an apartment. For example, a landlord may let police into an apartment when there is an emergency. A landlord can also consent to officers searching other portions of an apartment building other than an apartment.

When a renter has vacated an apartment or has been evicted, a landlord can allow the police to search the apartment. However, how far along the tenant and landlord are in the process of eviction will be critical in determining whether a landlord’s consent is valid. If a landlord has given notice of eviction to the tenant, but the eviction has not yet taken place, the consent will not be valid.

Consent by other residents

Other residents of a home can give the police consent to search. However, if a roommate consents to a search, he or she will not have the authority to allow the police to search the other roommate’s separate bedroom.

Consent by residents to search the belongings of guests

The main resident of a home can give consent to search his or her home. If the resident has a guest who is temporarily staying in the home, he or she cannot give consent to the police to search inside of an item or area to which the resident does not have valid access such as the guest’s suitcase or purse. If a purse is left sitting open in the living room with drugs visible inside of it, the drugs will likely be admissible in a criminal case. However, if the purse was found in the guest bedroom and was closed, the drugs inside of it will likely be inadmissible if the police only had the resident’s consent to search the home.

Consent given by guests

A guest who is temporarily staying in the home but who does not live there can give the police consent to search the areas in which he or she has control over or joint access to use. However, a guest generally does not have the legal authority to let the police search throughout the house. The question of whether the search was lawful will turn on whether the police officers had a reasonable belief that the guest had normal access to other areas of the house that are searched.

Consent given by children

When a child gives consent to the police to search a home, the lawfulness of the search will depend on the circumstances. The court might consider things like how old the child is and how much of the home the child is allowed to use. For example, the consent given by a teenager who lives in a home while his or her parents are out of town might be considered to be valid. Even if a child has the authority to consent to a police search of a home, the police will likely not be able to search through everything. For example, the police officers may not have the authority to open a locked safe that the child cannot access.

Consent by housekeepers

Housekeepers are normally not considered to have the authority to consent to a search of the homes in which they work. A search might be considered to be unlawful when the police know that the housekeeper does not live in the home, is not allowed to use the home however he or she wants, and is only given access to the home at the homeowner’s discretion.

When a housekeeper lives in the home and gives consent to the police to search the areas that he or she controls, the search may be lawful. It is more likely that a person like a live-in nanny or housekeeper who gives the police consent to search will be considered to have the authority to do so when he or she has a greater ability to access the various areas of the home.

Get help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer

While police are legally authorized to search homes when they have obtained valid search warrants, there are limits on their ability to conduct warrantless home searches. If you have been charged with a crime after your home was searched by the police, you should talk to a criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law. We can evaluate the circumstances of the search and explain the rights that you might have. If the police conducted a warrantless search after they obtained consent to search your home from someone else, the search might be considered to be illegal. In that case, your attorney may file a motion to suppress all of the evidence that was seized from your home during the illegal search. If the evidence is suppressed, the charges against you might be dismissed. Contact our law firm today by calling us at 610-430-3535 or by submitting your information to us using our online contact form

What are Pennsylvania’s open container laws?

Drunk driving is one offense that can lead to a run-in with the law, but what about having an open container in your vehicle? Most states, including Pennsylvania, have open container laws that prohibit drivers and their passengers from drinking or possessing an open container of alcohol in a vehicle. Although Pennsylvania open container laws (codified at 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3809) are not complex, there are certain aspects of the law that are commonly misconstrued. Let’s look further into Pennsylvania’s open container laws.

Understanding Pennsylvania’s open container laws

It is important to understand Pennsylvania’s open container laws before you plan on transporting any alcohol within the state. Two important things to remember are:

  1. The open container laws apply regardless of whether the vehicle is moving or parked.
  2. An open container does not necessarily have to be consumed in order to be in violation of Pennsylvania open container laws.

Violations of these laws can result in criminal charges filed against you.

What constitutes an open container?

Generally, an open container is defined as an alcoholic beverage that:

  • has been previously opened
  • has a broken seal, or
  • has had some of the contents removed
  • Possessing an open container while driving sober

It is against the law for you to drive your vehicle with an open container present in your vehicle, even if you are not drinking. You may, however, legally transport a sealed alcohol container in the passenger area of your vehicle.

If you purchased a bottle of wine at a restaurant, it is lawful for you to transport the bottle home as long as it has been properly resealed. However, it is not advisable that you do so because it may cause issues if you were to be pulled over by a police officer.

If you would like to transport other previously opened containers, you may transport them in the trunk of your vehicle. The key is they must be well out of reach of the passenger area of the vehicle. If you do not have a trunk, then they can be stored in a secured, locked container.

Possessing an open container while driving drunk

It is illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol in the state of Pennsylvania. If an officer tests your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) and it is .08 or higher, then you are considered legally drunk, and you may be charged with a DUI. If you are caught driving drunk with an open container at your reach, you may face even more severe charges. Penalties and fines vary and are also based on prior offenses.

Possessing an open container as a passenger

Pennsylvania’s open container laws apply to both drivers and any passengers. Sometimes, passengers don’t realize that they are in violation of any laws, because they think that as long as they aren’t driving the car, that it shouldn’t matter if they drink. That is most definitely not true. As a passenger in violation of the law, you can face hefty fines. Additionally, everyone in the vehicle is subject to being penalized as well.

Possessing an open container as a bus or commercial vehicle driver

If you hold a commercial license and are found to be in violation of Pennsylvania’s open container laws while operating a commercial vehicle, you may face severe repercussions. Not only will you be held liable legally, but your employer may also be held liable for allowing you to drive in violation of the law. You may face license suspension as well as job loss.

Pennsylvania has a zero tolerance policy for school bus drivers in violation of open container laws. If you are found to be in violation of these laws, then you will immediately lose your job along with other penalties such as fines, license suspension, and possible jail time.

Possessing an open container in a vehicle designed for passenger transportation

We’ve talked about many of the violations associated with Pennsylvania’s open container laws, but there are also some exceptions to the law. Although anyone operating a vehicle cannot consume alcohol, a passenger of a bus, taxi, or limousine can legally possess or consume an open container of an alcoholic beverage. The alcohol must be in the back of the vehicle where the driver does not have access to it. Additionally, vehicles like a camper or a recreational vehicle (RV) are legally allowed to have open containers of alcohol as long as it is kept in the living quarters and away from the driver.

Being charged with an open container violation

Although a police officer does not need a warrant to search your vehicle, they must have probable cause to believe that you had an open container in your vehicle. They cannot illegally pull you over and search your vehicle.

Penalties of violating Pennsylvania’s open container law

If you violate Pennsylvania’s open container laws, then you are subject to penalties and fines. Violations are considered a summary offense. A summary offense is a fine of $500 and punishable up to 90 days in jail. You may also face license suspension.

Possible defenses

It is important to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer, who can review the facts and circumstances surrounding your case and point out possible defenses. If the officer conducted an illegal search of the vehicle, then a skilled attorney may be able to have the search and evidence against you deemed inadmissible. If you were a passenger and were completely unaware that there was an open container in the vehicle, then you may have a possible defense. There are several different defenses that may be applicable to you. An experienced attorney is able to negotiate on your behalf and may be able to lessen your penalties.

When you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney from DiCindio Law, you might be able to secure a more favorable disposition to the charges against you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling 610.430.3535 or by submitting your information through our online contact form.

What is possession with intent to deliver?

If you are arrested and charged with possession with intent to deliver drugs in Pennsylvania, you should seek legal counsel as soon as possible. A charge of possession with intent to deliver is one of the most serious types of drug crimes. This charge means that you were allegedly in possession of drugs with the intent to distribute them and may result in years in prison if you are convicted. If you are found guilty of this offense, you will be sentenced under the state’s minimum mandatory sentencing laws. This means that you will be sentenced to at least the minimum sentence that is prescribed by the law, even if there were extenuating circumstances. Retaining an experienced drug crimes attorney at DiCindio Law may help you to achieve a more favorable outcome to your case.

When can possession with intent to deliver be charged?

In Pennsylvania, you may be charged with possession with intent to deliver drugs in the following scenarios:

  • The police found you with a large number of illegal drugs beyond the amount that the police believe would have been for your personal use.
  • The police saw you allegedly dealing with illegal drugs.
  • The police found evidence that tends to demonstrate that you were engaged in dealing with drugs, including scales, large monetary sums, packaging materials, cell phones, and others.
  • You were alleged to have given drugs to your friends to use.

Police searches

If the police want to search your home or yard for drugs, they need to get a search warrant in most cases. Search warrants are issued by judges and are orders allowing law enforcement officers to enter and search a property for evidence. To get a search warrant, police officers must show that they have enough evidence to amount to probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and that evidence of the criminal offense will likely be found in the location to be searched.

When the police secure a search warrant, it gives them the legal right to enter and search your home or person. The police do not have to ask for your consent to search when they have a warrant.

In some limited circumstances, the police are allowed to search your home without a warrant. Some of the exceptions to the warrant requirement include:

  • You consent to the search.
  • Exigent circumstances exist
  • The evidence is in plain sight

 

Warrantless searches that do not fall under one of these exceptions are illegal. If that occurs, your attorney may file a motion to ask the court to suppress the illegally obtained evidence. If your lawyer is successful with the motion, the evidence will be inadmissible in the state’s case against you.

If law enforcement officers come to your home to search it without a warrant, you should not consent to the search. Instead, you should tell them that they need to obtain a warrant. Do not speak any more to them. If the police come to your home with a warrant to search, you should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you.

Police surveillance

Depending on the scale of the drug offense, the police might have been surveilling you for months or years before arresting you. The police may have recordings of your telephone conversations and substantial amounts of information about you and your alleged drug crimes. Frequently, law enforcement officers also use confidential informants to try to uncover evidence about illegal activities.

How a charge of possession with intent to deliver can hurt you

The penalties for drug crimes in Pennsylvania depend on the type and amount of drugs that were involved, whether a weapon was used, prior convictions, and other factors. A charge of possession with intent to deliver is a felony in Pennsylvania.

The penalties for a conviction of possession with intent to deliver can be very serious. Pennsylvania uses sentencing guidelines that determine the gravity of the offense, with scores ranging from 1 to 15. People who have prior records will likely receive longer sentences, higher fines, and more community service hours.

If you are convicted of possession with intent to deliver, you will have a criminal record. A criminal record can negatively impact your ability to find a job, obtain professional licenses, get financial aid for college, or join the military.

Possession of drugs in Pennsylvania

Possession of drugs in Pennsylvania occurs when you have controlled substances in your possession. If the drug is something that can be legally prescribed, you can still face charges if you have it but do not have a valid prescription for it.

Prosecutors must prove the following elements for you to be convicted of unlawfully possessing a drug:

  • You intentionally and knowingly possessed an illegal substance.
  • You knew that the drugs were there and that they were illegal, and you intended to control or use them.
  • You had constructive or actual possession of the drugs.
  • Defending against drug delivery charges

The particular defenses that your attorney might raise in your case will depend on the circumstances. If the officers did not have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop or arrest you, your attorney may file a motion to suppress the evidence against you. If the police submitted faulty applications for a search warrant and did not have probable cause, your attorney may also be able to win the suppression of the evidence. If a suppression motion is successful and results in the drugs and other contraband to be ruled as inadmissible, the prosecutor may have no choice but to drop the charges against you.

 

You need to understand the difference between actual and constructive possession of drugs. You do not have to be caught with drugs in your physical possession to be convicted of possession with intent to deliver. The prosecutor may be able to secure a conviction by showing that you constructively possessed the drugs. This occurs when you knew about the drugs and had control over them. For example, if the drugs were stashed in a home, vehicle, or on the street, you could be charged even if you did not have the drugs on your person. A defense attorney may argue that you did not know that the drugs were present or that you did not have control over them. For example, if you were visiting a home when the police served a search warrant and found illegal drugs, your attorney may argue that you did not control the drugs and that your mere presence is not sufficient to result in a conviction.

In some cases, prosecutors may argue that you were involved in a conspiracy even if you never dealt with any drug buyers or touched the drugs. This type of charge may be disproved by securing witness statements and cross-examining the police. Finally, an attorney may be able to argue that you merely possessed the drugs and did not have the intent to deliver them. In Pennsylvania, the simple possession of drugs for your personal use is a misdemeanor that commonly carries a probationary sentence.

What to do if you have been charged with possession with intent to deliver

If the police have charged you with possession with intent to deliver, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Michael DiCindio, with DiCindio Law, has prior experience as a prosecutor and understands how to defend against serious drug crime allegations. He has worked with prosecutors and understands how the local prosecutors and court system work. You should avoid talking to the prosecutor or the police without an attorney. Your lawyer will review what happened before and after you were arrested and will assess the evidence to determine whether the police had probable cause to charge you.

If the police stopped you in your vehicle and discovered drugs, your attorney will analyze whether the police officer had reasonable suspicion to stop you and probable cause to search your vehicle. Contact DiCindio Law for an evaluation of your case and to learn about the rights that you may have by calling 610.430.3535 or by submitting your information through our online contact form.

How Much is a Personal Injury Case Worth?

In personal injury lawsuits, the person wronged may claim damages based on their injuries that are caused by an accident for which another party is liable. This injured party is the plaintiff and will bring the suit against the person, persons, or organization that caused or contributed to their injuries.

How much a personal injury case is worth comes down to what damages are awarded to the plaintiff, or the person harmed. It also depends on if there is a sustainable claim and if insurance covers part or all of the damages.

Different types of damages may be awarded. Additionally, other factors determine how much a personal injury case is worth based upon the specific facts of the accident and the parties involved. If you are considering whether you may have a personal injury case and want to know how much it may be worth, here is what you need to know.

Introduction to Personal Injury Cases

In personal injury cases, a person has suffered injuries due to the actions of another person or company. If that person or company is found to be at fault or liable for this accident, then there may be an award of damages to cover the expenses and harm caused to the injured party.

The injured party is the plaintiff in these cases. The defendant is the one accused of causing the incident that resulted in harm to the plaintiff. If the defendant is found to be at fault or liable for the injury caused to the plaintiff, then damages may be awarded to the plaintiff to compensate that party for the harm incurred.

These damages may be covered by the defendant or by their insurance company, where applicable.

The Three Key Factors in Determining How Much a Personal Injury Case is Worth

The three main factors in determining how much a personal injury case is worth are: liability, damages, and insurance coverage. For a personal injury case claim to succeed, all three factors need to be present.

Liability

The defendant needs to be found to be a cause of the accident that harmed the injured party. In other words, the defendant needs to be liable. Some key issues that concern liability include whether the injured party was partly at fault, whether there was any waiver of claims for liability, the circumstances in which it occurred, the place that the accident took place, whether the plaintiff’s personal property was damaged, and the relationship between the parties.

State laws vary on whether a personal injury claim may be brought where the injured party was partly at fault. This circumstance may be referred to as contributory negligence. If you are unsure as to whether this applies to you, then contacting an attorney may be best before proceeding with bringing a claim in a personal injury case.

Damages

For a claim to succeed in a personal injury case, there needs to be some sort of damages. The plaintiff must have caused the accident resulting in the damages and injuries incurred by the plaintiff. These are actions for which the defendant must be held liable.

There are some nuisances with damages depending on the claim, the situation, and the applicable state’s law. For example, there are frequently defense claims that the injured party had a pre-existing injury/condition. The defendant may attempt to make an argument that the damages caused were not due to their actions but were instead due to the injured party already having a condition that would cause these damages.

Usually, the standard for this type of claim for defense is whether an average person could have sustained these damages and if the damages were reasonably foreseeable. However, it will depend significantly on the state in which the incident occurred and the specific facts of the situation that caused the accident.

These are many factors that may impact the damages and liabilities of a personal injury claim. It is critical to consult an attorney if you are unsure as to whether other considerations may apply to your situation.

Insurance Coverage

If insurance is involved, then the insurance company may cover some of the damages that the injured party sustained. Depending on the facts of the case, it could be the plaintiff’s insurance or the defendant’s insurance that covers all or part of the costs or damages incurred from the accident.

If there is insurance coverage that will cover a portion of the damages caused to the injured party, then the personal injury case may not be worth as much or may not be worth anything. If insurance covers all of it, then it is highly unlikely that the injured party can bring a claim against the party for which they allege was a cause of the accident that caused them damages. However, an insurance company may want to pursue a claim against the party at fault to recoup their costs.

Types of Damages Awarded in Personal Injury Cases

If a personal injury case claim is successful, then there may be an award of damages.

Typically compensatory damages are the type of damages awarded in personal injury cases. These types of awards are meant to restore the injured party to the place that they were in before the accident that caused harm because of the defendant’s actions. In other words, these damages are awarded with the intent to make the plaintiff “whole.”

Some of the common types of compensatory damages may include the following terminology:

  • Reimbursement of medical expenses
  • Payment to cover lost wages that resulted from missed work due to the injuries sustained
  • Cost of repairs or compensation to cover property loss, if applicable, caused by the accident that is the subject of the personal injury lawsuit
  • Monetary compensation to cover pain and suffering that resulted from the accident
  • Loss of spousal enjoyment, which is more commonly referred to as “loss of consortium” for personal injury cases
  • Damages to compensate for the loss of enjoyment of daily activities due to the accident
  • Compensation for emotional distress to reimburse for the psychological harm that the accident caused to the injured party.

Not all of the damages mentioned above will apply to every personal injury case. It will depend on the type of harm caused, the claim brought, and the state in which the accident occurred. For example, some states do not recognize each kind of damage listed, or they may use different terminology or categories. Other states may include more types of damages. Moreover, some states require physical harm or harm to property for there to be a claim for damages pertaining to psychological or loss of enjoyment.

Do You Want to Know How Much Your Personal Injury Case is Worth? Contact an Attorney Today

If you are considering filing a personal injury case against a party that has caused you harm and want to know how much your case is worth, then you should consider contacting a personal injury attorney. The specific facts of your situation can significantly influence and change the value of damages you may be entitled to due to the injuries you incurred because of an accident for which another party is liable. An attorney can help guide you through this process.

To discuss your situation and learn more about how much your personal injury case may be worth, fill out our contact form. One of our attorneys will give you a call to discuss your case and the potential value of bringing a claim in a personal injury case.

What’s the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?

Pennsylvania law classifies crimes differently, depending on their seriousness. A misdemeanor offense is considered to be a crime that is less serious than a felony offense. Felonies are considered to be the most serious types of crimes that can be committed and may carry long sentences to prison, large fines, or the permanent loss of your freedom. Misdemeanor convictions might result in jail sentences, smaller fines, and temporary punishments. Both misdemeanors and felonies are classified by degrees from the third degree to the first degree. For both misdemeanors and felonies, first-degree offenses are the most serious types. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony crime in Pennsylvania, our team at DiCindio Law can help you to understand what you are facing.

Categories of crimes

In Pennsylvania, crimes are divided into three main categories, including summary offenses, misdemeanor crimes, and felony offenses. Misdemeanors and felonies are further divided into different degrees, as previously described. The mandatory minimum and maximum sentences for a crime will depend on its classification and degree.

Summary offenses

Summary offenses are considered to be the least serious types of crimes. If convicted of a summary offense, your maximum penalty would be 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300. In most cases, being convicted of a summary offense will not result in jail time and will result in a fine-only sentence. While summary offenses may not result in jail, they still can result in a criminal record that you might have to disclose if asked if you have any convictions. Some common types of summary offenses include:

Misdemeanor offenses

Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies but are more serious than summary offenses. If convicted of a misdemeanor, you might face a mandatory minimum sentence of incarceration and a fine (DUI). Misdemeanors are classified by degrees with first-degree offenses being the most serious. Ungraded misdemeanors are typically treated the same as third-degree misdemeanors.

First-degree misdemeanors are the most serious of the misdemeanor offenses in Pennsylvania. If convicted of committing a first-degree misdemeanor, you will up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Some of the first-degree misdemeanor offenses in Pennsylvania include:

Second-degree misdemeanor convictions can result in a sentence of one to two years in prison and a fine up to $5,000. Some examples of second-degree misdemeanors include the following:

  • Impersonation of a police officer
  • Theft of property from $50 up to less than $200
  • Simple assault

Third-degree misdemeanor convictions can result in a prison sentence of up to one year and a $2,500 fine. Some examples of third-degree misdemeanor offenses include:

Felony offenses

Felony offenses are considered to be the most serious type of criminal offenses. In Pennsylvania, felonies include murder offenses, first degree-felonies, second-degree felonies, and third-degree felonies. The penalties for a felony conviction will depend on the degree and type of offense.

Murder offenses

There are several murder offenses in Pennsylvania, including first, second, and third-degree murder. First-degree murder is a capital offense that carries a potential sentence of death or life in prison. Second-degree murder carries a potential sentence of life in prison. Third-degree murder carries up to 40 years in prison. Conspiracy to commit murder, solicitation, and attempted murder all carry a potential sentence of up to 40 years. In an attempted murder case, the maximum sentence is 20 years if the attempt did not cause serious bodily injury. First or second-degree murder of an unborn child carries a sentence of life imprisonment.

Other felony offenses

A first-degree non-murder felony is very serious. If convicted of a first-degree felony, you may face up to 20 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. Second-degree felony offenses carry penalties ranging from up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $25,000. Third-degree felonies carry penalties ranging up to seven years and fines of up to $15,000.

Collateral consequences of felony convictions

If convicted of a felony offense, you will face repercussions that will continue beyond your sentence. You will have a felony conviction on your criminal record and may face the following types of restrictions:

  • Running for a public office
  • Serving on a jury
  • Obtaining financial aid for college
  • Receiving government benefits
  • Owning or possessing firearms if you were convicted of a violent crime

You may also face problems finding a job or a place to live. You may be unable to join the military or to enter certain types of professions.

Get help from an experienced criminal defense attorney at DiCindio Law

If you are facing criminal charges, you should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer at DiCindio Law may be able to build a strong defense case to protect your rights. Contact us today by filling out our contact form or by calling 610.430.3535.

Possession of a Controlled Substance in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania, like all other states, has regulations governing the possession of controlled substances and the penalties for violating the state laws on controlled substances. However, while all states regulate the possession of controlled substances, state law differs on what is classified as a controlled substance and the penalties for possessing certain substances.

Pennsylvania Law on Possession of a Controlled Substance

 

What Pennsylvania Classifies as a Controlled Substance

In Pennsylvania, the controlled substances that are subject to possession laws include common street drugs such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine, etc. However, Pennsylvania also regulates the elements used to compose these drugs. The penalties for illegally possessing controlled substances differ from the possession of the components used to make these substances. Additionally, the penalties for possession of controlled substances may vary depending on how it is scheduled and whether or not you are charged with intent to deliver.

Controlled Substance Schedules and Penalties

As an initial matter, the possession of any substance classified as a controlled substance under Pennsylvania law is illegal without a valid medical prescription. Pennsylvania, like most states, categorizes controlled substances into five different schedules. Schedule I substances are the most addictive and dangerous. Additionally, they have been determined to have no medical benefit. As such, possession of a controlled substance that falls into Schedule I under Pennsylvania law will always result in a violation of illegal possession of a controlled substance.

For controlled substances classified in Schedules II-V, it is illegal to possess such substances without a valid medical prescription. The different schedules are intended to categorize substances based on how their potential danger and the value of their medicinal use. As such, Schedule II substances are seen as more dangerous when their medical benefit is weighed against their potential for abuse. Considered less dangerous are Schedule III, IV, and Schedule V, with Schedule V considered the least dangerous of the five schedules of substances, with the most potential for medical benefits.

Why the Schedule Classification of a Controlled Substance Matters

If charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver in the state of Pennsylvania the penalties will generally be more severe for the higher level scheduled substances compared to the lower ones. However, there will be exceptions to this. This is why it is a good idea to understand every element if you are charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession with the intent to deliver.

Penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance in Pennsylvania

Without a valid medical prescription to possess a controlled substance, it is illegal in Pennsylvania to have in your possession a substance classified as a controlled substance. For first violations, a charge of unlawful possession carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Subsequent charges of illegal possession of controlled substances have higher penalties. Another conviction of possessing a controlled substance in Pennsylvania without a valid medical prescription can result in more potential jail exposure.

Other Penalties for Possession Related to Controlled Substances

Certain substances cannot be possessed without a legitimate use. Moreover, other controlled substance precursors are illegal if they are possessed with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance. Penalties for unlawful possession of these substances in Pennsylvania can include a fine of up to $15,000 and prison time of up to seven years.

Related Laws on Possession of a Controlled Substance in Pennsylvania

 

Possession of a controlled substance With Intent to Distribute

Possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute that substance typically carries higher charges and penalties. This charge will depend on factors such as the amount in your possession and what type of substance it was. In Pennsylvania, the laws vary substantially depending on the kind of substance and other pertinent factors such as past criminal background, drug packaging, and whether there was money involved. This list is not exhaustive, so it is wise to seek legal advice if you are unsure of your circumstances and believe you could be facing these charges.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Pennsylvania law also prohibits the possession of drug paraphernalia. The definition is widespread and includes many devices that could be used to transport, use, make, distribute, or consume a controlled substance.

Separate Offenses

If you are charged with violating multiple laws surrounding possession of a controlled substance in Pennsylvania, such as possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, then each offense counts as a separate offense. That will mean that each conviction will carry its own fines and penalties, which can add up substantially.

Defenses to Charges of Possession of a Controlled Substance in Pennsylvania

There are potential defenses to a charge of possession of a controlled substance in Pennsylvania. Some of these include:

  • Situations in which the police discovered the substance in a non-legal situation (e.g., without a valid warrant to search an individual’s car or home)
  • Instances where the warrant was deficient in some manner that violates the individual’s Constitutional rights
  • Situations where there is insufficient evidence to prove that the individual had actual possession of the controlled substance.
  • The laws on this are complicated, so it is wise to consult an experienced attorney to learn more about what possible defenses you may have and the nuances involved.

Protect Yourself and Contact an Attorney Today if You are Charged With Possession of a Controlled Substance

Given the high fines, penalties, and possible incarceration time, if you have been charged with possession of a controlled substance or a component used to manufacture controlled substances, then you may want to contact an attorney with expertise in this area. The laws on this are complicated, and it is crucial to understand the charges that you are facing to understand your options and the potential consequences.

If you are concerned about a potential charge of possession of a controlled substance in Pennsylvania and need help understanding the legality and consequences for your situation, fill out our contact form. Someone will get back to you to discuss the specifics of your case and how we may be able to help.

What Is The Difference Between Aggravating and Mitigating Factors?

When people in Pennsylvania are found guilty of crimes, judges will need to determine what sentences are appropriate. The determination of sentences for people convicted of crimes will depend on multiple factors. Judges analyze the various factors with which they have been presented to determine the sentences that they hand down to convicted defendants. If you are facing criminal charges in West Chester or the surrounding area, an experienced attorney at DiCindio Law can explain the sentencing range that may apply if you are convicted as charged.

What governs sentences?

State statutes and the constitution govern sentences. Under the Eighth Amendment, cruel and unusual punishments, excessive fines, and excessive bail are all unconstitutional. The Eighth Amendment applies to the states under the Fourteenth Amendment. In federal court, there are multiple federal statutes and federal sentencing guidelines that control sentencing. In state criminal courts, state statutes and constitutions govern the sentencing procedures. The statutes often contain sentencing ranges for different types of criminal offenses that range from mitigated sentences to aggravated sentences.

What are aggravating and mitigating circumstances?

Most criminal offenses are defined in statutes or constitutions. The laws that identify the various crimes will also list the proper punishment. For example, a law might explain that a violation is a misdemeanor or felony and list a fine or jail sentence. The punishments are typically listed as ranges up to a maximum. When someone is convicted of committing a crime, the judge will consider specific aggravating or mitigating factors to decide the sentence that he or she should hand down. Mitigating factors are extenuating circumstances that might lead to a reduced sentence. Aggravating factors are circumstances that increase the defendant’s culpability and could lead to an enhanced or maximum sentence.

Some of the common types of factors that judges consider include:

  • Whether the defendant has prior convictions
  • Whether the defendant was an accessory or the primary offender
  • Whether the defendant acted under great stress or duress
  • Whether the defendant’s actions hurt someone
  • Whether the defendant acted in a particularly cruel, destructive, or vindictive manner
  • Whether the defendant is genuinely remorseful

If a defendant is found guilty of a criminal offense following a trial, the judge will determine what the defendant’s punishment should be. Criminal statutes will set maximum sentences based on the classification of the offense. Felonies carry the most serious penalties. Judges have a degree of discretion regarding sentencing. At a sentencing hearing, the defendant and the prosecutor will have the chance to offer evidence for the judge to consider.

Aggravating factors

At sentencing hearings, the prosecutors can present evidence of aggravating circumstances that could result in a harsher sentence. Some statutes list specific aggravating factors that judges can consider. One type of aggravating factor that judges commonly consider is if a person has a record of committing similar crimes in the past. Other aggravating factors might relate to how the crime was committed, including using a weapon or the seriousness of the victim’s injuries.

Repeat offenses can result in harsher penalties. In Pennsylvania, there is a three-strikes law for violent offenses. Judges may impose harsher sentences when the victims are vulnerable, such as a crime of violence against an older person or a child. Other types of vulnerable victims might include people who suffer from physical or mental disabilities or who are incapacitated. Defendants who were in positions of authority over their victims may receive harsher sentences. Crimes against vulnerable victims and those committed by people in positions of authority are often classified as more serious offenses under the state’s laws.

Hate crimes are crimes that occur because the defendants were motivated by animus or bias based on the victims’ protected characteristics, including religion, race, national origin, and others. Crimes that are motivated by hate and bias may be punished more severely.

Mandatory minimum sentences are common for many types of crimes, including DUIs. These are sentences that the legislature has determined that judges must impose at a minimum for a conviction. A judge can sentence you to the mandatory minimum but cannot sentence you to something less.

Mitigating factors

Defense attorneys can present evidence of mitigators that support lenient sentences. Criminal statutes typically do not list mitigating factors. However, courts have held that attorneys may present mitigating factors when they are relevant to sentencing. Some of the common types of mitigating factors that courts may consider include:

  • No prior criminal record
  • Playing a minor role in the crime
  • The victim’s liability
  • Past abuse that led to the criminal conduct
  • Provocation
  • Emotional distress
  • Physical or mental illness
  • Genuine remorse

If a judge finds that significant mitigating factors are surrounding your offense, he or she may sentence you in the mitigated range of the sentence instead of the presumptive sentence. If a judge finds that there are significant aggravating factors, he or she may sentence you to the aggravated or maximum sentence for the convicted offense.

Contact DiCindio Law

If you have been charged with committing a criminal offense, you should get legal help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Michael DiCindio has previous experience working as a prosecutor and understands how the state builds cases against people charged with crimes. His experience and skill as a litigator and criminal defense lawyer help him to aggressively defend his clients against the charges that they are facing. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation by calling us at 610.430.3535 or by sending us an email through our online contact form.

When Is It Too Late For A DUI Plea Bargain?

The DUI process moves quickly after an arrest. It is important to understand your options in the process. If you are considering taking a plea bargain read on to find out when is the best time to accept for your criminal case.

What is a plea bargain?

A plea bargain is another term for an agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor. The terms of the agreement require the defendant to plead “not guilty” in exchange for a negotiated alternative to undergoing a jury trial. Typically, the plea bargain involves:

  • A lesser charge
  • A lighter sentence

When should you accept a plea bargain?

Depending on the circumstances of your case, a plea bargain may be a no brainer. However, there is some strategy to accepting a plea bargain. Too many people accept a plea bargain without realizing that there could be more advantageous options available.

So, how do you know when you should accept a plea bargain? The first plan of action should be to talk to your attorney. If you don’t have an attorney during the DUI process, you should definitely consider getting one. An attorney who is familiar with the DUI criminal process will know whether the deal you are being offered is a favorable one or not.

Additionally, an attorney can look at the weight of the evidence that is against you to determine whether the charges could potentially be dropped or lessened. Your defense attorney could cause the prosecution to realize that their case doesn’t have all of the elements to make a strong case against you, causing the prosecutors to offer a better deal. It is important to understand that prosecutors are paid to get convictions, so having an experienced attorney fighting for your rights is essential. There are many different strategies to take in the plea bargain process, and a skilled attorney can help map out the best course of action.

Is it really a bargain?

Usually the first offer from the prosecution is not very favorable. In fact, it may not even be a “bargain.” Both prosecutors and public defenders are charged with moving cases through the justice system as quickly as possible and the plea bargains offered are not always your best option. They know that given your situation, it is easy to leap at the first bargain offered. This is why it is important to have a private attorney who is motivated to fight for your best interests.

What are the advantages of a plea bargain?

The plea bargain is generally a favorable option for both the defendant and the prosecution. For most defendants getting a lesser charge or a lighter sentence is a better option than going to trial with the possibility of getting convicted of every charge to the fullest extent. In fact, most criminal cases are settled with a plea bargain. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of a plea bargain on both sides.

A conviction is guaranteed

Prosecutors get paid to secure convictions. With a plea bargain, not only does the defendant get a deal that can put them in a better situation, but the prosecutor also gets a guaranteed conviction. By going to trial there is always the chance that the jury will find the defendant not guilty. This is why plea bargains are very common, because each side benefits. The defendant will still have a penalty that can still bring a measure of justice that may have not been otherwise.

It brings the cost of trial down

The cost of trial can be very expensive. Now a DUI case may not be as expensive as a drug case, but the fact is every case that goes to trial costs money. For example, the O.J. Simpson trial went on for 135 days, was televised, and the prosecution costs alone was over 9 million dollars.

It reduces jail populations

Because of high crime, Pennsylvania jails are known for overcrowding, so much that at one point they were shipping inmates to other states. However, that practice has been on a downward trend in the last few years as the numbers of inmates are dropping. Part of this downward trend is due to plea bargains. With plea bargains moving cases through the justice system much faster, jails have become less crowded than in the past.

What are the disadvantages of a DUI plea bargain?

While there are many advantages to a plea bargain, there are also some disadvantages that should be noted. Let’s take a look at the negative impacts of plea bargains.

It eliminates the right to trial by jury

The US constitution gives everyone the right to a trial by jury. However, the plea bargain acts as a workaround to this amendment. There may be cases where the plea bargain is seen as a coercive way to eliminate that right. Every defendant should have the option and right to go to trial for the plea bargain to be effective.

The plea bargain may lead to insufficient investigation processes

Because the majority of criminal cases are settled by plea bargain, there could be an argument presented that investigatory processes are impacted. Time may not be spent on investigating evidence because the expected outcome of the case is for the accused to plea out. Instead of obtaining justice, the goal is to secure a deal.

A criminal record is created for the innocent and no real justice is served

When an innocent person is charged with a crime, it can be devastating. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime, it may be in their best interest to take a plea deal, even if they were not at fault. There are many reasons why an innocent person would accept a plea deal, but in the end, there is not real justice.

Being charged with any criminal charge is a scary situation. That is why you need to make smart decisions when going through the process. The decisions you make now can have an effect on your future. Talking with a private DUI attorney is key to knowing whether you should take that plea bargain or not. If you are looking for an experienced DUI attorney, contact the attorneys at DiCindio Law, LLC today.

Can An Aggravated Assault Charged Be Expunged?

Being arrested and charged for a crime can negatively impact your future more than you think, effecting your personal life and limiting your opportunities professionally. Even in cases where charges were ultimately dismissed, your public record will still reflect the charges that you were arrested for.

The Pennsylvania expungement law was recently expanded in 2018 to include some violent offenses, such as aggravated assault. If you have been convicted of aggravated assault, you may be considering getting your criminal record expunged. Removing an aggravated assault criminal charge from your public record is a difficult process, but it can be done if you meet the qualifications. Find out the details of how you can seek removal of your criminal record from the public database.

What is aggravated assault?

Aggravated assault is a felony charge that is not taken lightly in the Pennsylvania justice system. Here are some examples of aggravated assault:

  • Striking or the threat of striking a person with a weapon or object
  • Using a firearm to shoot someone or threatening to shoot or kill someone while pointing a gun at them
  • Committing assault with the intent to commit another felony crime
  • Committing assault that results in serious physical injury to someone else
  • Committing assault against a member of a protected class

Effects of a criminal record

When a person is charged with a crime, they may face jail time and court fees, as well as specific conditions such as probation or parole. The short-term effects are burdensome, but the long-term implications can be just as devastating. A permanent criminal record is filed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as well as the Pennsylvania State Police, local law enforcement, the court, and government agencies. The criminal record contains details pertaining to arrest, conviction, and any supervision details. This means that future employers are able to pull up your criminal record in a background check and see that you have a conviction for aggravated assault. This could have a big impact on current or future employment.

How to get your criminal record expunged

Because of the negative impact a criminal record can have on your life, it is important to consider getting your criminal record expunged wherever possible. Here are the steps that you need to take in the expungement process.

Step 1 – Eligibility

The very first step determines whether you will be eligible to have your record expunged. In Pennsylvania, you are eligible if you were convicted of a crime, and meet any one of the following:

  • You are at least 70 years old and have had a clear record for 10 years you were released from supervision
  • You have a summary offense, and were free of arrest or conviction for 5 years following the date of conviction
  • No disposition was ever received or recorded by the repository within 18 months (proof must be submitted)
  • The court has ordered expungement
  • You are at least 21 years of age and have been convicted of a violation under Section 6308 (relating to the illegal transport or sale of alcohol) and have satisfied all the terms of sentencing, then the court will issue an order to expunge your record.
  • A record can be expunged 3 years after the individual has been deceased.

Step 2 – Obtaining a background check

After determining whether you are eligible to have your record expunged, you must obtain a background check from the Pennsylvania State Police. It takes about 2-4 weeks to receive the results. This background check must be included with the petition that is filed with the court. Without the background check, the clerk of the court may rule the petition as deficient.

Step 3 – Filing the necessary filings with the Court

Filing the necessary paperwork with the court in Pennsylvania will consist of the petition, a proposed Order, a verification form, a certificate of service, a background check, along with any other additional documentation that you feel is necessary. In the case of expungement for an aggravated assault, the defendant must fill out the 790 petition form (which is specific to misdemeanors and felonies). Additionally, a filing fee of $147.00 must accompany the petition.

Step 4 – Service on the District Attorney’s Office

After filing the petition with the court, you must serve the paperwork on the District Attorney’s Office that initially prosecuted the case. In certain counties, the clerk of the court will serve the petition on your behalf, but this should be confirmed prior to filing.

Step 5 – Response from the District Attorney’s Office

After the petition and accompanying documents is served upon the Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Office, they will have the chance to decide whether or not they will consent or object to the request for expungement. Generally, the District Attorney’s Offices in Pennsylvania has 30 days from the date of service to make their decision.

If the District Attorney’s Office reaches a decision where they object, a contested hearing will have to be held where testimony, evidence, and defense must be presented as to why the Judge should grant the order of expungement.

Step 6 – Distributing the Order of Expungement

The Order for expungment can be granted by the judge without the need for hearing if the District Attorney’s office consents. Regardless how the order was granted, the next step is for the expungement orders to be forwarded to all necessary law enforcement, court, and government agencies.

The entire expungement process typically takes 4 – 6 months under most circumstances. This means that your criminal record should be cleared by all law enforcement, court, and government agencies within the 4 – 6 month time frame.

Importance of an Attorney

The expungement process requires that you file documents with the court, follow strict procedural rules and present evidence to support the expungement. In order to best represent yourself, you need the experience of a seasoned expungement lawyer. The attorneys at DiCindio Law have significant experience trying expungement cases in Pennsylvania. Contact the experience attorneys at DiCindio Law today!