How Do You Prove a Domestic Violence Case?

How Do You Prove a Domestic Violence Case?

Domestic violence cases can sometimes be challenging for prosecutors to prove. These cases might lack enough evidence or have recalcitrant witnesses. Many of the situations that lead to domestic violence cases happen in private and have no other witnesses other than the accused person and the alleged victim. Often, the two people involved will provide different stories about what happened. Juries are left to decide which person is telling the story in a way that is closer to what happened. If you have been charged with domestic violence, the criminal defense attorney at DiCindio Law can help you to understand how the prosecutor might try to prove the allegations against you. Here is what you need to know about domestic violence charges, the evidence that a prosecutor might use in your case, and the types of defenses that might be available.

How domestic violence differs from regular assault charges

There is no separate crime of domestic violence in Pennsylvania. Instead, domestic violence is used as a sentence enhancer for various types of crimes, including assault, harassment, stalking, and others. When an officer is called to the scene of a regular assault, the officer will decide whether or not to make arrests. In domestic violence cases, however, the officers must make arrests and cannot decline from doing so when they believe that domestic violence is likely to have occurred.

While some people have the mistaken belief that alleged victims of domestic violence can drop the charges against them, they do not have the authority to do so. The prosecutor is the sole person who can decide to dismiss domestic violence charges. Prosecutors may sometimes pursue cases even when the victims do not want them to move forward. Here are some of the types of evidence that a prosecutor might use to try to secure a conviction for a domestic violence crime against you.

Physical evidence

Juries are more likely to believe objective facts than the testimony of people who might be biased. This means that a prosecutor will try to present as much physical evidence as possible to try to secure a conviction. Some examples of physical evidence that might be presented in a domestic violence case include photographs of any injuries, damaged or destroyed property, and medical reports. While this type of evidence might be more trustworthy, defense lawyers can present alternative explanations for any physical evidence that might be presented.

Witnesses

If third parties heard or saw an incident that led to domestic violence charges, the prosecutor may call them to testify. The alleged victim and the responding officers may also be called as witnesses. The officers might testify about the observations that they made after they arrived and the behavior of both the defendant and the alleged victim. Bystanders who saw or heard the incident might also be called to testify. Defense lawyers can cross-examine any witnesses that are called by the prosecution to challenge the observations that they made.

The alleged victim

The alleged victim in a domestic violence case is important. He or she may be asked to attend important hearings, including the preliminary hearing and a jury trial. The prosecutor might call the victim to testify against the defendant. However, in some cases, the victim might refuse to testify. Spouses enjoy a privilege against being called to testify against each other in certain circumstances. However, there is an exception to this rule in cases involving domestic violence perpetrated by one spouse against the other. Some alleged victims of domestic violence might still hesitate to testify. In those cases, the prosecutor might opt to rely on other evidence instead of calling the alleged victims to the stand.

Police officers

In many domestic violence cases, the responding police officers are key witnesses. Police officers may be asked to testify about what they observed, including any injuries, property damage, and the behavior of both parties.

What are some defenses to domestic violence charges?

While a prosecutor might present evidence and testimony to try to secure a conviction for a domestic violence offense, defendants can raise defenses to their charges. Some defenses might result in dismissals or not guilty verdicts while others might help you to secure a reduced sentence. Here are some of the defenses that might be available, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Lack of knowledge

Some domestic violence cases involve witnesses who believed that they were in danger of physical harm and can lead to convictions even if no physical contact occurred. In these cases, the defendant might not realize that their actions caused the alleged victim to be fearful. A defense lawyer might be able to show that the defendant had a lack of knowledge or that other reasonable people in the victim’s situation would not have experienced fear.

Self-defense

Some people are charged with domestic violence when they were acting in defense of themselves. For example, if an officer is called to a home and sees that one person has visible injuries, the other person might be arrested even if the alleged victim was the initial aggressor. When you cause physical harm to someone else when you are trying to defend your life, it is not a crime. For example, if your spouse threatened you with a gun during an argument and you punched him or her to prevent him or her from shooting you, you would have a good argument for self-defense.

There may be other defenses that your attorney might raise to defend against your charges. The defenses that might be available will depend on what happened in your case.

Get help from DiCindio Law

It can be scary to be charged with an act of domestic violence. If you are convicted as charged, you may face serious consequences. Getting help from an experienced defense lawyer is important. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation by calling us at 610.430.3535.

Is Theft by Deception a Misdemeanor or Felony in Pennsylvania?

While most people in Pennsylvania understand what the general crime of theft is, they might be less aware of theft by deception. This offense is a type of theft that is committed by deceptive means. If you are charged with theft by deception, you should talk to an attorney at DiCindio Law to learn about your rights and the defenses that might be available to you.

What is theft by deception?

The crime of theft by deception is defined under 18 Pa.C.S. § 3922. This statute defines theft by deception as occurring when someone intentionally takes or withholds the property of someone else by the use of deception. People can be charged with this offense under any of the following three circumstances:

  • When the defendant reinforces or creates a false impression about his or her intention, the law, or his or her state of mind
  • When the defendant conceals information that would affect the victim’s judgment about engaging in a transaction
  • When the defendant fails to correct a mistaken or false impression that the defendant had created and that they knew would influence the victim with whom the defendant has a fiduciary relationship

Some types of deception will not be considered to be criminal. For example, if the person simply exaggerated about something or engaged in puffery, that is not considered to be theft by deception as long as a reasonable person would not believe the statements. Theft by deception also does not occur when a person’s falsehoods are not financially related.

Examples of theft by deception

Some examples of theft by deception could include the following:

  • Lying about having a serious medical condition to induce people to contribute money to a GoFundMe account
  • Altering the odometer reading on a vehicle to induce someone to buy it
  • Engaging in a phishing scheme while pretending to be a company to steal the victim’s confidential financial data
  • Selling stolen items to a pawn shop while signing an attestation of ownership form

What are the penalties for theft by deception in Pennsylvania?

The penalties and offense grading for theft by deception in Pennsylvania depend on the value of the property or money that is stolen as follows:

  • Value of less than $50 – Third-degree misdemeanor with up to 12 months in jail and fines of up to $2,500
  • Value from $50 to less than $200 – Second-degree misdemeanor carrying up to 24 months in jail and up to $5,000 in fines
  • Value of $200 to less than $2,000 – Misdemeanor of the first degree carrying up to five years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000
  • Value of $2,000+ – Felony of the third degree carrying up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000

If you are convicted of theft by deception, you will have a theft on your record that can follow you throughout your life. Many employers are hesitant to hire people who have theft convictions. This means it may be harder for you to find a job. You might also have trouble in your relationships and have trouble finding housing or obtaining credit.

Theft by deception defenses

When you are charged with theft by deception, it will be important for you to present a strong defense. You do not want to have a theft conviction on your record. The prosecutor will be required to prove all of the elements of the offense against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Your attorney will carefully review the evidence against you and investigate your case to build a vigorous defense. The defenses that might be available to you will depend on the facts of your case. Some of the potential defenses to a theft by deception charge include the following:

  • You did not obtain the property. Instead, the property’s owner lost or misplaced it.
  • The property’s owner freely and willingly gave you the property without inducement.
  • You had the clear intention to return the property.
  • The property owner misunderstood your conversation, and you did not engage in deception.
  • You had no intention to deceive the victim.

Hiring a criminal defense lawyer

Retaining an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend you against a charge of theft by deception can potentially make a difference in the outcome of your case. When you are facing this type of charge, you must ensure that your rights are protected and that you fight against it with as much evidence as possible.

At DiCindio Law, Michael DiCindio is a former prosecutor and experienced defense lawyer. He understands how the police and prosecutors build their cases and can work to present a strong defense for you. We can analyze your case and explain the legal options that you have. Mr. DiCindio can try to secure the most favorable plea possible for you or fight against the charges through trial. Schedule a consultation to learn about your rights by calling us at 610.430.3535 or by filling out our contact form.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Theft by Deception?

In every state, there are statutes of limitations that establish the time within which the state has to bring charges against people for committing crimes. If the state fails to file charges within the limitations period, the statute of limitations can serve as a complete defense to the charges. This means that a defendant can secure dismissal of any charges that are filed outside of the statute of limitations for the offense with which he or she is charged. Like other criminal offenses, theft by deception has a statute of limitations that prescribes the time within which the police and prosecutor must bring charges. DiCindio Law can help you to determine whether your charges were filed within the required period.

Understanding the statute of limitations

Statutes of limitations are meant to protect people who are charged with crimes. When too much time has passed from the date when an offense was originally committed, it can be more difficult to build a defense. This is because evidence and witnesses may be lost over time. It is unfair to punish people for alleged behavior that occurred years ago.

In general, statutes of limitations assign longer periods for felonies and shorter periods for misdemeanors. Some crimes, including murder, do not have a statute of limitations. For these types of offenses, the state can charge a defendant with the crime regardless of how long ago it occurred.

When the limitations period begins to run

Typically, the statute of limitations begins to run as soon as the criminal offense is completed. For example, if a crime has a statute of limitations of two years, the prosecutor would have from the time that the crime was committed until two years later to file the charge.

Trying to figure out when the limitations period begins for an offense that continues over days or weeks can be more difficult. However, the general rule is that the clock does not begin to run until the crime has finished. For example, if you set up a GoFundMe account after lying about having cancer and collected funds over a period of weeks, the limitations period would not start to run until the criminal offense ended. In that scenario, the limitations period would begin to run after you secured the last donation based on your deception.

Once the limitations period ends, it generally means that you will not be charged. However, some events toll the limitations period, which gives the prosecution additional time to file charges. For example, if you fled Pennsylvania and were gone for a couple of years before being discovered, the prosecutor may have more time to prosecute you.

The statutes of limitations in Pennsylvania

Statutes of limitations can be difficult to understand. For example, if you are charged with more than one offense, the limitations period could expire for a lesser offense but still allow you to be prosecuted for a major crime. Other timing problems can also be at issue. For example, depending on the circumstances of your case, your right to a speedy trial could be affected.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law can help you to understand the statute of limitations and other timing problems that might apply to your case. If it applies, a lawyer can help you to raise a defense based on an expired statute of limitations.

In Pennsylvania, the general statute of limitations for most crimes is two years from the date that they are completed. However, Pennsylvania has a five-year statute of limitations for major crimes. Under 42 Pa. C.S. § 5552(b)(1), theft by deception is listed as a major offense. This means that the statute of limitations that applies is five years instead of two.

Get help from an experienced defense lawyer at DiCindio Law

If you are charged with theft by deception, the penalties that you might face will depend on the value of the property you are alleged to have obtained through deception. Getting experienced legal help to defend against this type of offense is important. Whether you are convicted of theft by deception as a misdemeanor or felony, a theft conviction can cause collateral consequences in your life long after you have completed your sentence and paid any fines. Many employers complete criminal background checks and will not hire people with theft convictions. Having a criminal record can also cause problems with finding housing and obtaining credit, and a conviction could also cause harm to your personal relationships. Contact DiCindio Law today to learn about the statute of limitations and how it might apply in your case. We can be reached by telephone at 610.430.3535 or through our online contact form.

What Is The Burden Of Proof?

If you are facing criminal charges in Pennsylvania, you may have heard about the burden of proof and not know what it means. In the legal context, the burden of proof includes both the burden to produce evidence and to persuade the jury or court that what is alleged to have occurred happened. The burden of proof is different in criminal and civil cases. If you have questions about what it means in your case, DiCindio Law can explain it to you and discuss what the prosecutor will be required to prove to secure a conviction against you.

What is the burden of proof?

The burden of proof refers to how much evidence the prosecutor or plaintiff will be required to present to persuade the jury or court that the incident occurred as the prosecutor or plaintiff has described. When a legal dispute happens, the person who brings the lawsuit will have the burden to produce evidence that demonstrates that the facts that have been alleged are true and sufficient to establish the required elements. The burden may be lower or higher, depending on whether the case is civil, administrative, equitable, or criminal. During the phases of the case, the burdens might be different for each party.

The burden of production is a burden to present enough evidence for the case to be considered. Once the burden to produce evidence has been met by the prosecutor or plaintiff, he or she will then have the burden of persuading the jury or court that what he or she has alleged is true. The burden to persuade ranges from a preponderance of the evidence in many civil cases to beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal cases.

The person who prosecutes the case will always have the burden of proof, which may include the plaintiff in a civil lawsuit or the prosecutor in a criminal case. In the criminal context, this means that the prosecutor has the burden of proving the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal defendants do not have the burden of proving their innocence. Instead, criminal defendants have the presumption of innocence.

Burden of persuasion

The party that brings the action has the burden of persuasion throughout the case. If a prosecutor satisfies the burden of persuasion beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant will be convicted of the offense. In a criminal case, the prosecutor must prove all of the elements of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. He or she will likewise have the burden of persuasion to disprove all of the defenses that might be raised other than affirmative defenses.
“Some evidence” as a burden of proof

For inmates that are accused of disciplinary violations, the burden of proof that is carried by the prison officials is very low. They only need to present “some evidence” to show that the violation occurred.

Reasonable suspicion standard

Reasonable suspicion is a fairly low burden that police officers and government agents have when they conduct brief investigatory stops. The stops must be brief to meet this standard. Probable cause is necessary for a more thorough stop and search. Reasonable suspicion is a reasonable belief that someone may have committed a crime or violation like a traffic offense. However, the Supreme Court has held that reasonable suspicion must be articulable, specific, and individualized. A hunch that someone might have done something wrong is insufficient. For example, if an officer pulls you over because he or she thought you looked shady, that is not enough to amount to a reasonable suspicion that you may have engaged in criminal activity.

When you are stopped by the police, the stop is considered to be a Fourth Amendment seizure of you by the officer who stopped you. If you are subsequently charged with a crime, the prosecutor will need to show that the officer who stopped you had a reasonable suspicion that a crime or other offense had occurred. Police officers cannot stop you unless they can identify circumstances and facts that amount to reasonable suspicion.

Probable cause standard

Probable cause is a standard of proof that there is a fair probability that a crime occurred or that evidence of a crime will be discovered in a search. When an officer wants to secure a warrant for a person’s arrest or a warrant to search a home or other location, the officer must submit an affidavit to the court that demonstrates the probable cause to believe that a crime has occurred or that evidence of a crime will be found in the location to be searched. Probable cause to believe that a defendant committed a crime is also the standard that is used by grand juries for indictments and at preliminary hearings for people who are charged with crimes that do not go through the grand jury process. Traditionally, probable cause has been interpreted as meaning that it is more likely than not to have occurred. By contrast, reasonable suspicion requires a lower degree of certainty than probable cause.

In some situations, police officers do not have to have evidence such as when someone with authority gives knowing and voluntary consent to a search. When an officer conducts an involuntary stop to briefly detain and question a person or to pat down the clothing of a person, the officer must have reasonable suspicion that the person has engaged in criminal activity. For example, if an officer sees you in a high drug area talking to someone and appearing to exchange something with him or her, the officer may have a reasonable suspicion to believe that you may have engaged in a drug transaction. This would be enough to pat down your outer clothes and to briefly question you. To arrest someone or for someone to be indicted by a grand jury, probable cause to believe that a crime was committed by the arrested or indicted person is required. In the drug scenario, the officer might have probable cause if he or she finds a needle in your pocket when patting your clothing down, for example.

Some credible evidence standard

The some credible evidence standard is a low standard of proof that is frequently used in Child Protective Services. This standard is used when an intervention is urgently needed to bring the case into the legal process. It is lower than by a preponderance of the evidence, which is the standard used in civil cases. Some credible evidence is a standard that is much lower than beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the standard used in criminal cases. However, some federal circuit courts of appeal have found that this standard is constitutionally insufficient in child protective services hearings.

The preponderance of the evidence burden of proof

The preponderance of the evidence standard of proof is the burden of proof used in most types of civil cases and family court decisions that involve monetary damages. It is also the burden of proof that is held by criminal defendants when they assert affirmative defenses or present mitigating evidence. For example, if a criminal defendant asserts the affirmative defense of self-defense in an assault case, he or she will be required to prove the affirmative defense by a preponderance of the evidence.

The preponderance of the evidence standard will be met if what has been alleged is found to be likelier to be true than untrue. This standard is also used when an employee loses his or her job because of allegations of misconduct and seeks unemployment benefits. The employer will be required to prove the misconduct was committed by the employee by a preponderance of the evidence for the employee to be found to be ineligible for unemployment compensation.

The preponderance of the evidence standard is higher than probable cause but lower than beyond a reasonable doubt. Since criminal cases involve the possible loss of liberty, prosecutors must prove the elements of the charged offenses beyond a reasonable doubt instead of by a preponderance of the evidence.

Clear and convincing evidence standard

The clear and convincing evidence standard involves a higher required burden of proof than by a preponderance of the evidence. It is used in certain administrative court decisions and some civil and criminal matters. For example, prisoners who file habeas corpus motions to avoid capital punishment are required to prove their innocence by clear and convincing evidence.

The clear and convincing evidence standard is used in several different types of cases, including guardianships, paternity cases, child custody matters, the probate of wills, petitions to remove people from life support, juvenile delinquency, and others.

In a case that requires clear and convincing evidence, the evidence that the party presents must be substantially likelier to be true than untrue. The court must have a strong belief in the factuality of the evidence. This is a higher burden of proof than the burden of proof in most civil cases that only require the plaintiffs to prove their cases by a preponderance of the evidence. The clear and convincing evidence standard is used in cases involving equitable remedies or civil liberty interests.

The beyond a reasonable doubt burden of proof

Beyond a reasonable doubt is the highest burden of proof in U.S. courts. Typically, this burden only applies in criminal cases. To meet this burden, prosecutors are required to prove each element of a charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If a prosecutor proves some, but not all, of the elements beyond a reasonable doubt, it is not sufficient for a conviction. There must not be a real doubt remaining after the evidence has been considered. If reasonable doubt exists, the burden of proof has not been met by the prosecutor.

Proving a case beyond a reasonable doubt does not mean proving it beyond all doubt. The doubt must be reasonable. This means that the prosecutor does not have to prove the elements of a crime beyond a doubt based on a fanciful, illogical reason. Instead, the prosecutor must prove the elements beyond logical or reasonable doubts. In other words, the jury must be convinced that there is no other logical explanation from the evidence presented other than the defendant committed the offense. If the jury or court that tries the case does not have a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the offense with which he or she has been charged, the defendant will likely be found guilty.

Beyond a reasonable doubt means that the evidence presented by the prosecutor establishes that the defendant charged with the crime committed it to a degree of moral certainty beyond any reasonable alternatives. Some doubt may exist that the defendant is guilty, but reasonable doubt is not possible from the evidence that is presented to secure a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.

The reason why criminal cases require prosecutors to prove their cases beyond a reasonable doubt is that criminal cases can result in imprisonment or death. In civil cases, by contrast, the defendants’ liberty interests are not at issue, which is why civil cases involve lower burdens of proof.

 

What the burden of proof in criminal cases means for you

Requiring prosecutors to prove the elements of the offense with which you have been charged beyond a reasonable doubt is meant to protect you. While the prosecutor will not have to prove the charges against you beyond all doubt, he or she will have to prove the elements beyond doubts that are reasonable. You also will not have the burden of proving that you are innocent. The burden of proof remains with the prosecutor throughout your criminal proceedings.

An experienced criminal defense attorney at DiCindio Law will carefully evaluate the evidence against you and identify any problems with the state’s case. Your attorney may conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding what is alleged to have occurred to help to find defenses that might be available to you. Contact DiCindio Law today to learn more about the burden of proof and the rights that you might have in our case by filling out our contact form or calling us at 610.430.3535.

Police writing report

What Constitutes Burglary and Why Is It Misunderstood?

Burglary is a common property crime in Pennsylvania. Many people confuse burglary with other property crimes that are related. If you are facing burglary charges, you should get help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law. We can review your case and talk to you about the defenses that might be available to you. Here is some information about burglaries, trespasses, and home invasions and how they are related to each other.

What is a burglary in Pennsylvania?

Burglary is defined under 18 Pa. C.S. § 3502. Under this law, a burglary occurs when a person enters a building or occupied structure illegally while having the intent to commit a crime inside. A burglary can be charged whether a person was present or not.

The prosecutor is required to prove the elements of a burglary offense beyond a reasonable doubt if the case is taken to trial. The prosecutor will be required to show that the defendant entered the building and did so while having the intent to commit a different crime inside. If the prosecutor is unable to prove one of the elements of a burglary offense beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecutor might be able to win a conviction for a different crime such as trespass. However, he or she will not be able to secure a conviction for burglary.

Entry into a building

Entry into a building or occupied structure is the first element of a burglary offense. To be convicted, you will have to have entered the building or structure without permission from the property’s owner or operator. Pennsylvania does not include situations in which defendants legally enter buildings but remain inside after they should have left in the burglary law. For example, a person who lawfully entered a department store while the store was opened and hid inside to steal something after the store closes does not meet the unlawful entry element of a burglary offense in Pennsylvania.

Unlawful entry with the intent to commit a crime

The intent to commit a crime following the unlawful entry into a building is the second element of a burglary offense that the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt. This element concerns the state of mind of the defendant at the time that he or she illegally entered the building or structure. To be convicted of a burglary offense, you must have decided to commit a criminal offense and entered the building illegally to do so. You do not have to be successful in committing the intended crime. If you unlawfully enter a building with criminal intent, the two elements of burglary will be met, and you may be convicted.

Penalties for burglary

Burglary is a felony offense. The degree of the offense will vary, depending on the circumstances of the offense. For instance, if another person was inside the building at the time of the burglary, it will be a first-degree felony. If no one was present at the time, and the building was not a residence, it will be a second-degree felony.

Statutory defenses to burglary

The burglary statute contains three defenses, including the following:

  • The building was abandoned
  • The building was open to the public at the time of entry or
  • The defendant was privileged or licensed to enter.

In addition to the statutory defenses, there may be others available to you. Your attorney can help to identify possible defenses in your case.

Home invasion vs. burglary

A home invasion is not separate from a burglary. Instead, it specifically refers to a burglary that happens in a home. A home invasion has the same elements of a burglary but is punished more harshly. If someone was at home during the invasion, it is a first-degree felony.

Possessing burglary tools

Pennsylvania law also makes it illegal to possess burglary tools to use them or to knowingly allow someone else to use them in a burglary. Some examples of burglary tools include crowbars or false keys to illegally enter a room or an object like a safe. Under 18 Pa. C.S. § 4904, a conviction for possession of burglary tools can result in up to three years in prison, a fine of $1,000, or both imprisonment and a fine.

Criminal trespass vs. burglary

Criminal trespass in Pennsylvania is defined in 18 Pa. Con. Stat. § 3503. It occurs when someone unlawfully enters private property without permission or authority to do so. Trespass might occur when someone has been ordered by a court to stay away from the property, when someone enters despite a clearly posted sign, when someone enters through a locked gate, or by using subterfuge to enter.

someone unlawfully enters private property without permission

There are several types of criminal trespass in Pennsylvania that depend on the intent of the defendant and the type of property. A defiant trespass occurs when someone enters a property in spite of actual notice prohibiting trespassing. A simple trespass occurs when someone enters the private property to cause damage or to harass the owner. Agricultural trespass occurs when someone enters the land to bother the owner or cause damage. Finally, agricultural biosecurity trespass involves trespassing into areas of agricultural biosecurity. The penalties for trespass vary and can include jail or prison, a fine, or both.

In some burglary cases, a prosecutor might charge a burglary offense together with criminal trespass. The prosecutor might do this to try to secure a conviction if the prosecutor has trouble proving the intent element of the burglary crime.

Talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer

If you are facing charges of burglary, trespass, possession of burglary tools, or something else, you should get help from an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer at DiCindio Law can evaluate the evidence in your case and discuss the different options that you might have. Schedule a consultation by contacting us online or calling us at 610.430.3535.

What Is Considered an Open Container Violation?

Getting a few drinks while you are out at a restaurant or bar is not illegal in Pennsylvania. However, if you drink too much, you will need to get a different ride home instead of driving yourself. Even when you have not drunk too much while you are out at a restaurant, bar, or other location to prevent you from driving, you should avoid taking an open container of alcohol with you in your car. Transporting an open container of alcohol in a vehicle is illegal in Pennsylvania under most circumstances. If you have been charged under the state’s open container law, the attorney at DiCindio Law is available to help you.

What are open container laws?

Open container laws vary from state to state. Some states do not have open container laws. Others prohibit the driver from having an open container of alcohol but do not prohibit the passengers from having containers of alcohol. Some states have open container laws that give a blanket prohibition against all of the occupants of vehicles.

A violation of an open container law occurs when someone possesses an open container of alcohol in the compartment of a moving vehicle. Open container laws may prohibit transporting open containers of alcohol in all areas of the vehicle or in areas that are easily accessible to the drivers or passengers, including glove compartments and consoles. Open container laws prohibit transporting open containers of all types of alcohol. This means that you might want to avoid taking home the remainder of a bottle of wine that you purchased with your dinner.

Differences in state open container laws

The primary difference in the open container laws of various states is whether the state completely bans transporting open containers of alcohol or instead has a partial ban that applies to the driver but not a passenger. The District of Columbia and 40 states have laws that completely ban possessing and consuming alcohol in motor vehicles for both passengers and drivers.

What is an open container of alcohol?

Open containers include any container that has been unsealed and that contains alcohol. Open containers might include bottles, flasks, cans, or any other type of container that contains alcoholic beverages.

Open containers under federal law

The U.S. Congress passed a federal law in 1998 to encourage states to enact laws banning people from having open containers of alcohol anywhere in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle. This law was named the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. It gives states a monetary incentive to enact laws that meet the federal standard of banning open containers of alcohol anywhere in vehicles.

The open container law in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s open container law can be found at Tit. 75 § 3809. Under this law, drivers and passengers of motor vehicles are prohibited from possessing or consuming an alcoholic beverage or a controlled substance in a vehicle that is located on a highway of the state. If you are found to have violated the state’s open container law, it is a summary offense. A conviction can result in a fine of up to $300, a jail sentence of up to 90 days, or both a fine and jail sentence.

Pennsylvania does have two exceptions to this law. Passengers who are located in motor vehicles that are used, maintained, or designed to transport people in exchange for compensation are excepted. This means that you can lawfully carry open containers of alcohol with you in a taxi, limousine, or bus if the company allows you to do so. The second exception is for people who are in the living areas of a recreational vehicle. However, the driver of the recreational vehicle may not possess or consume alcohol, and someone sitting in the passenger compartment of the recreational vehicle is likewise prohibited from having an open container in that area.

How open container violations are proven

Frequently, open container violations will be charged following a routine traffic stop or at a DUI checkpoint. If an offer sees an open counter inside of a vehicle during a traffic stop, the officer will be allowed to confiscate the container as evidence and charge the driver or passenger with an open container violation. These charges may sometimes be charged in addition to a DUI offense when a driver has an open container and is driving while impaired. If an officer pulls you over for a different reason such as having a burnt-out light and sees an open container in your vehicle when he or she approaches your window, the officer can confiscate the open container of alcohol and charge you with violating the open container law.

Potential defenses to open container charges

There might be a few potential defenses available to you when you have been charged with possessing an open container of alcohol. For example, you may have a defense if the beverage was not alcoholic. You may also have a defense if your vehicle was not being operated on a public highway. A defense might exist if the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to believe that you had committed a traffic offense or crime at the time that he or she pulled your vehicle over. Some open container cases can be more difficult to defend against. When an obvious violation has occurred, you might need the help of an attorney to handle the charges against you.

Do you need to hire an attorney to defend against an open container violation?

If you are convicted of violating the state’s open container law, you could face a fine and a jail sentence. It might be a good idea to talk to an experienced DUI and criminal defense lawyer if you have been charged with an open container offense. DiCindio Law can be reached 24 hours per day. Contact our firm today by calling 610-430-3535 or by submitting your information on our online contact form

What Is Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Law?

A criminal record can negatively impact the lives of people in Pennsylvania. People with criminal records may have difficulty finding jobs and housing and obtaining certain types of loans. People who have criminal records may also have trouble securing professional licenses. Because of these problems, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a clean slate law. This law, which was fully enacted on June 28, 2019, provides a measure of relief to people who have criminal records. The legal team at DiCindio Law can help people to understand how the law might apply to them and other options that they might have for expunging or sealing their records.

What is the clean slate law?

The clean slate law includes two parts that are designed to make it easier for people who have criminal records to limit the public’s access to them. It also increases the types of records that are eligible. Finally, the Clean Slate Act requires that certain criminal records are automatically sealed after a specified period has passed.

What is limited access?

Limited access means that a criminal record is sealed. When a record is sealed, it still exists. However, the public cannot access it, and it is confidential. Sealing your record works to prevent members of the public, including landlords and employers, from gaining access to your criminal record so that you can enjoy a fresh start.

First part of the law: Act 5

The first part of the clean slate law, Act 5, was effective on Dec. 26, 2018. This part allows certain people to petition the court to issue an order of limited access. Eligible people include people who have served their sentences and paid any court-ordered restitution who have not been prosecuted or arrested for any offenses that are punishable for a year or longer in prison for the previous 10 years. The eligible offenses under Act 5 are fairly broad and include qualifying nonviolent misdemeanors and ungraded offenses that are punishable by up to five years in prison.

What is the process under Act 5 for limited access?

To be granted limited access under Act 5, you must go through the following process:

  • File a petition at the court where the conviction occurred.
  • The prosecutor will have 30 days to object. If the prosecutor objects, a hearing will be scheduled.
  • If the prosecutor does not object, or the petitioner prevails at the hearing, the petition will be granted.
  • Notice will be sent to the applicable criminal justice agencies to limit access to the records.

Part two of the law: the Clean Slate Act

The second part of the law went into effect on June 28, 2019. This part creates a way for access to some criminal records to occur without a petition. The Clean Slate Act creates an automated process to identify and automatically seal eligible records after a certain time has passed.

The automatic process works when the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts runs a search of the court records to identify cases that may be eligible. This list is then sent to the State Police. The State Police validate the eligible cases. The courts will then remove the validated cases from the public’s access to seal them.

Types of records that will be automatically sealed

The following types of records will be automatically sealed under the new process:

  • Third-degree misdemeanors and misdemeanors that are punishable by up to two years in prison as long as there aren’t any subsequent convictions punishable by one year or more for the
  • past 10 years when restitution has been paid; and
  • Charges that did not lead to a conviction; and
  • Summary offense convictions after 10 years have passed.

Certain types of criminal records are ineligible, including convictions for attempts, solicitations, or conspiracies to commit the following offenses:

  • Offenses that endanger a person
  • Offenses against the family
  • Offenses related to firearms or dangerous weapons
  • Offenses requiring sex offender registration
  • Offenses for failing to comply with sex offender registration requirements
  • Offenses for cruelty to animals
  • Offenses involving corruption of a minor
  • Felony convictions
  • Two or more offenses punishable by two or more years in prison
  • Four or more convictions that were punishable by one or more years
  • Indecent exposure offenses
  • Escapes in which a weapon was used

Who can access sealed records?

While the general public’s access is limited, certain parties will have access to the sealed criminal records. Employers that are required to consider the criminal records of applicants under federal law can access them. Employers who have obtained a court order to defend against a civil liability claim may also have access to them. State licensing agencies, law enforcement agencies, the Department of Human Services, and the Supreme Court can access the records.

Do you have to disclose sealed criminal records?

Under the law, people who have records sealed are not required to disclose them and can state that they do not have a criminal record. However, applicants to jobs with employers that are required to consider the criminal histories of applicants under federal law must disclose their sealed records to those employers.

FBI background checks and sealed records

Sealed records will still appear on FBI background checks. The FBI maintains copies of criminal records that are sent to it from Pennsylvania. If you apply for a job for an employer that is required to consider these records under federal law, you cannot deny its existence but can explain that it has been sealed under the Clean Slate Act.

Employer immunity

Employers that employ people whose criminal records have been sealed are granted immunity under the law. If a claim that the person has engaged in misconduct that relates to the sealed criminal record, the employer will not be liable.

Get help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer

If you believe that you might be eligible to have your record sealed, you might want to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney at DiCindio Law. We can review your record and explain whether you might be eligible to file a petition for an order of limited access. Schedule a consultation today by filling out our contact form or calling 610.430.3535.

What Happens When You’re Charged with a Crime?

Being charged with a crime in Pennsylvania can be overwhelming and scary. People who have been charged with their first criminal offenses may feel bewildered by the process and not know what to expect. All states, including Pennsylvania, have rules in place that govern how the criminal process works. Getting help from an experienced criminal defense attorney at DiCindio Law can help people to understand the process and the rights that they have. Here is an overview of the criminal case process in Pennsylvania.

1. A crime is alleged to have occurred

When the police believe that you have committed a criminal offense, they will charge you with a crime. If someone reports an alleged crime to the police, they will start investigating what happened. In cases like DUI offenses, the police officer will charge the person at the scene. In complex cases like homicides or fraud, the police may first have to conduct investigations before they determine who should be charged.

2. The person who is charged is booked

If you are arrested, you will be transported by the police to jail to be booked. The officers will record your personal information, take mugshot pictures, and fingerprint you. Pennsylvania also requires people to be medically screened before they are placed in holding cells. While all of this is happening, the arresting officer and the prosecutor will start drafting the complaint.

3. The complaint is filed with the magistrate judge

After the investigation is completed, the police officer will file the complaint with the magistrate judge. The complaint will include your identity, the offenses with which you have been charged, and a summary of what happened. Private citizens are also allowed to file complaints if they have been approved by an assistant district attorney.

4. The magistrate issues an arrest warrant or summons

Once the magistrate judge receives the complaint and reviews it, he or she will issue an arrest warrant or summons. A summons may be issued in less serious cases in which the police officers did not arrest the defendant or when the defendant has posted bond and has been released from custody. The summons gives you notice of when to appear for the preliminary hearing in front of the magistrate judge. An arrest warrant allows you to be held in jail or to be arrested if you are not in custody.

5. Bail is set

If you are in jail and have been charged with a crime, bail has to be set within 12 hours of when the complaint is filed. In some cases, the defendants may be released on personal recognizance without bail. If you are released on your recognizance or post bail, you must show up for the scheduled court appearance. If you fail to do so, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.

6. The arrestee may have a preliminary arraignment

If there has been a warrantless arrest or an arrest warrant has been issued, you will have to appear in front of the magistrate judge for a preliminary arraignment. Typically, this hearing happens within 72 hours of when the arrest occurs. At this hearing, the complaint will be read, and you will be given a copy. You will be advised of your rights, and a preliminary hearing will be scheduled.

7. The preliminary hearing will be held

Within 10 days of the preliminary arraignment, the preliminary hearing will be held. This hearing occurs before the magistrate judge. The prosecutor or police officer will be required to present evidence that demonstrates probable cause that a crime has occurred and that you are the person who committed the offense. If the prosecutor or police officer presents a prima facie case of a crime, your case will move forward. If not, the case will be dismissed.

8. The information is filed

If your case moves forward after the preliminary hearing, the magistrate judge will notify the clerk of courts and the district attorney. The district attorney will then file the information. The information is a charging document that summarizes the case against you. The district attorney can also decline to file the information or change the charges.

9. You will be formally arraigned

If your case proceeds, you will appear for the formal arraignment. At this hearing, you will be given a copy of the information and advised of your rights. After your arraignment, your defense attorney can file pretrial motions. Your attorney might ask for specific types of evidence, file motions to suppress evidence, and others that depend on the circumstances of your case. The district attorney’s office will then respond to the pretrial motions.

10. A pretrial conference will be held.

A pretrial conference will be scheduled after your arraignment. At your pretrial conference, you will appear with your attorney and the prosecutor before the judge. The future of your case will be determined. You can decide to accept a plea offer or go to trial. You can accept a negotiated plea, enter an open plea, enter a no-contest plea, or enter a not guilty plea.

11. A trial may be scheduled

If you enter a not guilty plea, a trial will be scheduled. You will have the right to decide to have a trial before a jury or before the judge. Most defendants ask for jury trials. Trials are normally scheduled within 180 days. In felony cases that do not involve homicides, the trials must be scheduled within six months of when the complaint is filed. In misdemeanor cases, trials are scheduled within 90 days. At your trial, the prosecutor will have the burden of proving that you committed the offenses with which you have been charged beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are found guilty, you could be sentenced immediately or at a later date. If you are found not guilty, your case will be over.

What is manslaughter

12. The sentencing hearing will happen

If you are found guilty, a sentencing hearing will be held. Some crimes in Pennsylvania have mandatory minimum sentences. There are also sentencing guidelines and scores for the gravity of the offense. The judge will normally have discretion and will consider what is contained in the presentence report that has been prepared. The judge may consider your past criminal record and the circumstances of the offense to determine the jail or prison sentence. The judge might also order other penalties such as probation, fines, and others. If there are any victims, you may be ordered to pay restitution to them.

The rules of criminal procedure in Pennsylvania govern how the criminal process works. If you have been charged with a crime, getting help as early as possible in the process is important. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help to guide you through the process and can explain your rights. He or she might secure a better plea offer or fight the charges on your behalf. Contact DiCindio Law today to schedule a consultation to learn more about your case and how we might be able to help

What kinds of crimes can be expunged?

Having a criminal conviction on your record can negatively impact your life long after you have discharged your sentence. Even having an arrest without a conviction on your record can cause problems. Thankfully, many types of less serious criminal convictions can be expunged in Pennsylvania. If you have a criminal record, the legal team at DiCindio Law can help you to understand whether the expungement of your record might be an option.

What does expungement or sealing of your record mean?

Under Pennsylvania law, expungement or the sealing of a criminal record can occur when a judge issues an order limiting access to your record. Record sealing and expungement are two separate processes. However, if your record is expunged or sealed, most prospective employers that conduct background checks will be unable to access the information that has been expunged or sealed. In some cases, you may also be legally entitled to deny that you have been convicted or arrested.

An expungement occurs when a court orders the expungement of a person’s criminal record. This process is authorized under Pa. C.S.A. § 9122. When this type of order is issued, the entry of conviction will be physically removed from the criminal record. However, the Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository and the prosecuting attorney will retain copies. The confidentiality of the expunged records will be protected, and the records will only be able to be viewed by law enforcement agencies and the courts on their request. For others, it will be like the incident never occurred.

When a record is sealed under a judge’s order of limited access, the record will not be physically destroyed. Sealed criminal records under limited access do not allow the general public, including private employers and landlords, to access them. Under Pa. C.S.A. § 9122.1, the only parties that can view sealed records under an order of limited access include law enforcement agencies, child protective services, and professional licensing boards.

Are certain convictions automatically expunged after a specific time?

There are not any convictions that are automatically expunged after a specific time has elapsed. Some people believe this occurs because they confuse their criminal and driving records. Unlike traffic offenses on your driving record, criminal convictions do not fall off of your criminal record. While traffic violations may no longer be considered by an insurance company after a specific period, they do not disappear. With criminal convictions, they will not fall off of your record. The only way for you to have them removed is to file a petition for an expungement.

Having a conviction or an arrest on your criminal record can cause problems when you are searching for a job or a new place to live. Criminal records can also prevent you from obtaining certain professional licenses. Expungement allows you to have certain convictions or arrests removed from your record, and record sealing under an order for limited access limits the parties that can access your records. After you have your record sealed or expunged, the general public will no longer be able to access the information.

Who can have their criminal and arrest records expunged or sealed in Pennsylvania?

While an expungement or an order for limited access can help you by cleaning up your record, not all convictions are eligible for expungement or sealing. You need to determine whether your conviction is eligible for expungement or sealing before you move forward.

What records are eligible for expungement?

Under Pennsylvania law, the following records might be eligible for expungement:

  • Records of convictions for summary offenses
  • Certain arrest records
  • Cases that were resolved through an ARD program
  • Underage consumption, purchase, or possession of alcohol
  • Convictions for people who are 70 or older

Summary offenses are low-level offenses that carry the potential for a fine and up to 90 days of jail. If you have a conviction for a summary offense on your record, you may be eligible to have your record expunged. To qualify, you must not have been prosecuted or arrested for another crime for at least five years from the date of your conviction for the summary offense.

Some types of non-traffic summary offenses in Pennsylvania include the following:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Shoplifting or retail theft
  • Public intoxication
  • Harassment
  • False identification

Some arrest records may also be eligible for expungement. If you were arrested, and no disposition of your case is recorded within 18 months, your arrest record may be eligible for expungement. You also might be eligible to expunge your arrest record if the charges were dismissed without a conviction.

Certain types of cases that are resolved through an accelerated rehabilitative disposition or ARD program in Pennsylvania may be eligible for expungement. If you successfully completed an ARD program, you can petition the court to expunge your record. However, if you completed an ARD program for a sex offense that was committed against a minor, you are not eligible to have it expunged.

If you were convicted of the underage consumption, purchase, or possession of alcohol, you may be eligible to have your record expunged. If you were younger than 21 but at least 18 and have completed all of the terms of your sentence, you are eligible to have your record expunged as long as you are now age 21 or older.

If you are 70 or older, you might also qualify for an expungement of your criminal record. To qualify, you must not have been arrested or prosecuted for another crime for at least 10 years after you were released from supervision or incarceration.

Which records are eligible to be sealed under an order for limited access?

You might be able to obtain an order of limited access if you were convicted of certain misdemeanors or ungraded offenses that carry a maximum potential penalty of two years of imprisonment or less. This includes convictions for second- and third-degree misdemeanors. To be eligible to have these types of convictions sealed, you cannot apply until 10 years have passed since you successfully completed all of the terms and conditions of your sentence. You also must not have been prosecuted or arrested for another crime during the waiting period.

Certain types of criminal records cannot ever be sealed under an order for limited access. Some examples include criminal convictions for impersonating public officials, witness or victim intimidation, and offenses that require you to register as a sex offender.

How do you get an expungement or a record sealing order for limited access?

If your criminal or arrest record is eligible for sealing or expungement, you must complete a petition to expunge your record or a petition for an order of limited access. This petition must be filed in the court that handled your case. When you complete the petition, you will be required to include personal information about you and information about each record that you want the court to order expunged or sealed. If you need copies of the records that are related to your case, contact the court or the arresting agency to request them.

You can find petition forms on the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania’s website. There are multiple forms on the website, so you will need to make certain to select the one that applies to your case.

Is it easier to obtain an expungement or record sealing of certain convictions than others?

Low-level offenses are much easier to expunge or seal because they are not as stigmatized as higher-level offenses. Courts are prohibited from expunging the records of people who have completed an ARD program for the following types of offenses when the victim was under the age of 18:

  • Rape under Pa. C.S.A. § 3121
  • Statutory sexual assault under Pa. C.S.A. § 3122.1
  • Involuntary deviate sexual intercourse under Pa. C.S.A. § 3123
  • Sexual assault under Pa. C.S.A. § 3124.1
  • Aggravated indecent assault under Pa. C.S.A. § 3125
  • Indecent exposure under Pa. C.S.A. § 3126
  • Prostitution and related offenses under Pa. C.S.A. § 5902(b)
  • Obscene materials and performances under Pa. C.S.A. § 5903

Offenses that are not eligible to be sealed under a record of limited access include the following:

  • Offenses that involve danger to a victim carrying more than two years of imprisonment
  • Offenses against the family that carry more than two years of imprisonment
  • Offenses related to firearms and other dangerous weapons that carry more than two years of imprisonment
  • Tiered sexual offenses as found in 42 Pa.C.S. § 9799.14
  • Sexual offenses that require sex offender registration under 42 Pa.C.S. § 9799.55
  • Corruption of a minor under Pa. C.S.A. § 6301(a)(1)
  • Murder offenses
  • First-degree felony offenses
  • Offenses that carry potential sentences of 20 years or more
  • Certain convictions in the past 20 years for offenses carrying seven or more years
  • Four or more offenses that are punishable by two or more years in prison
  • People who have been convicted of two or more offenses carrying two or more years in prison within the last 15 years
  • Indecent exposure conviction within the past 15 years
  • Sexual intercourse with an animal conviction within the past 15 years
  • Failing to comply with registration requirements within the last 15 years
  • Offenses within the past 15 years of having implements of escape or weapons
  • Offense within the past 15 years for abuse of a corpse
  • Offense for paramilitary training within the past 15 years

How does a criminal record impact an expungement or record-sealing petition?

If your offense of conviction occurred within the applicable waiting period, you cannot apply for a petition to have it expunged. If you have been arrested or prosecuted for other crimes during the waiting period, you also are ineligible to file a petition for expungement or record sealing. If you have charges currently pending against you, you cannot file a petition to expunge or seal your record. Finally, if you were convicted of one of the offenses for which expungement or record sealing is not available, you cannot file a petition for expungement. An attorney can help you to determine whether you are eligible to file a petition for expungement or for your record to be sealed under an order of limited access.

Common misconceptions about the expungement process in Pennsylvania

Some people believe that after an expungement order is issued, their gun rights will be automatically restored. Others believe that expunged records cannot be used against them when they have subsequent criminal charges. Others believe that the expungement process is fast and that once they hire a lawyer, they will have their records expunged within a few days. Law enforcement agencies and the courts can see expunged records, and they can take them into account when you are prosecuted and convicted for a new crime. The expungement process also is not instantaneous. Instead, it must go through the court process. How fast the court process might take will depend on the court’s docket and scheduling availability.

Get help from DiCindio Law

The expungement and record-sealing laws in Pennsylvania are complicated. If you are unsure whether your record is eligible for expungement or record sealing under an order for limited access, you might want to talk to an experienced attorney at DiCindio Law. We can help you to understand the options that you might have. If you appear to be eligible to have your record expunged or sealed, we can help you to draft and file the petition and guide you through the process. Schedule a confidential consultation today by calling 610.430.3535 or by filling out our online contact form.

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.