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!

What Is a Motion to Dismiss?

In a personal injury case, either party may file a motion asking the court to dismiss the case. In general, the party that most often files a motion to dismiss is the defendant to the lawsuit. Commonly, defendants will file motions to dismiss in the early stages of a case. Plaintiffs may file a motion to dismiss when they have reached a settlement, when there is a procedural defect, or when they want to voluntarily withdraw their claims. If you have filed a personal injury claim, the defendant may file a motion to dismiss called a motion for summary judgment. At DiCindio Law, we can explain how these types of motions are handled so that you can understand what to expect.

Applicable rules of procedure

Under USCS Fed Rules Civ. Proc. R. 41, a plaintiff in a federal case is allowed to voluntarily dismiss his or her own case. To do this, a plaintiff can file a notice of dismissal with the court before the defendant has filed his or her response. Alternatively, a plaintiff can file a stipulation of the dismissal that is signed by all of the parties that have appeared in the case. Unless it is included in the stipulation, the dismissal will be without prejudice, which means that the plaintiff could refile the claim at a later date.

A defendant may raise preliminary objections to a complaint by filing a motion to dismiss in which one of the defenses that are found in USCS Fed Rules Civ. Proc. R. 12(b) applies. These defenses include the following:

  • No personal jurisdiction
  • No subject-matter jurisdiction
  • Insufficient service of process
  • Insufficient process
  • Improper venue
  • The plaintiff failed to state a claim for which relief can be granted
  • The plaintiff failed to join an indispensable party

It is common for defendants to file motions to dismiss for the plaintiff’s failure to state a claim. When this type of motion to dismiss is filed, the defendant claims that even if everything that the plaintiff has alleged is true, it does not amount to something that supports the legal grounds for a claim for which relief can be granted.

In personal injury cases that are filed in the Court of Common Pleas, defendants can file motions to dismiss based on preliminary objections under 231 Pa. Code R. 1028. Under this rule, the preliminary objections that can be raised are limited to the following defenses:

  • Lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter or over the person
  • Improper venue
  • Improper service
  • Failure of the pleading to conform to the law or the inclusion of impertinent or scandalous material
  • Insufficient specificity
  • Demurrer
  • Nonjoinder of an essential party or a lack of capacity to sue
  • Agreement for an alternative dispute resolution procedure or the pendency of a prior action

Similar to federal court, a plaintiff can also file a motion to dismiss a case at any time.

When a motion to dismiss is filed

Defendants normally file motions to dismiss based on the preliminary objections at the start of a lawsuit. These are commonly filed as a demurrer, which is a motion to dismiss based on the legal insufficiency of a claim. The motion may focus on the allegations that are contained in the complaint together with any exhibits that have been submitted in support of it.

A party may file a motion to dismiss when he or she believes the complaint is not legally valid. One famous example of this occurred when Bill Cosby’s defense lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him before his retrial because they believed that the criminal conduct occurred outside of the limitations period. The judge ruled against the motion because the date of the assault was a matter to be decided at the trial and not at the time of the motion.

Understanding the grounds for filing a motion to dismiss

The grounds for a motion to dismiss are claims of legal deficiencies. Here is a brief description of each of the previously listed grounds.

A motion to dismiss for insufficient or improper service of process claims that the complaint and summons were not properly served. A motion to dismiss based on the expiration of the statute of limitations is filed when a complaint is filed outside of the limitations period. A motion to dismiss based on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be filed when a court does not have the jurisdiction to hear a particular type of case. A similar motion to dismiss for a lack of personal jurisdiction may be filed when the court does not have personal or in personam jurisdiction over the defendant. For a Pennsylvania court to have personal jurisdiction over a party, the party must be a resident of the jurisdiction or must have a sufficient number of contacts with it.

Even in cases in which a court may have personal jurisdiction, it might not be the proper venue. This can form the basis for a motion to dismiss based on an improper venue. There are a number of different requirements that a complaint must follow when it is filed. The court may grant a motion to dismiss for the plaintiff’s failure to state a claim when the complaint does not allege all of the required elements of a legal claim or if it does not allege an injury that is measurable.

Motion for summary judgment

Another type of motion that may be filed is called a motion for summary judgment. This type of motion may be filed by any party, but it is commonly filed by defendants. Summary judgment motions are filed after the pleadings are closed. Under 231 Pa. Code R. 1035.2, this motion may be filed when there is no triable issue of material fact for a specific element. It might also be filed after discovery as been completed when the plaintiff has failed to produce any evidence of an essential fact.

How a motion to dismiss is filed

Defendants normally file motions to dismiss based on preliminary objections after the complaint has been filed but before they have responded to it with their answers. If the court denies a motion to dismiss based on preliminary objections, the defendant will still be required to file an answer within a specific time period. If the reasons for the dismissal are not included in the first filing, they will be considered to be waived.

Like other pleadings and motions, a motion to dismiss has to be filed with the court, and the other party must be properly served. If you are a plaintiff and you receive a motion to dismiss based on preliminary objections, you will be given a chance to respond to it. The court will review the competing motions and will make a ruling at a hearing.

How courts rule on motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment

In general, judges view the facts and allegations as true and view them in a light that is most favorable to the plaintiffs. This makes it hard for defendants to win motions to dismiss or summary judgment motions. If a court rules in favor of the defendant on a motion to dismiss, the case may be dismissed with or without prejudice. If the court dismisses it with prejudice, the plaintiff will not be allowed to refile the case.

If the court grants a defendant’s motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff can file an appeal of the decision. If the Court of Appeals reverses the ruling, the case will be returned to the Court of Common Pleas for further proceedings.

The court is allowed to issue a sua sponte dismissal on its own without either party asking it to do so. The court can dismiss a case on its own when there are grounds to dismiss the case. For example, if the parties did not raise an objection to the venue at the time the case was filed, the court can still dismiss it if the venue is improper.

Why getting help from an experienced personal injury attorney is important

In Pennsylvania, you are allowed to file a personal injury lawsuit on your own without the help of an attorney. However, it is a better idea for you to seek help from an experienced lawyer instead of filing a lawsuit on your own. People who file lawsuits on their own are called pro se plaintiffs. Even if you do not have a legal background, you will be expected to know and to follow the same procedural rules as attorneys do. You will also need to understand the different types of pleadings, the various filing deadlines, and how to properly state a legal claim. If you file a legally insufficient complaint, you run the risk of the case being dismissed.

An attorney can review what happened in your case and explain whether or not you have a winnable claim. If legal grounds do not exist, an attorney will explain that to you. If an attorney agrees to accept representation, he or she can draft the complaint for you in a manner that complies with the legal requirements and to make certain that it is properly served on the defendant. A lawyer may be better able to identify all of the potential defendants who should be named in the case as well as all of the parties that are indispensable.

Getting help from an experienced personal injury litigator can help you to avoid making potentially costly errors. It can also help you to make certain that you meet all of the required deadlines and follow the rules. An attorney can also help to preserve your rights by making timely objections so that the record will be preserved if you need to file an appeal at a later date.

Contact the DiCindio Law office for help

If you have been injured because of the actions or omissions of another person or entity. you may have legal rights to recover compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against those who are responsible. However, it is important for you to make certain that your pleadings are drafted correctly and that they present valid legal grounds to state a claim for which relief can be granted under the law. Michael DiCindio is an experienced litigator, former prosecutor, personal injury lawyer, and criminal defense attorney who has a deep understanding of the law and the rules of procedure. To learn more about your potential claim, contact DiCindio Law today by calling us at 610.430.3535 to schedule a free consultation.

What Is The Difference Between Acquittal and Dismissal?

Criminal charges can be resolved in a defendant’s favor in a few different ways. Two common ways that defendants can receive favorable outcomes are by being acquitted or by having the charges dismissed. While these both involve the charges ending, they may have different results. If you are facing criminal charges in West Chester, DiCindio Law can explain what you might expect to happen in your case and work to secure the best outcome for you.

Understanding acquittals

Acquittals are when a defendant who has been accused of a crime is found not guilty at a trial. A defendant may be acquitted by a judge following a bench trial or by a jury following a jury trial. To secure a conviction of a defendant, the prosecutor is required to prove every element of the crime to the judge or jury beyond a reasonable doubt. A person is acquitted when the prosecution is unable to meet its burden of proof for one or more of the required elements of the crime.

It is common for prosecutors to charge criminal defendants with several offenses. If you have been charged with multiple offenses and receive a not guilty verdict for each of them, you will have been fully acquitted. If you receive a guilty verdict for one offense and a not guilty verdict for another, you will have received a partial acquittal.

Can you be charged again for the same offense after an acquittal?

The Fifth Amendment’s double jeopardy clause prohibits the state from retrying you twice for a crime when you have been acquitted. This means that the same court will not be able to try you again for that offense after you have won at a trial.

For example, if you were charged with possession of heroin on a specific date and the jury finds you not guilty of the offense, the prosecutor will not be able to file new charges for possession of heroin on that date again. However, if you are caught with possessing heroin on a different date, the prosecutor could file new charges for the new offense.

When does the double jeopardy clause not apply?

If you are charged for the same offense in both federal and state court, the double jeopardy clause will not apply. This is because these two courts are considered to be separate sovereigns. If you are acquitted in state court of possessing heroin, you can still be tried in federal court for the same offense if the heroin was brought into the state in interstate commerce.

Similarly, if you are convicted in state court for possessing heroin on a specific date, nothing prevents you from being charged and convicted for the same offense in federal court. Some states do not allow defendants who were charged in federal court from later also being charged in state court. However, the U.S. Constitution says nothing about dual prosecutions of defendants in both state and federal courts.

You can also face a civil lawsuit for the same offense even if you have been acquitted of the associated criminal offense. A good example of this is O.J. Simpson. While he was found not guilty of killing Ronald Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson in his criminal case, he later was found liable for killing them in civil wrongful death lawsuits that their families filed against him.

Dismissal vs. acquittal

In some cases, criminal charges will be dismissed by the court before the defendants’ guilt is adjudicated. A judge might dismiss a case for multiple reasons, including the following:

  • Lack of probable cause or insufficient evidence for the case to go to trial
  • Evidence was obtained in an unconstitutional manner such as a warrantless search or seizure or by failing to read the defendant his or her Miranda rights or to honor them during a custodial interrogation
  • When the prosecutor engages in egregious misconduct such as hiding exculpatory evidence

Under the Constitution, you have rights against illegal searches, stops, and seizures. The prosecutor is also required to share any exculpatory evidence that is uncovered during the prosecutor’s investigation. If a court finds that the prosecutor deliberately hid evidence, the charges may be dismissed. Similarly, the charges may be dismissed when the court finds that the manner in which the police officers conducted their investigation was unconstitutional.

What happens after a dismissal?

When criminal charges are dismissed, the judge or jury has not had the opportunity to determine whether you are not guilty or guilty by hearing the prosecutor’s case or your defense. Since the defendant’s guilt or innocence has not been determined, the charges can be re-filed at a later date. For example, it is still possible for a prosecutor to charge you again if your charges were dismissed for insufficient evidence. The prosecutor might investigate the case more thoroughly and find additional evidence to use against you. If that occurs within the statute of limitations, the case can be refiled against you.

Get help from a criminal defense attorney

If you are facing criminal charges, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will evaluate the evidence and work to identify all of the possible defenses that he or she might raise for you. At DiCindio Law, we will explore whether there might be grounds for your case to be dismissed. We can also build a strong defense case for trial or work to secure a favorable plea agreement. Contact our law firm today to schedule an appointment by calling us at 610-430-3535.

Why Are Criminal Charges Dropped or Dismissed?

Some people who are charged with crimes do not ever enter a plea or go to trial. Instead, the charges against them are dismissed by the judge or the prosecutor. One of the first things that a criminal defense lawyer will do is to evaluate whether there might be grounds for a case to be dismissed. Some of these grounds include the following:

  • Improper charging document or criminal complaint
  • No probable cause for the arrest
  • An unconstitutional stop or search
  • Insufficient evidence that a crime was committed by the defendant
  • Unavailability of an indispensable witness for the prosecution
  • Evidence needed to prove that the defendant committed a crime has been lost

In some instances, cases will be dismissed following a loss at trial when a defendant wins on appeal. In others, the charges are dismissed long before a trial. At DiCindio Law, we evaluate clients’ criminal cases carefully to determine whether there might be grounds for their charges to be dismissed.

Lack of probable cause for an arrest

Police officers must have probable cause that people have committed crimes before the officers can arrest them. Police officers are not allowed to arrest people because they have inarticulable hunches that they may have committed crimes. The belief that an officer has must be reasonable and based on facts. For example, if an officer sees a person pulling a gun from his or her waistband, he or she would likely have probable cause for an arrest. By contrast, if an officer sees someone who the officer thinks looks shifty but who is not doing anything that amounts to a crime, he or she would not have probable cause to arrest that person. If the officer still arrested the shifty person and subsequently charged him or her with a crime, the charges would likely be dismissed because of the lack of probable cause. However, if the prosecutor later found other evidence that shows that the person committed the crime, the charges could be re-filed.

Improper charging document

Officers must sign charging documents under oath. State laws dictate the types of information that must be contained in a charging document. If a complaint does not comply with the legal requirements because of a substantial omission or error, the prosecutor is not allowed to fix it to give to the court. If an officer writes an improper charging document and subsequently becomes unavailable, the charges against the defendant may have to be dismissed.

Unconstitutional stop or search

Police officers are only allowed to stop vehicles or people when they have reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime or traffic violation is being committed. For example, an officer can stop a car if a person is speeding but cannot just randomly stop a car because of a person’s race. If an officer stops a vehicle or a person when the officer does not have a reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed, the stop is unconstitutional.

Police officers are only allowed to search houses, cars, and people when they have search warrants unless an exception applies. Police can search people without search warrants when the searches are incident to their arrests. They can also search homes in exigent circumstances such as when they hear screams and violent sounds coming from inside. Officers can also search people when they have reasonable beliefs that the people are carrying deadly weapons. Finally, police can search homes, cars, or people when they are given consent to do so.

If an officer conducts a warrantless search when none of the exceptions apply, any evidence that the officer uncovers during the search cannot be used against the person who is charged. If the court rules that a search or stop was illegal and that the evidence is inadmissible, the defense attorney can ask the court to dismiss the case because the prosecution does not have evidence to prove that the defendant committed the crime.

Lack of evidence

To prove a case against a defendant, the prosecutor must be able to present sufficient evidence to the judge or a grand jury to establish probable cause that the defendant committed a crime. There must be enough evidence to demonstrate a factual and objective basis for believing that a crime was committed by the defendant. If the judge or a grand jury fail to find probable cause, the charges will be dismissed. Prosecutors may also dismiss cases in which they have very limited evidence on their own.

Unavailable witnesses and lost evidence

Charges may be dismissed when key witnesses are unavailable to testify or when some important physical evidence is lost. This may happen because the prosecutor may be unable to prove that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If a witness asserts his or her Fifth Amendment rights because testifying might incriminate him or her or if a witness dies or disappears, the prosecutor might not have enough evidence to prove the charges against the defendant.

In some cases, the identification of the defendant as the person who committed the criminal offense is key to the case. When the key witness is unable to identify the defendant, the prosecutor may not have enough remaining evidence to secure a conviction. When a witness says that he or she is uncertain that the defendant is the person who committed the crime, the prosecutor might decide to dismiss the charges.

Defense attorneys sometimes challenge the method the police used to obtain a witness’s identification of a defendant. For example, if the police used a photo lineup with six people, and the defendant was the only person depicted who was the race of the person who committed the crime, the judge may find that the lineup was improper and exclude the identification testimony.

Prosecutorial discretion

Prosecutors occasionally agree to dismiss criminal charges when extenuating circumstances exist. For example, a prosecutor might dismiss minor charges when questions exist about the facts of what occurred. The charges can be dismissed without prejudice, which would allow the prosecutors to refile the charges later within a specific period if new evidence of the defendant’s guilt is discovered.

In rare cases, a prosecutor might agree to dismiss the charges against a defendant when the victim asks him or her to do so. However, victims do not have the power to determine whether a case should move forward. The state is responsible for pressing charges. However, a prosecutor does have the discretion to determine what a just outcome would be. For example, if a sexual assault victim would undergo severe emotional harm by testifying about what happened to him or her and asks the prosecutor to dismiss the charges against the person who was responsible for the assault, the prosecutor might agree to do so.

Dismissals after successful appeals

When a person loses his or her criminal case at trial, he or she can appeal the verdict. If the appellate court finds that prejudicial error happened in the trial, the verdict may be vacated and the case may then be sent back to the lower court for a new trial. If the prosecutor believes that he or she will not succeed in a new trial, he or she may dismiss the case rather than trying it again.

Appeals court finds insufficient evidence to support the verdict

In some cases, the appellate court will reverse a jury verdict because the jury did not have sufficient evidence to support the finding of guilt. In most cases, the defense attorney will file a motion asking the judge to enter a judgment of acquittal that the judge denies. The defense attorney can make this argument again on appeal and may be successful. When that occurs, the appellate court will direct the trial court to enter a judgment of acquittal.

Lack of jurisdiction

Courts must have jurisdiction to hear the cases that are before them. If a court learns that it does not have jurisdiction to hear a particular case, it will dismiss it.

Contact DiCindio Law

If you have been charged with a crime, getting help from an experienced criminal defense attorney is important. A knowledgeable lawyer from DiCindio Law can review your case and determine whether there might be grounds for the charges to be dismissed. Contact us today to schedule a consultation by calling 610-430-3535.

What do I do when I am charged with a DUI

One of the first things that people call and ask is, “What do I do when I am charged  with a DUI”

The crime of Driving Under the Influence or “DUI” is likely the most commonly charged crime in Pennsylvania. With law enforcement targeting DUI offenders – people from all walks of life are being arrested and prosecuted.

Anyone who is arrested and charged with a DUI is going to have concerns about what they will be facing moving forward. Will I go to jail? How much is this going to cost? Will my employer find out? How long will I lose my license for? All of these are normal concerns of a first offender or of someone who has prior driving under the influence convictions or arrest. Further, not only are these normal . . . they are questions that are important for you to have answers to. Some things you can do.

1. Write down as much as you can about what you remember from the evening of the arrest. When determining what the best course of action or litigation strategy is for your case every detail may matter and may impact your case or the way in which your criminal defense lawyer proceeds. Nothing is insignificant.

2. Contact and hire an attorney. DUI cases may be common but they still impact your livelihood, reputation, finances and liberty. Now is the time to find an attorney who you trust to protect your interests and defend you in your case. There are no guarantees in criminal law.  Now is the time that you need to have your questions answered and understand what the different potential outcomes may be. While a strategy should be put in place quickly it is important to still understand that we as criminal defense lawyers do not always have all the information needed immeidately in order to properly decide how is best to proceed this early on.

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West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

3. Ask questions. There is no question that you have that shouldn’t be asked. This is a significant event for you and the outcome very well may impact you in some manner for the remainder of your life. You do not want to look back in a few years and question what you did and/or why you didn’t do something with your case. No attorney worth hiring will make you uncomfortable or be bothered by your questions. Some things to think about:

a. Cost
b. Punishment
c. Trial issues
d. Time Frames/Length of the case
e. Pre-Trial Motions
f. Diversionary Courts/First Offender Programs and options
g. Things you can begin to do to help your case

These are just a few of the many things that you should be thinking about and doing when you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a DUI. If you have any questions or are facing DUI charges call Mike DiCindio directly today.

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

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester

When Someone is Charged with Possession of Child Pornography

Criminal Defense Chester County

West Chester Child Pornography Attorney

A large amount of law enforcement resources and efforts are spent on investigating and prosecuting those who make, possess or view child pornography.  Child pornography cases are intensely involved criminal matters where not only are the criminal penalties severe but the damage to personal reputation and career are potentially irreversible – even when one is charged unjustly.  Beyond the severe criminal punishment lies the potential of long-term or life registration as a sex offender.  Further, in many cases there is a potential that the federal government will adopt the case and prosecute it in Federal Court – leading to potentially even more serious punishment.

When someone is charged with a child pornography crime there are many investigative avenues that need to be explored.  Most of the time these charges involve computers / the internet – meaning an expert in computer forensics may provide a potential defense.  Mental health and the potential of reoffending is also a concern in many of these cases meaning that mental health professionals may be employed to help mitigate cases / sentences.  It is also important to understand that the age of the children depicted in the child pornography will potentially enhance the punishment one is facing which may become an issue that will be litigated.

Child pornography cases are involved and emotional.  Despite the fear one may feel after being charged it is crucial to hire an attorney experienced in these matters and one who is able to evaluate all potential options to provide the best defense strategy before moving forward.


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

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester

Rule 600 in Pennsylvania

The wheels of justice turn slowly. An old saying that we who practice in the criminal defense field think about weekly – if not daily. Even though the slow crawl that criminal cases sometimes take is to be expected at times, it is important to understand that as an individual charged with a crime in the state of Pennsylvania, you have a right to a prompt trial and resolution to your case.

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West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

First, it must be noted that the prompt trial rule or “Rule 600” is different than the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the amount of time that the government has to CHARGE an individual with a crime or forever be barred from doing so. Rule 600 and the prompt trial requirements instead deal with the amount of time the government has to prosecute a person once they have been charged.

There are two main portions of Rule 600. First, that the government has 365 days to commence trial once charges have been brought. If they do not do that, a motion must be filed by the defense and the charges will be dismissed with prejudice if a violation of this time limit has been found by the Court. Second, no person may be held in custody on bail for longer than 180 from the commencement of the prosecution. If this occurs the defense must file a motion and if a violation is found by the Court the defendant will be placed on nominal bail.

Obviously, this is subject to limitations and the unique circumstances of each case dictate the strength of a Rule 600 motion. For example, one of the main limitations is that time extensions requested by the defense or not attributable to the prosecution are not counted in the 365 or 180 day time period – among other things.

If you or a loved one believe that you may have a prompt trial issue or if you have been charged with a criminal offense at all, contact Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. at DiCindio Law, LLC for all of your criminal needs and begin preparing your defense today.

 

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

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

Possessing Instruments of Crimes

When an object or weapon is involved in the commission of a criminal offense, a common charge that will be levied against an individual is that of “Possessing Instruments of Crimes.” This charge is found in title 18 section 907 of the Pennsylvania Criminal Code.

What must be evaluated in these cases is whether or not the person intended to employ any instrument of crime in a criminal manner. Importantly, there need not be what is generally termed as a “weapon” in order to be found guilty of this offense. Unlike what most may generally think – a knife or a gun, an instrument of crime is defined as anything that fits with in the following definitions. First, anything specifically made or specifically adapted for criminal use. Second, anything used for criminal purposes and possessed by the actor under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful uses that it may have.  Finally, anything commonly used for criminal purposes and possessed by the actor under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful uses it may have.

An example of a situation where a normal everyday object may be viewed as an instrument of crime would be when a crowbar is used to break into somebody’s home or vehicle. That is not the lawful and intended purpose of a crowbar therefore it would fit under the definition of this crime.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or are the subject of a case where Possession of an Instrument of Crime is charged contact Mike DiCindio, Esq. and DiCindio Law, LLC directly today.

 

  • 907.  Possessing instruments of crime.

(a)  Criminal instruments generally.–A person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he possesses any instrument of crime with intent to employ it criminally.

(b)  Possession of weapon.–A person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he possesses a firearm or other weapon concealed upon his person with intent to employ it criminally.

(c)  Unlawful body armor.–A person commits a felony of the third degree if in the course of the commission of a felony or in the attempt to commit a felony he uses or wears body armor or has in his control, custody or possession any body armor.

(d)  Definitions.–As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:

“Body armor.”  Any protective covering for the body, or parts thereof, made of any polyaramid fiber or any resin-treated glass fiber cloth or any material or combination of materials made or designed to prevent, resist, deflect or deter the penetration thereof by ammunition, knife, cutting or piercing instrument or any other weapon.

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West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

“Instrument of crime.”  Any of the following:

(1)  Anything specially made or specially adapted for criminal use.

(2)  Anything used for criminal purposes and possessed by the actor under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful uses it may have.

“Weapon.”  Anything readily capable of lethal use and possessed under circumstances not manifestly appropriate for lawful uses which it may have. The term includes a firearm which is not loaded or lacks a clip or other component to render it immediately operable, and components which can readily be assembled into a weapon.


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

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

Conspiracy

Under Pennsylvania law and throughout Pennsylvania criminal trial Courts one crime that is often seen in cases involving multiple defendants is the crime of conspiracy. Conspiracy is a separate and distinct crime and it is covered by its own statute in the criminal code. Under section 903 of the Pennsylvania Criminal Code criminal conspiracy is defined as an agreement with another that one or more of them will engage in conduct which constitutes a crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit a crime.  Alternatively, a conspiracy can be found when one agrees to aid another in the planning or the commission of such a crime and attempt or solicitation to commit a crime.

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West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

Conspiracy cases are often very complicated factually

In conspiracy cases it is not always clear when the conspiracy ends and therefore what is “in furtherance of the conspiracy.”  This becomes a key question for admission of certain types of evidence.  Further, it is not always clear whether or not someone has left (renunciation) the conspiracy and no longer liable.   These and others are unique legal issues that come about in conspiracy cases.  Co-conspirator statements, testimony against other co-conspirators and many more issues may be litigated and or involved in the defense of a criminal conspiracy charge.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal offense or needs representation on a conspiracy charge do not hesitate to contact Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. and DiCindio Law, LLC directly today.

  • § 903.  Criminal conspiracy.

(a)  Definition of conspiracy.–A person is guilty of conspiracy with another person or persons to commit a crime if with the intent of promoting or facilitating its commission he:

(1)  agrees with such other person or persons that they or one or more of them will engage in conduct which constitutes such crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime; or

(2)  agrees to aid such other person or persons in the planning or commission of such crime or of an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime.

(b)  Scope of conspiratorial relationship.–If a person guilty of conspiracy, as defined by subsection (a) of this section, knows that a person with whom he conspires to commit a crime has conspired with another person or persons to commit the same crime, he is guilty of conspiring with such other person or persons, to commit such crime whether or not he knows their identity.


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

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