What Is Unlawful Contact with a Minor?

Technological advances over the past couple of decades have allowed federal and Pennsylvania authorities to expand the techniques that they can use to catch people who participate in sex crimes on the internet involving children. As these sting operations are depicted on television shows such as “To Catch a Predator,” it is clear to see that the police investigate potential offenses such as unlawful contact with a minor. If you are charged and convicted of this offense, you will face harsh penalties whether you were ensnared by a police sting operation or were caught by a parent. This conviction can expose you to incarceration, fines, sex offender registration requirements, and public stigma. You may lose your coworkers, neighbors, family, and friends and could also lose your job and your marriage. If you have been charged with unlawful contact with a minor in West Chester, contact DiCindio Law to schedule a free consultation so you can learn more about your rights.

What is unlawful contact with a minor in Pennsylvania?

Unlawful contact with a minor is defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6318. Under this statute, unlawful contact with a minor occurs when a person who intentionally contacts a minor or a purported minor who is an undercover police officer to try to engage in the following types of sexual acts:

  • Any sex offense found in Chapter 31 of title 18
  • Prostitution
  • Open lewdness
  • Sexual exploitation of children
  • Sexual abuse of children
  • Sexual or obscene materials and performances

You can be charged with sexual contact with a minor even if you never meet the minor or purported minor in person. For example, if you ask for the minor to send an explicit picture and suggest that you meet to engage in a specific sexual act, you can be charged even if you do not meet. It also does not matter if the person with whom you are communicating is a police officer instead of a minor.

Online solicitation of minors

Online solicitation of minors occurs when adults communicate with minors online in chat rooms, by text messages, or by email for the purpose of meeting them for sex. Police agencies conduct sting operations to try to catch adults who attempt to entice teens online for sex. In these types of operations, an undercover police officer will pose as a minor online and try to engage adults in conversation. The conversations may quickly become suggestive and lead to charges.

Penalties for a conviction of unlawful contact with a minor

In many cases, people are charged with unlawful contact with a minor in addition to the applicable underlying offenses. People who are arrested for this charge are also commonly arrested for other crimes like statutory sexual assault, indecent assault, or other offenses. This crime is charged in the same degree and classification as the most serious offense for which you are accused of contacting a minor. For example, if you are accused of contacting a minor for the purposes of engaging in involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, you could be charged with attempted IDSI even if you did not meet the purported minor. A conviction for this crime is also considered to be a sex offense, which means that you will be required to register as a sex offender.

Other consequences for a conviction of unlawful contact with a minor

Unlawful contact with a minor is a felony offense. If you did follow through and had sexual contact with a minor, you can also be charged with additional crimes. If you are convicted of this offense, you might have to register as a sex offender and to live somewhere that is not close to schools. This type of offense carries a substantial public stigma, making it difficult for you at your job and with your friends, coworkers, employer, and spouse when they learn about your charges.

If you are convicted of this offense, you may suffer ongoing collateral consequences past the completion of your sentence. You might struggle to find a job or to find a home to live in. You might also lose any professional license that you have or be unable to obtain one that you want. Your applications to colleges and universities may also be turned down. If you have been charged with unlawful contact with a minor, it is important for you to work with an experienced sex crimes lawyer so you can mount a vigorous defense.

What to do if you have been charged

If you are facing charges of unlawful contact with a minor, you should get help from an experienced sex crimes defense lawyer. An experienced West Chester sex offense lawyer can review the evidence in your case and provide you with an explanation of your options. Contact DiCindio Law to schedule a free and confidential consultation by calling 610-430-3535.

Sentencing and Penalties Voluntary Manslaughter

All homicide offenses in Pennsylvania are serious crimes, including voluntary manslaughter. If you are convicted of voluntary manslaughter, you may face severe consequences. While all homicides are serious, they are not all treated the same. Voluntary manslaughter is a lesser offense than a murder charge, but it still requires you to mount a vigorous defense. At DiCindio Law, we represent people who have been accused of committing all types of crimes, including homicide offenses. Here is what you need to understand about voluntary manslaughter, the penalties, and the possible defenses.

Criminal homicide and voluntary manslaughter

Criminal homicide is defined in 18 Pa.C.S. § 2501 as being the intentional, reckless, knowing, or negligent killing of another person. Multiple crimes are considered to be criminal homicide offenses, including the following:

  • First-degree murder
  • Second-degree murder
  • Third-degree murder
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Causing or assisting suicide
  • Delivering drugs that cause death
  • Criminal homicide of a law enforcement officer

First-degree murder is the most serious type of criminal homicide and can result in capital punishment or life in prison without parole. Voluntary and involuntary manslaughter are criminal homicide offenses for cases in which the facts do not quite rise to the level of a murder charge. In some cases, however, a prosecutor may charge a defendant with murder as well as voluntary manslaughter when the prosecutor is unsure that he or she will be able to prove the elements of murder beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors do this to try to ensure that they can secure convictions against defendants whom they believe killed people.

The main difference between manslaughter and murder is the degree of culpability. Murder charges require that the killers acted with malice. Manslaughter is an unjustified killing that does not include malice. The penalties for manslaughter are much less severe than they are for murder. Voluntary manslaughter is more serious than involuntary manslaughter, however.

Voluntary vs. involuntary manslaughter

In Pennsylvania, manslaughter is classified into two types, including voluntary and involuntary manslaughter. These two different types of manslaughter are distinguished by the intent and the circumstances. Involuntary manslaughter is found in 18 Pa.C.S. § 2504 and is less serious than voluntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a defendant kills another person while he or she is acting recklessly or with gross negligence while performing a lawful or unlawful act. Involuntary manslaughter is a first-degree misdemeanor carrying the potential of up to five years in prison and a fine of $10,000.

Voluntary manslaughter is more serious than involuntary manslaughter and carries harsher penalties. Voluntary manslaughter is found in 18 Pa.C.S. § 2503 and occurs when a defendant kills another person in a heat of passion because of provocation by the victim. It also includes a killing when the defendant is in a heat of passion after being provoked by a third party who the defendant attempts to kill but accidentally kills the victim instead. Finally, it also includes scenarios in which the defendant intentionally killed another person under an unreasonable belief that the killing is justified such as in a case of imperfect self-defense or defense of others.

The provocation for voluntary manslaughter has to be severe enough that any reasonable person would have a passionate reaction. For the killing to be considered to have happened in the heat of passion, the killing must follow the provocation without sufficient time passing for the defendant to calm down. If you are convicted of voluntary manslaughter, it is a first-degree felony that carries up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $25,000.

Potential defenses to voluntary manslaughter charges

The defenses that your attorney might raise to defend you against voluntary manslaughter charges will depend on the circumstances and facts of what occurred. Your lawyer might examine the evidence and investigate the case to determine whether it might have been a negligent or accidental killing instead of an intentional act. He or she might also look to determine whether you might have been acting in self-defense instead of reacting to provocation and if your beliefs were reasonable.

Your attorney will carefully review the facts to identify all of the defenses that you might be able to raise in your case. If you have been charged with voluntary manslaughter, contact DiCindio Law in West Chester to start building your defense. Fill out our online contact form to request a free consultation.

Is there a difference between theft, robbery, and burglary in Pennsylvania?

Many Pennsylvanians confuse theft, robbery, and burglary. If you are unclear about the differences between these three crimes, you need to learn what they are. Understanding these offenses can help you to avoid being charged with one of them. If you have been arrested and charged with one of these offenses, contact DiCindio Law to learn about your charges and the defenses that might be available to you.

Theft in Pennsylvania

You can be charged with theft if you unlawfully take or exercise control over the moveable property of someone else when you have the intent to deprive him or her permanently of that property. Theft offenses differ from robbery and burglary because they don’t involve making threats to others or trespassing on the property of others. Under the theft law, the property includes anything that has value, and the moveable property is the property that can be moved from one location to another.

Theft by deception

Theft by deception involves obtaining or withholding someone else’s property through the use of deception. With this type of theft, the owner gives you control of the property because of your deception. This might include situations in which you create or reinforce a false impression about the value of the item, your intent regarding the item, or the law. It can also include your failure to correct a false impression that you have created or reinforced.

Theft by extortion

Theft by extortion involves you taking or withholding someone else’s property by threat. The threat that you make might include a threat to commit a crime, a threat to accuse someone else of a crime, a threat to expose a secret, a threat to take official action, a threat to testify in a legal case, or other types of threats that are meant to blackmail the victim.

Theft of mislaid property

Theft of mislaid property involves finding some property that has been lost and keeping it for yourself. This could include finding a $100 bill on the sidewalk and pocketing it instead of taking steps to find its rightful owner. You are required to take steps to find the rightful owner and to wait a specific amount of time before you can lawfully claim the property.

There are many other types of theft, including receiving stolen property, shoplifting, theft of trade secrets, theft of services, and others. If you have been charged with any type of theft, you need to talk to a lawyer at DiCindio Law.

Burglary charges in Pennsylvania

Burglary is considered to be a trespass offense instead of a theft offense. A person commits a burglary when he or she trespasses on the property of another person or business with the intent to commit a crime. Even if you did not enter a home with the intent to steal, you can still be charged with burglary if you intended to commit any other crime. You can be charged with burglary when someone is present and when someone is not present. You can also be charged with burglary when you enter a home or a business.

Robbery charges in Pennsylvania

Robbery is the most serious theft offense. Two types of robbery are recognized in Pennsylvania, including general robbery and force used in the theft of a motor vehicle, which is called robbery of a motor vehicle. You may be charged with a robbery if you threatened another person or injured him or her while you committed a theft. Robbery can also occur when you use force to take something away from someone else such as during a mugging.

Armed robbery involves using a knife, gun, or fake weapon to commit the offense. If you injure the other person, you may also be charged with aggravated assault.

Potential defenses to theft, robbery, and burglary

The Pennsylvania penal code contains some statutory defenses to theft, burglary, and robbery. In addition, other defenses might be available to you. Some of the defenses that you might raise include the following:

  • Self-defense or defense of others such as when you take a gun away from someone to protect yourself and others
  • Preventing a serious crime
  • Necessity
  • Duress
  • Involuntary intoxication
  • Insanity
  • Entrapment

You may also have a defense available to you if you did not intend to permanently deprive someone of their property to a theft charge. For example, if you borrowed something from someone with the intent to return the property, you will have a defense to a theft charge. It is also a defense if you are charged with taking the property of another when you believe that the property is yours. This will require you to present evidence showing why you had a good faith belief that you owned the property.

At DiCindio Law, we understand the rules, laws, and procedures that are needed to defend our clients who are charged with all types of theft offenses as well as with robbery or burglary offenses. We work to stay current with changes in the law so that we are better able to present strong defenses for our clients.

Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer at DiCindio Law

If you have been charged with theft, robbery, or burglary, you need to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. You should treat all criminal charges seriously because they can result in lengthy jail or prison sentences, stiff fines, restitution, and other penalties. Even after you have completed your sentence, having a conviction for theft, burglary, or robbery on your criminal record can cause long-lasting collateral consequences. You may have trouble finding employment or housing. By getting help from an attorney at DiCindio Law, you might increase your chances of achieving a successful outcome. Contact us today to schedule an appointment by calling us or by filling out our online contact form.

DiCindio Law, LLC opens newly renovated West Chester Office

DiCindio Law, LLC opens newly renovated West Chester Office building.

Located in downtown West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania and built in 1900 – the firm’s building has undergone a top to bottom renovation/restoration with the idea of preserving and repairing the building to the beauty it once was and providing Mike’s client’s with a comfortable and accessible office location and atmosphere.

Mike DiCindio looks forward to continuing to serve his current and future client’s for years to come at this new location.

West Chester Criminal Lawyer and West Chester Personal Injury Lawyer

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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.

Criminal Defense Chester County

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

Self-Defense in Pennsylvania

Self-Defense in Pennsylvania

Under Pennsylvania law when a crime of violence has been alleged a criminal defense attorney must evaluate the circumstances and determine whether or not self-defense would be an available principle of justification and defense in the criminal case. Whether it be a prosecution of simple assault, harassment, aggravated assault, or even a murder or criminal homicide case, self-defense must be evaluated before moving forward with a strategy for legal defense. Under Pennsylvania law the general principle of self-defense is that the use of force towards another is justifiable if the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of force by another person on the pres

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West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

ent occasion. Still, as with any criminal justification defense there are limits to self-defense in Pennsylvania.

For example there is a limit on the level of force that may be reasonably used which becomes a factual determination for  the jury.  There are also limits on the use of deadly force and when it can be used in a justifiable manner. Finally, there are numerous intricate scenarios where the self-defense or use of force in self-protection statute differentiates between the location of the incident.  For example, different rules may apply if someone is acting in self-defense in their home rather than in public.

Putting forth a self-defense justification defense in Pennsylvania is incredibly involved at times and usually based upon the specific circumstances of a given scenario.

If you or a loved one needs representation on any criminal matter – contact Mike DiCindio, Esq. directly.

  • § 505.  Use of force in self-protection.

(a)  Use of force justifiable for protection of the person.–The use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.

(b)  Limitations on justifying necessity for use of force.–

(1)  The use of force is not justifiable under this section:

(i)  to resist an arrest which the actor knows is being made by a peace officer, although the arrest is unlawful; or

(ii)  to resist force used by the occupier or possessor of property or by another person on his behalf, where the actor knows that the person using the force is doing so under a claim of right to protect the property, except that this limitation shall not apply if:

(A)  the actor is a public officer acting in the performance of his duties or a person lawfully assisting him therein or a person making or assisting in a lawful arrest;

(B)  the actor has been unlawfully dispossessed of the property and is making a reentry or recaption justified by section 507 of this title (relating to use of force for the protection of property); or

(C)  the actor believes that such force is necessary to protect himself against death or serious bodily injury.

(2)  The use of deadly force is not justifiable under this section unless the actor believes that such force is necessary to protect himself against death, serious bodily injury, kidnapping or sexual intercourse compelled by force or threat; nor is it justifiable if:

(i)  the actor, with the intent of causing death or serious bodily injury, provoked the use of force against himself in the same encounter; or

(ii)  the actor knows that he can avoid the necessity of using such force with complete safety by retreating, except the actor is not obliged to retreat from his dwelling or place of work, unless he was the initial aggressor or is assailed in his place of work by another person whose place of work the actor knows it to be.


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

Rape Charges

Being accused of committing a Rape can have devastating, far-reaching and irreversible consequences to an individual’s reputation, profession and liberty.  Rape charges / cases are often filled with emotional, factual, and credibility issues that a criminal defense attorney must effectively analyze and use to his client’s benefit before a judge or jury.

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

Under the Rape statute in Pennsylvania, there are different ways in which the crime of Rape can occur and therefore different elements that must be proven by the Commonwealth beyond a reasonable doubt before a conviction can result. Each different legal term in the statute has a specific definition that must be understood and analyzed in detail in comparison with the facts of a case before a proper and complete defense can be prepared.

If you or a loved one has been accused, charged or convicted of a crime or rape charges and are in need of legal help contact criminal defense attorney Mike DiCindio directly.

                          18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3121.  Rape.

(a)  Offense defined.–A person commits a felony of the first degree when the person engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant:

(1)  By forcible compulsion.

(2)  By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution.

(3)  Who is unconscious or where the person knows that the complainant is unaware that the sexual intercourse is occurring.

(4)  Where the person has substantially impaired the complainant’s power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance.

(5)  Who suffers from a mental disability which renders the complainant incapable of consent.


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

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

 

Merger of Criminal Offenses

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

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

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

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West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

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

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

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

 


 

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

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