How to Avoid a Criminal Record for First-Time Offenders

If you have a criminal record, it can seriously impact your life. A conviction can cause you to lose your job or to have problems finding a new position. Some convictions may cause you to lose your ability to get financial aid for school. You could also lose your government benefits and have trouble getting into a college of your choice or into the military. If you are a first-time offender of a minor offense, you might be able to participate in a diversion program to avoid a conviction.

Every county in Pennsylvania has its own district attorney’s office. These offices have their own diversion programs and admission requirements. At DiCindio Law, we can advise you about whether you might qualify for a diversion program and help you to apply if you do. The benefit of these programs is that your charges could be withdrawn, and you might be able to have them expunged from your record. Some of the diversion programs that are available in Chester County include the following:

• Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program or ARD
• Drug Court
• Mental Health Court pre-plea or post-plea diversion

What is a diversion program?

A diversion program allows you to have your criminal case diverted away from going to trial. Depending on whether your diversion is pre- or post-plea, you might not have to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. You may be assigned a probation officer who will supervise your progress in the diversion program. When you successfully complete it, the charges against you may be dismissed or withdrawn. They can then be expunged from your record. Commonly, these programs require you to pay fines, perform community service, attend drug and alcohol treatment, and attend other classes. You may also be required to meet with the probation officer and to submit to drug and alcohol tests. If you are placed in a diversion program, it is important that you comply with all of the instructions so that you can complete it and have your charges dismissed.

The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program (ARD)

The ARD program was created by statute and is available in all counties in Pennsylvania. If you do not have any prior arrests or have a very limited history, you might be eligible for the ARD program. The ARD program may be available to you if you are facing charges for a low-level misdemeanor, including the following types (depending on the county you are charged in):

  • DUI
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Theft
  • Harassment
  • Simple assault
  • Criminal mischief
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Retail theft
  • Passing bad checks
  • Simple possession

The District Attorney determines who can be admitted into the ARD program. Even if you are facing one of the previously listed charges, the circumstances might result in you being rejected from ARD. Conversely, if you have been overcharged, it is possible that you might gain admission to ARD even if you are facing more serious charges.

Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney may help you to gain admission to the ARD program. An attorney might know how to complete the application and who to talk to at the DA’s office in order to give you the best chances of being admitted.

Drug Court

The Chester County Drug Court Program was the second such program in the state of Pennsylvania. This program is available to people who are charged with non-mandatory drug crimes or DUIs with drug offenses who do not have any record of violent offenses. In order to be eligible to participate, you must waive your right to a preliminary hearing and legally reside in the U.S.

The District Attorney has discretion about who to admit to the drug court program. Your lawyer can submit an application on your behalf, and you will have to complete a drug and alcohol assessment. If you are accepted, you will be assigned to a probation officer for intensive supervision. You will go through several phases during the program, and you must submit to drug and alcohol tests, appear before the court for regular reviews, and comply with all of the program’s rules. You will also have to actively seek or maintain a job or engage in productive activity each day and pay costs and fines. If you successfully complete all of the phases of the drug court program, maintain your sobriety, and have stable employment (among potential other conditions) the court will dismiss your charges and you can expunge them from your record.

If you violate any of the conditions of the drug court program, you can be removed from it or receive sanctions. The program takes from 12 to 24 months and goes through four phases. If you violate the program, the program may last longer. If you are removed from it, you will face the underlying charges and will have to handle them through the regular criminal court process.

Mental health court

The mental health court program is available on a pre-plea or post-plea diversionary basis or as a referral from probation. You may be eligible for mental health court if you are diagnosed with a mental illness or a dual diagnosis of a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder and have been charged with a misdemeanor or certain felony offenses. The mental health court staff complete screenings to determine eligibility. If you are accepted into the program, you will move through four phases. If your participation was completed on a pre-plea diversionary basis, the charges may be dismissed upon your successful completion. If you were referred and accepted to the program on a post-plea diversionary basis, you will be required to complete the programs supervision requirements after pleading guilty.

Contact DiCindio Law

If you are a first offender of a low-level misdemeanor offense or are facing charges for certain felony drug offenses, you may be eligible for a diversion program. Contact DiCindio Law to learn more about diversion and whether it might be a good choice for you.


DISCLAIMER
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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

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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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.

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense - Conspiracy Cases

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

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

Endangering the Welfare of a Child due to a DUI

If you are caught driving under the influence / DUI and have a child in the vehicle who is under the age of 18, you may be charged with the crime of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. The crime of Endangering the Welfare of a Child carries severe penalties under the state’s sentencing guidelines.  These penalties are above and beyond what you would be facing for the DUI itself.  While there are different elements for the crime of Endangering the Welfare of a Child offense, case law has supported the proposition that driving DUI with a child in the vehicle is enough to prove those added elements of the Endangering the Welfare of a Child offense.

Being convicted of Endangering the Welfare of a Child based on a DUI charge can create irreparable consequences to you – personally and professionally – act fast.

As with any case, specific arguments based on the circumstances and factual scenario dictate the likelihood of conviction.  This makes it crucial to thoroughly investigate your case and formulate a strong defense strategy if you are charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child due to a DUI / driving under the influence offense.  Having an Endangering the Welfare of a Child offense on your record can create irreparable consequences to your reputation and can potentially create clearance issues if you are an individual who works with children professionally.

If you have been charged with a DUI / driving under the influence offense or any other crime, contact Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. at DiCindio Law, LLC today.

The language of Section 4304 the Endangering Welfare of Children statute

  • 4304. Endangering welfare of children.
    (a) Offense defined.–
    (1) A parent, guardian or other person supervising the welfare of a child under 18 years of age, or a person that employs or supervises such a person, commits an offense if he knowingly endangers the welfare of the child by violating a duty of care, protection or support.
    (2) A person commits an offense if the person, in an official capacity, prevents or interferes with the making of a report of suspected child abuse under 23 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to child protective services).
    (3) As used in this subsection, the term “person supervising the welfare of a child” means a person other than a parent or guardian that provides care, education, training or control of a child.
    (b) Grading.–
    (1) Except as provided under paragraph (2), the following apply:
    (i) An offense under this section constitutes a misdemeanor of the first degree.
    (ii) If the actor engaged in a course of conduct of endangering the welfare of a child, the offense constitutes a felony of the third degree.
    (iii) If, in the commission of the offense under subsection (a)(1), the actor created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury, the offense constitutes a felony of the third degree.
    (iv) If the actor’s conduct under subsection (a)(1) created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury and was part of a course of conduct, the offense constitutes a felony of the second degree.
    (2) The grading of an offense under this section shall be increased one grade if, at the time of the commission of the offense, the child was under six years of age.

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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

Teachers charged with DUI / driving under the influence offenses

Driving Under the Influence charges ( DUI ) are one of the most common criminal charges that people face in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. With law enforcement cracking down on DUIs and the prosecutions of these cases becoming more aggressive – it is all the more likely that someone may be unfortunate enough to face DUI charges once in their lifetime.

For some, a DUI conviction leads to only a criminal conviction and driver’s license penalties. For others, it may create professional licensing matters that have the potential to harm their ability to earn a living and continue to work in their field.

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense - Conspiracy Cases

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

Teachers are a group who are potentially susceptible to professional discipline for driving under the influence / DUI offenses. If you are a teacher and are charged with DUI it is important to have a criminal defense lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to handle your criminal case in a proper and aggressive manner while also being well versed in the procedures and policies in your case as they relate to your professional license.

Teachers charged with DUI / driving under the influence offenses may have a duty to report their charges, and/or the dispositions of the charges, to their employers. Each case and school district may be different. Further, there are often services and tools that teachers may have at their disposal (and often times they are unaware of) that may further aid them through this process.

Teachers charged with DUI /driving under the influence offenses are often worried and rightfully concerned about their ability to teach being impacted. If you are a teacher who has been charged with a DUI / driving under the influence offense contact Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. at DiCindio Law, LLC 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

Credit for Time Served in Inpatient Facilities – DUI Cases

Credit for Time Served In Inpatient Facilities – DUI Cases

When someone has been arrested and is pending trial there are decisions that need to be made based upon the needs of the person and the strategy of the case.  Some of these decisions will be made by the individual and others may be made or dictated to them by the Judge.  One of the decisions is whether or not someone needs to be placed into an inpatient rehabilitation facility in order to address a substance abuse issue.  Most often, this arises out of DUI or driving under the influence / driving while impaired cases.

Voluntary treatment is treated differently than Court ordered treatment

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

What is important to know is that when someone is placed into inpatient as a condition of bail in lieu of pre-trial incarceration they are entitled to have that time spent in inpatient count against any jail sentence they may be later sentenced to. Commonwealth v. Cozzone, 593 A. 2d 860 (Pa. Super. 1991).  Alternatively, if someone voluntarily gone to inpatient on their own accord it may be credited towards their sentence but only if the sentencing Judge, in his/her discretion decides to grant the credit.

The lesson to take from this is that when someone is in the criminal system, facing incarceration and ends up in an inpatient rehabilitation for any reason – his attorney must evaluate any arguments about credit for time spent in rehab that may be available to the client in order to potentially limit the about of time in prison that ultimately must be served.

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

Aggravated Assault by Vehicle while DUI

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

Michael D. DiCindio Chester County Criminal and Personal Injury Attorney

Michael D. DiCindio Chester County Criminal and Personal Injury Attorney

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

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

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

Chester County Intermediate Punishment Program (IPP)

In our culture today one of the most common criminal charges, one that fills county dockets across state of Pennsylvania, is Driving Under the Influence (DUI). While many first-time offenders may be eligible for the ARD program (read more by clicking the link) there are many times where this is not offered or an individual is not eligible – possibly due to the facts and circumstances surrounding the DUI charge, possibly because of a prior criminal offenses or possibly it is not a first offense driving on the influence charge for the accused. In all of these cases, individuals who have been charged with a Driving Under the Influence / DUI offense face the potential of harsh mandatory incarceration sentences, potential supervision and conditions.

Mike DiCindio West Chester, PA Attorney

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

In these circumstances in Chester County, the Intermediate Punishment Program (IPP) is set up in a manner that allows first, second and potentially third offense Driving Under the Influence / DUI offenders to apply and, if deemed eligible and accepted by the court, receive a much less harsh imprisonment sentence mixed with electronic home confinement and community service.

While this Chester County Intermediate Punishment Program (IPP)  does not reduce the potential license suspension in these matters, it is a beneficial program when there are no legal arguments of merit that can be viewed as likely to win the case either before or at trial. In these matters, a skilled criminal lawyer may recommend this as the most beneficial potential outcome for a client.

It should be noted, in Chester County there are more offenses that may be eligible for the IPP program – still, the vast majority are DUI and DUI related suspension matters.

To read more about the IPP program or to see Chester County’s IPP chart go to the Chester County IPP website or contact DiCindio Law, LLC to speak to Mike DiCindio about your case today.


 

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

 

 

I finished the ARD program, is my expungement finished too?

Many people who are charged with first offense DUI cases are accepted into the ARD program in the county in which they were arrested. While they may be aware of it, often times upon completion of the program, these individuals do not proceed to have the records expunged. In turn, they are left with records of their DUI arrest and entry into the ARD program on their criminal record. A successful expungement would erase that, leaving only limited agencies who are permitted to retain them.

Common occurrences – individuals either believe that the records of their ARD participation and completion were automatically expunged, or they believe their previous attorney expunged it for them. When often times neither is the case.

When Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney

An expungement should be filed on DUI / ARD cases that are successfully completed.

The expungement procedure/process involves filing required documents, a petition and a proposed order with the Court. As a part of the proposed order, a list of agencies and departments is included. Usually including all of the Courts involved in the case, the central repository, the police departments involved and any other agencies that may have access to the records or case information. If the expungement is granted by the Court, the agencies will be sent the certified order and will be directed to expunge the records. (In some counties the clerk of courts sends the orders, in others the individual or his/her attorney does).   Depending on the Court dockets, the number of petitions submitted, and the procedure of the county in which the petition is filed, expungement orders may take many months to be presented to the Court and signed.  Making it crucial to prepare and file the expungement quickly after successful completion of the ARD program.

Expungement of an DUI ARD is something that should be taken seriously and followed through on. Any chance someone has to clear their criminal history of arrests or prosecutions will be beneficial to them in their future searches for employment, housing and many other vital portions of their life.

If you have an outstanding DUI ARD case that has yet to be expunged. Contact West Chester criminal lawyer Michael DiCindio to discuss your options today.


 

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 DiCindio 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.