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

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

Limited Tort and Full Tort

Under Pennsylvania law, there are two main types of insurance coverage for motor vehicles.  First, is called “limited tort” and the second “full tort.”  The main difference between limited tort and full tort is that when one has a limited tort policy, if they are injured in a car accident by the negligence of another person they are only entitled to recover for economic damages (i.e. – out of pocket expenses).  Under a full tort policy one injured in the same manner would be able to recover non-economic damages (i.e. – pain and suffering, etc.). While full tort policies are typically more expensive it is obvious why you may wish to pay the higher premium for this coverage in the event of a car accident.

Car Accident Attorney West Chester

Car Accident Attorney West Chester

While an individual cannot seek recovery for non-economic damages for injuries suffered in a car accident under a limited tort policy the law permits them to do so in the event that the injury they suffered was falls within the definition of “serious injury.”  The law defines serious injury as injuries of one or more impaired body functions; and whether that impairment of a body function was serious.  In determining whether the impairment of a body function was “serious” there are factors that are to be considered such as the extent of the impairment, the particular body function impaired, the length of time the impairment lasted, the treatment required to correct the impairment, and any other relevant factors.

It is important to hire a skilled and experienced personal injury/car accident attorney when you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident.  Contact Mike DiCindio and DiCindio Law, LLC to discuss your case today.

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.

Criminal Defense Chester County

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

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

Aggravated Assault by Vehicle

While many car accidents are just that, accidents, there is a few circumstances that may turn an accident into a criminal proceeding. Aggravated Assault by Vehicle is a very serious offense which has serious ramifications to the accused’s reputation, livelihood, and future.

When an individual causes serious bodily injury to another person while engaging a violation of any law of the Commonwealth of

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Chester County Criminal Defense

Pennsylvania which applies to driving will be guilty of a Felony of the Third Degree.

The key distinction between an accident and a case becoming a criminal matter is if the violation occurred with recklessness or with gross negligence. That becomes a question in which our case law in Pennsylvania has provided guidance. Nonetheless, these are serious situations and an allegation of committing Aggravated Assault by Vehicle can have a devastating impact on the individual accused. An aggressive defense must be mounted immediately in order to quickly and completely preserve evidence, evaluate potential defenses, and consult with expert witnesses about whether there are valid defenses to the allegations.

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

 

 

Title 75 § 3732.1.  Aggravated assault by vehicle. (Pennsylvania)

(a)  Offense.–Any person who recklessly or with gross negligence causes serious bodily injury to another person while engaged in the violation of any law of this Commonwealth or municipal ordinance applying to the operation or use of a vehicle or to the regulation of traffic, except section 3802 (relating to driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance), is guilty of aggravated assault by vehicle, a felony of the third degree when the violation is the cause of the injury.

(b)  Sentencing.–

(1)  In addition to any other penalty provided by law, a person convicted of a violation of subsection (a) may be sentenced to an additional term not to exceed two years’ confinement if at trial the prosecution proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the offense occurred in an active work zone.

(2)  In addition to any other penalty provided by law, a person convicted of a violation of subsection (a) as the result of a violation of section 3325 (relating to duty of driver on approach of emergency vehicle) or 3327 (relating to duty of driver in emergency response areas) and who is convicted of violating section 3325 or 3327 may be sentenced to an additional term not to exceed two years’ confinement when the violation resulted in serious bodily injury.

(3)  The prosecution must indicate intent to proceed under this section in the indictment or information which commences the prosecution.

(4)  The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, under 42 Pa.C.S. § 2154 (relating to adoption of guidelines for sentencing), shall provide for a sentencing enhancement for an offense under this section when the violation occurred in an active work zone or was the result of a violation of section 3325 or 3327.


 

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

Mental Health Defenses and Requirements in Criminal Law

Mental health and its interplay with the criminal justice system is an often misunderstood issue. It is also a very complicated issue.  Two of the main issues that often arise when addressing mental health and how it applies to a criminal prosecution are competency and insanity.

Insanity is a legal defense. Competency is a requirement.

Before an individual can stand trial and be prosecuted, they must be “competent to stand trial.” If they are not, the prosecution will be halted until they are or potentially dismissed if they may never be again.  The defense of “insanity” is when the defense presents evidence usually from a forensic psychiatrist that the defendant was “insane at the time the offense committed.

Both require evidence/testimony and/or reports from professional experts in the mental health field, usually a forensic psychologist.  Further, it is not uncommon for these issues to be raised together or apart, as they are not mutually inclusive or exclusive.  Further, both have specific legal definitions that must be understood and evaluated by a criminal defense attorney before making a decision on whether or not to move forward with challenges to either, or both, of these issues.

 

Mental Health Defenses and Requirements in Criminal Law


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

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. Voted 2016 “Top Attorney”

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. – West Chester, Pennsylvania Criminal Defense attorney and sole member of DiCindio Law, LLC – was recently voted a “Top Criminal Attorney” by Suburban Life Magazine and Philadelphia Life Magazine.

West Chester, Pennsylvania – DiCindio Law, LLC is a law firm that focuses the majority of its practice on representing individuals charged with crimes in West Chester, Chester County, and the surrounding areas in Pennsylvania.  As the sole member and head of the firm, Michael D. DiCindio, Esq.  puts his passion for the law and dedication to his client’s interests into every case he handles.  Recently, Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. was voted a “Top Attorney” in the field of Criminal Defense by Suburban Life Magazine.

Suburban Life Magazine published its list of top attorneys from the Philadelphia area in the April 2016  issue.  Readers were invited to cast votes to help compile what the magazine referred to as, “a definitive list of attorneys to turn to for help and guidance when they need it most.”

More information about Attorney Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. and the cases his firm handles can be found on the firm’s website: https://www.dicindiolaw.com

 

 

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. Voted 2016 “Top Attorney”


Preservation of Evidence

The preservation of evidence in criminal cases is incredibly important for the prosecution. For that reason and many more the preservation of evidence is crucial for the defense of a case, as well. No matter what criminal charge is currently pending against someone, as soon as possible after charges are filed, it is important for a defense attorney to preserve as much relevant and/or exculpatory evidence that he can in to begin to prepare a defense.

West Chester Criminal Lawyer

Chester County Criminal Defense

The Commonwealth dedicates significant resources and has what seems to be unlimited investigation tools at its disposal. When a client comes into a criminal defense lawyer’s office it is important to spending time speaking in detail about the case and the specific facts and circumstances. That will permit the lawyer to determine what investigation must be done. What evidence must be preserved. And what must be investigated further through the aid of a private investigator or in some circumstances and when appropriate the attorney himself.

 

This is true no matter what type of case. In a Driving Under the Influence, or DUI, cases there may be proof that someone was not driving, or evidence that can show they were not drinking. In assault cases there may be witnesses who can testify to the other parties being the first aggressor or a video that shows that the person who is charged shouldn’t have been charged. From a public drunkenness case all the way to a criminal homicide investigation preservation of evidence must be done swiftly and completely in order to properly prepare a defense.

 


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