But my doctor said . . .Controlled Substance and Drug DUI Cases in Pennsylvania

Many people commonly thing of DUI as “drunk driving” or “driving while intoxicated.” For many, that is solely associated with driving while under influence of alcohol. While alcohol related DUI offenses do make up a large portion of the DUI cases seen in the Pennsylvania criminal justice system – drug DUI charges also make up a large portion, and are commonly misunderstood. Further, prescription or not – many different drugs can lead to a DUI arrest and conviction. It is not just the “street” drugs like cocaine, marijuana and heroin that add to the DUI conviction rate.

In today’s culture, many people are prescribed controlled for a variety of ailments – some mental, some emotional and some physical. It is a common for individuals to not understand how a prescribe drug can lead to a DUI conviction.

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Contact Chester County Criminal Lawyer Mike DiCindio to discuss your case today

Just because a doctor prescribed the drug, doesn’t mean it can’t lead to a drug DUI in Pennsylvania.

First, many of the drugs prescribed today are in fact drugs that may fit into the “schedules” or listing of drugs that may lead to a DUI.

Second, you need not always be “impaired” or “incapable of safely driving.” If there is enough of the drug in your system to meet the “per se” levels, the Commonwealth does not, under the law, need to prove impairment.

Third, when combined with alcohol or other drugs, the prescribed drug may impact an individual in a different way – beyond what was intended. This may lead to impairment due to the combination.

Finally, just because a doctor says “use caution when taking this drug” doesn’t mean that the levels may not rise to “per se” or cause you to be impaired.

If arrested for a drug DUI in Pennsylvania, it is important to have an experienced criminal defense and DUI attorney who will be able to analyze the levels of the drugs in your system, speak to your doctors if needed and begin to formulate a viable defense against the charges you are facing.

Contact Mike DiCindio to discuss 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 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.

DUI Suspensions and more – License Options

In Pennsylvania, there are many offenses that, if convicted, carry with them a license suspension for the offender. DUI, certain levels of speeding, possession of a controlled substance and even underage drinking are a few of these offenses.

Mike DiCindio West Chester, PA Attorney

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

When someone has a DUI suspension or one of these other many offenses, their lives are impacted in major ways. Many will not be able to get to work as easily or at all, and even others may not be permitted to stay at their current job or take certain types of employment due to the license suspension.

Pennsylvania has two main types of licenses that may, possibly, provide an offender with the chance to operate a motor vehicle for limited purposes and at limited times despite the suspensions that are in effect.

First, there is a possibility, even with certain DUI offenders, of getting an “Occupational Limited License.” In Pennsylvania, this permits the qualifying offender to operate a motor vehicle only when necessary for work, study, or medical treatment.

Second, there is what is termed a “Probationary License.” This is a once in a lifetime license able to be obtained by qualifying offenders who have had their license suspended for more than 5 years. They must have served a portion of the suspension before applying and the length required to first be served depends on the circumstances of the specific offender and the number of violations/length of suspension. If one qualifies for this license, they are permitted to drive between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.

An experienced attorney should be contacted to discuss eligibility as well as the process of applying for either one of these licenses.

 


 

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.

Use and Abuse of Leading Questions: What are they and when are they allowed?

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Contact West Chester criminal lawyer Michael DiCindio, Esq. to discuss your case today

Then you ran away?

My client never injured you?

This was the only contact you had with him, correct?

Everyday, in criminal courts across Pennsylvania, there is a fine line that is walked with what each lawyer believes is a “leading” question.  Before getting into court and litigating a matter, any matter, it is important for an attorney to understand what a leading question is and when it is permitted to be used.  The following should give a brief overview of the concept of “leading” a witness – and shed light on what kinds of questions are to be viewed as leading questions.

Under Pa. Rule of Evidence 611(c) the times that counsel may ask leading questions are delineated. The rule states:

“Leading questions should not be used on the direct or redirect examination of a witness except as may be necessary to develop the witness’ testimony. Ordinarily, leading questions should be permitted on cross-examination. When a party calls a hostile witness, an adverse party or a witness identified with an adverse party, interrogation may be by leading questions; a witness so examined should usually be interrogated by all other parties as to whom the witness is not hostile or adverse as if under redirect examination.”

 Pa. R. Evid. 611(c)(emphasis added).

A leading question, as defined by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, is one which puts the desired answer in the mouth of the witness. Com. v. Chambers, 599 A.2d 630 (Pa. 1991) citing Com. v. Dreibelbis, 426 A.2d 1111, 1116 (1981). The language of Rule 611(c) regarding the use leading questions when questioning one’s own witness is to be liberally construed. Chambers, 599 A.2d 630. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that it is within the discretion of the trial court to govern when leading questions may be permitted in order to “permit parties to elicit any material truth without regard to the technical considerations of who called the witness.” Chambers, 599 A.2d 630 at 640, citing Commonwealth v. Deitrick, 70 A. 275 (Pa. 1908). This discretion does not have a defined limit, but rather is to be exercised and limited by the interests of fairness and justice on a case by case basis. Chambers, 599 A.2d 630 at 640.

The trial court has wide discretion in controlling the use of leading questions. Com. v. Lambert, 765 A.2d 306 (Pa. Super. 2000). This wide discretion will not be disturbed on appeal absent a clear abuse of the discretion afforded to the trial court. Commonwealth v. Jones, 487 Pa. 183, 185, 409 A.2d 25, 26-27 (1979); Commonwealth v. Chmiel, 777 A.2d 459 (2001); Commonwealth v. Reidenbaugh, 282 Pa.Superior Ct. 300, 422 A.2d 1126 (1980); Commonwealth v. Guess, 266 Pa.Superior Ct. 359, 404 A.2d 1330 (1979).

Pennsylvania law has recognized numerous times when leading questions during direct examination are permitted. Commonwealth v. Reeves, 267 Pa. 361, 110 A. 158, Pa., December 12, 1919 (When a party is surprised by a witness unexpectedly turning hostile); Com. v. Lambert, 765 A.2d 306 (Pa.Super. 2000)(When a witness is hostile, proves to be hostile or the party calling the witness is surprised by testimony of the witness inconsistent with prior statements);   Com. v. Tavares, 555 A.2d 199 (Pa. Super 1989)( on direct examination when there is difficulty in getting direct and intelligible answers); Commonwealth v. Smolko, 666 A.2d 669 (Pa. Super 1992)(the victim is unable to communicate due to a disease which only allows for limited communication, such as only being able to raise either a left or right arm to answer yes or no); Commonwealth v. Polston, 616 A.2d 669 (Pa. Super 1992)(when questioning a child witness because they are generally easily intimidated in a courtroom setting); Katz v. St. Mary Hosp., 816 A.2d 1125 (Pa.Super. 2003)(when leading questions are needed due to the length and complexity of the testimony as long as the elicited responses are of information that would have been admissible despite the leading format); Ward v. City of Pittsburgh, 44 A.2d 553 (Pa. 1945)( Where a witness has a speech affliction which prevents him or her from speaking in the usual manner); Fish v. Gosnell, 463 A.2d 1042 (Pa.Super. 1983)(if solely an isolated leading question); Com. v. Smith, 115 A.2d 782 (Pa.Super 1955)(When a witness is reluctant to testify); Pennsylvania Labor Relations Bd. v. Butz, 192 A.2d 707 (Pa. 1963)(if the use of the leading questions does not affect the substance of the direct evidence, i.e. it was not viewed as less credible just because the testimony was elicited through leading questions); Commonwealth. v. McLean, 1995 WL 632696 Pa.Com.Pl. (1995)(to refresh a witnesses recollection or jog their memory outside of the presence or hearing of the jury).

It is well settled that the mere fact of a question requiring, or suggesting, a yes or no answer does not automatically make the question leading. Waltosh v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 259 Pa. 372, 103 A. 55 (1918); Foster v. Sol Greisler & Sons, 29 A.2d 103 (Pa. Super 1942). The United States Supreme Court noted that in deciding whether a question is leading is a question of form. The Court, in a footnote, discussed seven of seventeen “plainly leading” questions that were asked by counsel. This was done by quoting the phrases which made them leading. Of the seven “plainly leading” questions referenced in footnote 11 of Ohio v. Roberts four of them are what would be called “elliptical” interrogatories that take the form of statements. Elliptical interrogatories are questions in which the verb, and at times the subject, is removed, and the intonation is such that it suggests a “yes” or “no” answer. The footnoted stated:

“No less than 17 plainly leading questions were asked, as indicated by phrases in counsel’s inquiries: “is[n’t] it a fact . . . that”; “is it to your knowledge, then, that . . . ”; “is[n’t] that correct”; “you never gave them . . . ”; “this wasn’t then in the pack . . . ”; “you have never [not] seen [discussed; talked] . . . ”; “you never gave. . . . ”

 Footnote 11, Ohio v. Roberts.

While Ohio v. Roberts was later overruled by the Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004) decision on other grounds, footnote eleven is support for the modern trend of allowing cross-examination to take the form of elliptical questions; questions that express interrogatory emotion to the witness through inflection and intonation, rather than by words alone. It must be remembered, that while on paper these questions do not always read as interrogatories, when conveyed in court they are expressed and understood as such.

How evidence is elicited from a witness on the stand is crucial to how it is perceived and understood by the Judge and Jury, alike.  Knowing these rules and the principles involved in them can give any trial lawyer the added benefit of understanding when to use leading questions and how to do so effectively.


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.

 

Pennsylvania DUI Defense: Top Three Arguments

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Contact West Chester DUI lawyer Mike DiCindio to discuss defense options

When someone has been arrested and charged with a DUI offense in West Chester, or anywhere in Pennsylvania – there are three types of common DUI defense arguments (among others) to the DUI charges. Theses three general DUI defenses are:

 

  1. The Law
  2. The Facts
  3. The Science

 

The Law

 

When officers conduct vehicle stops, they are required to have either reasonable suspicion or probable cause, depending on the circumstances. If the officer did not possess one of these legal justifications the stop of the vehicle will be found to be unconstitutional and the evidence flowing from it will be “suppressed.” There is a large body of case law that addressed the legal sufficiency of traffic stops by law enforcement in DUI matters. An experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer should be familiar with the law and decide whether a motion should be filed to contest the basis for the vehicle stop.

 

The Facts

 

In many DUI cases, in particular, DUI cases where the person charged refused chemical testing and where the Commonwealth is alleging that the driver was “incapable of safe driving” the facts become the focal point of the case. In order to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, the Commonwealth must show that the individual was incapable of safely driving due to the amount of alcohol he/she drank without the added benefit of an objective scientific test (i.e. blood test/breath test results). Police officers typically cite the same, or similar core group of observations that led them to believe the driver was incapable of safe driving due to the level of alcohol they consumed. Typically, these observations include glassy, watery or bloodshot eyes, the odor of alcohol, sluggish responses, and more. A skilled criminal defense lawyer will analyze the facts and circumstances of a particular case and prepare an argument to show why the Commonwealth’s evidence does not support the beyond a reasonable doubt standard and why the facts cited do not provide any insight into how much alcohol someone has consumed.

 

The Science

 

There are certain requirements that the breath and blood tests must follow in order to ensure accuracy in each case. If those methods/requirements are not followed the science behind the accuracy of the results may become an issue and may lead to a defense in a DUI case. It is the Commonwealth’s burden to present evidence sufficient to show that all of the scientific requirements have been met.  When they cannot, the accuracy of the chemical testing may be called into question or kept out of the case all together.

 

The above listed information are three overarching defense categories and by no means represent the entire body of potential DUI defenses available in any given case. When arrested for a DUI offense it is crucial to contact a skilled and knowledgeable DUI lawyer immediately to properly analyze your case and begin planning a defense strategy.

 


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.

 

Pennsylvania Criminal Process Explained for Parents: Daily Local News Q&A

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Mike DiCindio of  DiCindio Law, LLC

Mike DiCindio explains Pennsylvania Criminal process for parents with Julia Sherwin, Perspective on Parenting Columnist for the Daily Local News and Philly2Philly.com as well as host of a weekly radio show on WCHE 1520 a.m., “Perspectives on Parenting with Julia Sherwin” caught up with Criminal Defense Attorney Michael D. DiCindio for this past Sunday’s column in the Daily Local News – a newspaper serving Chester County, Pennsylvania.  The column was titled “If your Child Gets Arrested…”

Column Originally posted in the Sunday, January 11, 2015 Daily Local News

Julia presented three questions to DiCindio aimed at addressing some overarching questions parents may have about what to do when a child has been arrested.  She also provided four points from DiCindio’s previous blog article “My Kid Got Arrested, What Now?: Part I – The Pennsylvania Criminal Process For Parents” . The column was published in the Lifestyle/Living Portion of the Daily Local News.

For the full text of Julia’s Daily Local column go here.

For more of Julia’s articles, columns, tips and insight,  visit Julia Sherwin’s website here, and interact with her on twitter here.

Michael DiCindio and DiCindio Law want to thank Julia – he is honored to be a part of the column.

 

 

Michael DiCindio Voted A 2014 Top Criminal Attorney

Michael DiCindio, Esq. Voted a 2014 Top Criminal 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.

Michael DiCindio voted a Top Criminal Attorney of 2014

Suburban Life Magazine and Philadelphia Magazine readers voted Michael DiCindio a Top Criminal Attorney of 2014.

 January 2, 2015 – 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 December 2014 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.”

As a former prosecutor, Michael knows what his clients should expect when facing prosecution.  He tirelessly analyzes his client’s cases and prides himself on being an accessible and caring legal counselor to them – and an aggressive advocate of their rights.

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

Top Attorneys
More than 275 of the keenest legal minds in the Philadelphia area were voted “Top” in their fields when Suburban Life Magazine “asked readers to share their opinions on which attorneys excel in various areas of practice—from antitrust to zoning, and everything in between—and they did not disappoint. Hundreds of readers cast votes to help compile a definitive list of attorneys to turn to for help and guidance when they need it most”. Read the full list of Top Nominated Attorneys in the Philadelphia area.  Michael DiCindio is honored to be voted a “Top Criminal Attorney” by Suburban Life Magazine’s readers.