Being convicted of a crime can be a very scary and overwhelming experience. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to know that you are not alone and that there are people who can help.
A criminal defense lawyer can assist you in a number of ways, no matter what type of crime you’re charged with. Misdemeanor charges should always be taken seriously, and you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.
What is a Misdemeanor in Pennsylvania?
There are three levels of misdemeanors in Pennsylvania: first-degree misdemeanors, second-degree misdemeanors, and third-degree misdemeanors.
- First-degree misdemeanors are the most serious and are punishable by imprisonment for up to five years, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both.
- Second-degree misdemeanors are punishable by imprisonment for up to two years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
- Third-degree misdemeanors are punishable by imprisonment for up to one year, a fine of not more than $2,500, or both.
The most common misdemeanor charges in Pennsylvania include driving under the influence (DUI), simple assault, terroristic threats, theft (depending on the value of the items), and drug possession.
Why You Need a Lawyer For a Misdemeanor Charge
Anytime you’re arrested and charged with a criminal offense, it is advisable to hire an attorney to represent you. Here’s why:
- They will assess your case. A criminal defense lawyer will first assess your case to determine the best course of action. This includes reviewing discovery, such as witness statements, police reports, and any other evidence the prosecutor provides them. They will then gather their own important evidence, interview witnesses, and prepare for trial.
- They will negotiate. An experienced lawyer will be able to negotiate with prosecutors to try to get the charges reduced or dismissed. They can also help you navigate the criminal justice system and ensure that your rights are protected.
- They can file an appeal. If you are convicted, one of the first things your criminal defense lawyer will do is assess whether there are grounds for an appeal. This involves looking at the evidence that was presented at trial and determining if there were any errors made that could impact the outcome of the case.
- They can present mitigation at sentencing. Even if an appeal is not possible or successful, a criminal defense lawyer can still help you by presenting mitigating factors at sentencing. This means that your lawyer will provide the court with information about your personal circumstances and background that could impact the sentence imposed. For example, if you have no prior criminal convictions or if the crime you were convicted of was relatively minor, this could lead to a lighter sentence.
Possible Legal Defenses for Misdemeanors in Pennsylvania
While the specific defenses available to you will depend on the facts and circumstances of your case and the crime you’re charged with, here are some of the most common defenses that criminal defense lawyers can use to fight your misdemeanor charges.
An alibi defense requires you to provide evidence that proves you were not at the scene of the crime. There are a few ways to establish an alibi. The most common is to have witnesses who can testify that they saw you somewhere else at the time of the crime. Another way is to have other evidence of where you were at the time, such as credit card records or security footage.
If you have an airtight alibi, it will be very difficult for the prosecution to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, if your alibi is weak – for example, the only evidence you can provide is a statement from a spouse or family member – it may not be enough to convince a judge or jury of innocence.
Mistaken identity is a common defense to criminal charges. The defense typically relies on evidence that there are substantial similarities between you, the defendant, and the actual perpetrator, such as physical appearance or manner of dress.
In some cases, the defense may also argue that the prosecution’s witnesses were unable to accurately identify the perpetrator due to factors such as poor lighting or distance. If you can show that there is a possibility that someone else committed the crime, then you should not be found guilty.
If you have been charged with drug possession, the prosecution must be able to prove that the drugs were actually in your possession. This means that if the drugs were found in a shared space, such as a car or an apartment, the prosecution would have to show that you were aware of their presence and had the ability to control them.
If you can show that you did not have actual possession of the drugs, the charges against you may be reduced or dismissed entirely.
Motion to Suppress
you are facing criminal charges, one of the first things your attorney will do is try to get the evidence against you suppressed. They do this by filing a motion to suppress, which is a legal argument that asks the court to exclude certain evidence from trial.
The goal is to make it so that the jury never hears about certain items of evidence that could be damaging to your case. For example, if the police searched your house without a warrant and there was no warrant exception present, any evidence they found could be suppressed. This is because the search would have been conducted illegally. Similarly, if the police interrogate you without reading you your Miranda rights, anything you said could be suppressed.
The key to a successful motion to suppress is demonstrating that the evidence in question was obtained illegally or through some other improper means. If the court agrees, then that evidence will not be allowed at trial, and your chances of acquittal will increase significantly.
Contact Dicindio Law, LLC to Schedule a Free Consultation to Discuss Your Case
If you have been charged with a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania, don’t lose hope—there may be a chance to avoid conviction. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers will know how to spot weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and use them to your advantage. Contact or call DiCindio Law, LLC today to schedule a free consultation at (610) 430-3535.