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Violent Crimes
Robbery & Burglary

Violent Crimes Attorney

Often, these are the most serious offenses that someone can be charged with. In the case of homicide and manslaughter, these cases typically involve death of an individual – unless you are charged with attempted homicide.  In the case of a serious robbery, there is typically a violent taking of property from another. With a burglary offense, there will be entry into someone’s home or business with the intent to commit a crime. When charged with one of these offenses, people will typically be facing the potential of lengthy prison sentences (life for homicide) and the possibility of being sentenced to state incarceration rather than county prison sentences or probation.

For all these violent crimes, there are numerous defenses available that must be explored and developed. Having an attorney involved in your defense immediately will permit strategy and defense theory to be developed before evidence and witnesses are no longer available, identifiable or able to be located. The government will put a large amount of resources into the prosecution of these cases – your attorney should do the same when trying to identify what, if any, viable defenses you may have. Violent crimes range in severity, complexity and consequence. The one thing each of the crimes listed below have in common is the fact that each has numerous defenses that are applicable, and an attorney who understands the law and is willing to investigate, study your case and fight aggressively for you is of utmost importance.

If you or a loved one is charged with one of Pennsylvania’s violent crimes contact Mike DiCindio today at 610.220.4691!

Homicide

I’ve been Charged with Homicide…

There is not a more serious criminal offense than the taking of another individual’s life. A person’s liberty can be taken for decades, or for life, if convicted (depending on the degree). It is important to understand that the vast majority of homicide cases move very slowly. There is a great deal of investigation that we will undertake along with investigators. Every possible legal or factual issue will be explored fully. You should want this to occur before proceeding to trial or with any disposition. If convicted of First Degree Murder there is a mandatory life in prison sentence (unless it is a death penalty case) meaning we are not only looking for legal or factual issues that may win the case outright, but also issues that may allow us to argue against First Degree Murder and for a lower degree of murder that would not carry a life sentence.

We would also consult with any potential experts that could be needed or useful. Mental health, ballistic, medical, forensic toxicologists and many more may need to be used or at the very least consulted depending on the circumstances of the case. Other things of specific concern in many murder cases are defenses like self-defense and alibi. Finally, if we are able, we will compile a number of individuals who would testify to the good character of the client at trial. In the time before trial there will be negotiations that will likely occur at the same time we are litigating any pre-trial issues. After all negotiations have ended we will make a decision as to whether the client’s best option is to go to trial or accept a mitigated plea, if offered. Read More

PA Law Codes Defined

(a)  Offense defined.–A person is guilty of criminal homicide if he intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or negligently causes the death of another human being.

(b)  Classification.–Criminal homicide shall be classified as murder, voluntary manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter.

(a)  Murder of the first degree.–A criminal homicide constitutes murder of the first degree when it is committed by an intentional killing.

(b)  Murder of the second degree.–A criminal homicide constitutes murder of the second degree when it is committed while defendant was engaged as a principal or an accomplice in the perpetration of a felony.

(c)  Murder of the third degree.–All other kinds of murder shall be murder of the third degree. Murder of the third degree is a felony of the first degree.

Voluntary Manslaughter

I’ve been Charged with Voluntary Manslaughter…

When a person kills someone while acting under serious provocation by the victim or accidentally kills a different individual while trying to kill the person who provoked them, they will likely be charged with Voluntary Manslaughter. Voluntary Manslaughter also covers situations when someone believes they are justified in killing but that belief turns out to be unreasonable. When defending a voluntary manslaughter the facts matter more than ever.  In the provocation setting we are looking for sudden rage, anger, passion, terror or any other emotion that would render the person incapable of reflecting in calm manner. Also, we try and show that the killing occurred so quickly after the provocation that there was no time to reflect before acting.

These cases are very fact specific and they makes the jury determine not only if it a reasonable response to the provocation but also whether there enough time for “cool heads to prevail.”  The age-old illustration of this is the spouse walking in on his/her spouse while they are cheating. Again, these cases often times move slowly through the court system. That is not necessarily a bad thing as it permits a thorough and complete investigation into the facts and defenses before trial. Read More

PA Law Codes Defined

(a)  General rule.–A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he is acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by:

(1)  the individual killed; or

(2)  another whom the actor endeavors to kill, but he negligently or accidentally causes the death of the individual killed.

(b)  Unreasonable belief killing justifiable.–A person who intentionally or knowingly kills an individual commits voluntary manslaughter if at the time of the killing he believes the circumstances to be such that, if they existed, would justify the killing under Chapter 5 of this title (relating to general principles of justification), but his belief is unreasonable.

Involuntary Manslaughter

I’ve been Charged with Involuntary Manslaughter…

A lesser offense than Voluntary Manslaughter, Involuntary Manslaughter occurs when someone acts reckless/grossly negligent while doing an unlawful or lawful act and that act is the cause or another’s death. Often this charge is seen in Drunk Driving accidents where someone is killed or other similar reckless circumstances. We will first need to investigate the underlying circumstances. With this offense, it is not just ACTIONS that can give rise to the charge, it can also be NOT acting when there is a duty to do so.

Our first step will be is to investigate whether or not the client’s actions were reckless or grossly negligent under the circumstances. Sometimes other criminal behaviors are the foundation of this offense but there are also times when a duty in a profession, circumstance or relationship may have created a responsibility to act. For example, a nanny not coming to the aid of a choking child who they are supposed to be watching. That would be a case where there would likely be a duty to act found. Then, we need to investigate the surrounding factual scenarios to determine whether in the client’s specific circumstances their actions could be deemed or explained as reasonable or at the very least, not grossly negligent. Read More

PA Law Codes Defined

(a)  General rule.–A person is guilty of involuntary manslaughter when as a direct result of the doing of an unlawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, or the doing of a lawful act in a reckless or grossly negligent manner, he causes the death of another person.

Robbery

I’ve been Charged with Robbery…

In general terms, a Robbery in Pennsylvania is committed when there is some sort of force used while committing a theft.  The level of force can be next to nothing (force however slight), serious bodily injury caused or even just the threat of force. We will start by evaluating what legal and factual defenses you may have. With a robbery charge we are looking for two things – a way to negate an element of the offense, (for example showing that serious bodily injury was not inflicted) or a way to say it was not you who committed it (mistaken ID, suggestive lineup, alibi, etc.).

Because the crime of Robbery has within its elements a form of force/assault and a theft, there become many different and creative ways to potentially defend these matters. Eyewitnesses. Surveillance. DNA. Experts. All of these may be involved in Robbery cases. We will comb through the facts, the circumstances and the discovery that the prosecution provides and determine what will the best avenue to succeed in either negotiations or at trial. Read More

PA Law Codes Defined:

(a)  Offense defined.–

(1)  A person is guilty of robbery if, in the course of committing a theft, he:

(i)  inflicts serious bodily injury upon another;

(ii)  threatens another with or intentionally puts him in fear of immediate serious bodily injury;

(iii)  commits or threatens immediately to commit any felony of the first or second degree;

(iv)  inflicts bodily injury upon another or threatens another with or intentionally puts him in fear of immediate bodily injury;

(v)  physically takes or removes property from the person of another by force however slight; or

(vi)  takes or removes the money of a financial institution without the permission of the financial institution by making a demand of an employee of the financial institution orally or in writing with the intent to deprive the financial institution thereof.

Burglary

I’ve been Charged with Burglary…

Burglary occurs by unlawfully entering a location that you are not permitted to be in with the intent to commit a crime while you are inside. The main element that creates a burglary is that the intent to commit a crime must be formed PRIOR to entering without permission, not once inside. While all burglaries are serious, the punishment exposure elevates when someone burglarizes a home. The exposure is even greater when there is a person present during the intrusion.

While these matters can occur when people are in the business/home, it is very typical that these occur without any eyewitnesses. This means there may be built in defenses as to the identity of the actor. Even surveillance videos are often grainy, unclear and often taken at night, leaving the possibility of discrediting the contents and any identification from it. In addition, we will evaluate the element of intent. Looking for a way to show that there was no intent to commit a crime prior to entering the building/home. If we can negate the intent element we may have a valid defense to the charge at a preliminary hearing or trial. Finally, we will evaluate all relationships the residents/owners may have with you. If there was a prior or ongoing relationship of any kind, there is a possibility that we can argue that there was permission to be in the property. For example, one roommate says there was not permission, but another had given it to you. Read More

PA Law Codes Defined:

(a)  Offense defined.–A person commits the offense of burglary if, with the intent to commit a crime therein, the person:

(1)  (i)  enters a building or occupied structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof, that is adapted for overnight accommodations in which at the time of the offense any person is present and the person commits, attempts or threatens to commit a bodily injury crime therein;

(ii)  enters a building or occupied structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof that is adapted for overnight accommodations in which at the time of the offense any person is present;

(2)  enters a building or occupied structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof that is adapted for overnight accommodations in which at the time of the offense no person is present;

(3)  enters a building or occupied structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof that is not adapted for overnight accommodations in which at the time of the offense any person is present; or

(4)  enters a building or occupied structure, or separately secured or occupied portion thereof that is not adapted for overnight accommodations in which at the time of the offense no person is present.

Criminal Trespass

I’ve been Charged with Criminal Trespass…

Entering into a building or structure that you do not have permission to enter qualifies as Criminal Trespass in Pennsylvania. There is no requirement that another crime be committed while inside. The manner of entry will impact the way in which you are charged. If there is no force used to enter (as that will often be a sign of lack of permission) there may be defenses available to you. It is important to remember that the Commonwealth must prove lack of permission and/or notice of lack of permission in these cases.

We need to look at the property and area that was entered, we will investigate and go to the location to determine if there was proper notice that the property was not to be entered or that it was private. Often times properties are not clearly marked. Similarly, we need to determine if there was a prior or ongoing relationship of any kind with an owner or person in charge of the location/property. If there was, there is a possibility that we can argue that there was permission to be in the property. For example, one roommate says you did not have permission, but another had given it to you. The main element of a criminal trespass that we are attacking is permission to be where you are.

PA Law Codes Defined:

(a)  Buildings and occupied structures.–

(1)  A person commits an offense if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he:

(i)  enters, gains entry by subterfuge or surreptitiously remains in any building or occupied structure or separately secured or occupied portion thereof; or

(ii)  breaks into any building or occupied structure or separately secured or occupied portion thereof.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Pennsylvania, contact Mike DiCindio, Esq today at 610.220.4691!

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