When you’re charged with a crime, you can only hope that it will all just go away. The truth is there’s an actual possibility this could happen before ever going to trial. You’re thinking the only way to get things back to normal and move forward is if your felony charges are dropped or dismissed, and while this is true, you may not realize the different legal meanings the two words have. So what’s the difference between charges dismissed vs. dropped?
Meaning of Charges Dropped
When criminal charges are filed by a prosecutor, it’s because they believe they can prove their case. That doesn’t necessarily mean a judge or jury will agree with them, but they feel confident that their evidence is strong enough to convince others of their argument. If at any point throughout the process, even before the charges have been officially filed, the prosecutor or arresting officer feels their case is not strong enough to hold up in court, they are able to drop the charges all together. But only the prosecuting party is able to do so.
Other reasons felony charges may be dropped:
- The victim around who the case was built decides not to cooperate
- The attorney of the prosecuting party is responsible for multiple cases at the time, causing them to allocate their time and resources to other cases of high priority.
- The defendant is willing to cooperate with prosecutors to help resolve other crimes or in another situation that enables the attorney to work out a deal or get the charge dropped altogether
Meaning of Charges Dismissed
In a criminal case, the defendant is assumed innocent until proven guilty. This means that the prosecutors must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant in fact committed the crime. By choosing to move for dismissal, the defendant is arguing that the accusing party does not have enough evidence to meet this standard for the jury to find him guilty. The motion is then taken into the judge’s hands, and if he agrees, the case will be dismissed.
A case can also be dismissed if the prosecutor has made a fundamental or procedural legal error during the time of the arrest, booking, interrogating, etc. by the prosecuting party or the evidence was obtained unlawfully in any way. In either case, charges can only be dismissed by the court and only after charges have been filed. Working with a skilled defense attorney is your best chance to ensure the protection of your rights and get your case dismissed.
What about Reducing a Charge?
It’s also possible to have a charge reduced. This is typically an option if there’s not enough evidence to support the initial charge, but enough to convict the defendant of a lesser charge.
In this case, the prosecutor will agree to dismiss the original charge with the offer of a “plea bargain agreement,” which requires the defendant to plead guilty or no contest to the lesser charge.
If you’ve been charged with a crime, you’ll want a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney working to protect your rights and fight for the best outcome possible. With a number of reasons for cases to be dropped or dismissed, make sure you have the best team on your side to defend your freedom and reputation, so you can move on with your life.
For more information on how to get a case dropped or how to get a case dismissed, contact us to discuss your specific legal situation today.Read More
While some states would regard driving under the influence as a mere traffic violation, leaving the convicted with just a slap on the wrist, in Pennsylvania, you won’t be so lucky. With DUI penalties in PA considered a criminal offense, you’re looking at serious consequences for both first and second time convictions.
Choosing to drive under the influence not only puts you and others at risk on the road, but it puts you at risk of consequences you’ll suffer for years to come. However, sometimes these laws are overly prosecuted or unfairly charged, and you may not know what to expect in order to protect yourself. So here’s what you need to understand about the actual cost of a drink when it comes to a PA DUI.
General Information on DUI Charges in Pennsylvania
About 15 years ago, the legal limit of alcohol was lowered from .10 to .08 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. From this benchmark, there are three levels of a DUI.
- .08 to .099% BAC = General Impairment
- .10 to .159% BAC = High BAC
- .16% & up = Highest BAC
While these levels certainly impact the severity of a punishment, certain classifications may also play a role in your sentencing. Underage drivers, school vehicles and buses, commercial drivers, drivers who refuse a breathalyzer and drivers who cause injury or property damage to others could face harsher punishments under PA law.
Penalties for First Offense DUI in PA
General Impairment: Up to 6 months of probation and fines of approx. $300
High BAC: 48 hours to 6 months in jail and fines of $500- $5,000; license suspension for 12 months
Highest BAC: 72 hours to 6 months in jail and fines of $1,000- $5,000; license suspension for 12 months
If you’re experiencing a first-time DUI offense, you’re not typically looking at jail time, simply based on your BAC, but there are stipulations. If your BAC is higher than .099, jail time should now be a concern, while being under 21 years of age could mean up to 6 months of jail time, regardless of your BAC level.
Penalties for Second DUI in PA
While some may deem the punishments for a first-time offense as rather extreme, the ultimate goal is to prevent repeat offenders. If you’ve received a 2nd DUI in PA, you’re automatically facing jail time of 5 days to 5 years.
General Impairment: 5 days to 6 months in jail and fines of $300- $2,500; license suspension for 12 months
High BAC: 30 days to 6 months in jail and fines of $750- $5,000; license suspension for 12 months
Highest BAC: 90 days to 5 years in jail and fines of $1,500- $10,000; license suspension for 18 months
All BACs: Up to 150 hours of community service and ignition interlock device installed for 1 year; Enrollment in Alcohol Highway Safety School and an Alcohol and Drug treatment program
Whether you’ve been charged with a first or second offense DUI in Pennsylvania, there’s a lot at stake for your future, and it’s important to make sure you aren’t fighting the battle alone. As Philly’s DUI Lawyer, we’ll help you review all aspects of your case to protect your rights, ensure a fair hearing and help you move forward.
Contact us to set up a free consultation today.Read More
Questions: Do I have to take the Breathalyzer test in Pennsylvania?
Answer: You have the right to refuse, but doing so will leave you with a host of legal complications, including loss of driving privileges for one year.
At Brennan Law Offices in Philadelphia, we have over 25 years of experience defending people against charges of drunk driving.
A concept called “Implied consent” comes into play in DUI arrests in Pennsylvania. Implied consent means that if you are driving a vehicle on a Pennsylvania road, it is implied that you automatically consent to take the Breathalyzer test or blood alcohol test in the event you are arrested. If you refuse to take the test, you automatically lose your driver’s license for 12 months.
Refusing to take the Breathalyzer test is a legal issue played out in civil courts, as opposed to criminal courts. A knowledgeable defense lawyer can help you with the criminal defense aspects of a DUI arrest as well as the civil charges you will face for refusal. Our attorneys are equipped to help you fight back against criminal charges and make the strongest case possible for keeping your driver’s license.Read More
Pennsylvania authorities cited two men for drug charges on April 2 following a traffic stop in Perry Township. Local police said they seized various items, including marijuana, cash, drug paraphernalia and an as-yet unidentified white powdery substance. The alleged offenders were a 35-year-old man and a 21-year-old man.
The driver was accused of possession of marijuana, a minor misdemeanor, while the passenger was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia, also a minor misdemeanor. The paraphernalia in question was a glass pipe found in a shoe. Police were waiting on U.S. Route 62 for a tan van with three men inside and Pennsylvania license plates. A man in the area had reported that three men in such a van were purporting to sell home entertainment systems door to door that were actually empty boxes.
When police looked in the van, they saw that there was equipment in the boxes being sold, but also claimed to smell the odor of marijuana. After the driver and two passengers were asked to step outside the vehicle for a search, the drugs and paraphernalia were found. Authorities said that they found the items, including $700 in cash, in a backpack in a concealed compartment of the van. Only two of the three van occupants were charged.
People facing drug charges in Pennsylvania could be at risk of life-altering consequences, including costly fines, mandatory probation check-ins and even jail or prison time. Convictions can mean a loss of a license or even a job as well as a permanent criminal record.
However, a criminal defense lawyer can help an alleged offender. For example, legal counsel could challenge police actions such as improper or illegal searches.Read More
On April 17, a 29-year-old Pennsylvania man was taken into custody after police raided his Centre Township home and allegedly found drugs, firearms and an improvised explosive device, or IED. The raid took place at approximately 7:30 a.m.
According to a press release issued by authorities, officers from the Pennsylvania State Police and the Berks County Probation Office executed an arrest warrant at the defendant’s home on the 800 block of River Road in Mohrsville. They obtained the warrant because the probation office was informed the man was in possession of a gun. During the arrest, officers claim they saw drugs, two long guns and an IED sitting in plain view. The IED was reportedly 3 inches thick and around 10 inches long. Officers from the Hazardous Device and Explosive Section of the Pennsylvania State Police were called to the residence to dispose of the device.
The defendant is facing multiple charges, including drug possession with the intent to deliver, possession of prohibited offensive weapons and reckless endangerment. The investigation has not yet been completed.
Individuals facing drug charges can be subject to serious consequences. For example, defendants could be sentenced to lengthy prison terms and assessed steep fines if they are convicted. However, a defendant may be able to obtain a better outcome by working with a criminal defense attorney. An attorney may be able to investigate the case and build a defense against the allegations to get the charges dropped. Under certain circumstances, legal counsel might arrange for a defendant to complete a substance abuse program instead of going to prison.Read More
Breath tests are one way that the authorities determine if a driver or pedestrian is under the influence of alcohol. They are simple tests that require only a few deep breaths and for you to blow into the testing instrument.
A breath test isn’t always accurate, but, for the most part, they are and can be used in court. Given this, the results of such tests can play a significant part in DUI cases. Also, refusing to take a breath test could cost a person their driver’s license immediately.
So, there are some things it can be important to understand about breath tests.
4 facts about breath tests you need to know
- A breath test shows the total alcohol in your blood by testing the amount exhaled in your breath. That doesn’t mean that any test you have is going to be accurate. To start with, certain factors, like if you’ve had a drink recently or used mouthwash containing alcohol, could throw off the test. That’s why the officer should take two tests for verification. If the tests aren’t within .02 percent of one another, there could be a problem with the breathalyzer or how the test is being given.
- Another thing to keep in mind is that Breathalyzers have to be calibrated. One that hasn’t gone through calibration is likely not working appropriately and could give a poor reading. When your BAC is close to the legal limit, it is all the more important that the Breathalyzer is working accurately, since it could register too high otherwise and lead to a charge you don’t deserve.
- Breath tests aren’t the only evidence in DUI cases. Officers may collect other evidence, like roadside sobriety test results, to use against you in court as well.
- Breath tests aren’t always entered in court. As evidence, breath tests are risky at best. If they have a variance in readings, a person’s .07 percent BAC could come up as .08 or .09 percent, leading to charges the individual doesn’t deserve. Normally, a breath test is not the only evidence used, but it is used to help confirm an officer’s suspicions. It may in your best interests to try to get the results of the test thrown out when circumstance were present such being pulled over without cause or being given the test incorrectly.
With help, DUI charges can be fought. A breath test doesn’t guarantee a conviction for the authorities.Read More
A long struggle resulted when Pennsylvania State Police troopers encountered a man urinating on a running truck next to East Queen Street in Chambersburg. Court documents detailed the encounter that began when troopers questioned the 24-year-old that they described as stumbling with bloodshot eyes.
At first, the suspect walked away from the troopers before eventually stopping for them. He then put up a fight when they tried to handcuff him. A trooper used a stun gun on the suspect but it did not subdue him. According to their report, troopers spent several minutes wrestling him into submission.
Upon being taken into custody, the man told police that he had been driving the truck before he stopped to urinate on it. About 25 minutes after detaining him, the troopers took him to Chambersburg Hospital, where medical staff took a blood sample. The laboratory results showed that he had a blood alcohol concentration of .114 percent, which is over the legal limit for operating a vehicle. Authorities placed the man in Franklin County Jail and set his bail at $35,000.
An arrest that results in drunk driving charges could produce heavy fines, loss of a driver’s license and even jail time. A criminal defense attorney could guide an alleged offender through the criminal justice system and potentially provide defense. Legal counsel might be able to challenge the validity of evidence if mistakes occurred during the administration of a field sobriety test. Alternatively, an attorney might arrange for a plea deal that replaces jail time with an alcohol education program.Read More
One of the first studies to determine the rate of wrongful, non-murder convictions was recently conducted in Pennsylvania. The study found a slightly higher rate of mistaken convictions than in murder or capital crime cases.
The lead researcher, a criminologist from a Pennsylvania university, created the study to focus on crimes other than homicide and rape, which he believed to be covered in other research. Under his team’s methodology, he determined that that conviction rate of innocent defendants was approximately 6 percent as opposed to 3 to 5 percent for the murder or rape cases previously studied.
The methodology used in the study consisted of survey responses from approximately 3,000 inmates in the Pennsylvania corrections system. If respondents claimed they were not guilty of the crimes charged, they were required to expand on the answer. Responses were then compared against administrative records in the inmate’s case for inconsistencies and plausibility.
Though there was a fear that most inmates would either not respond or respond untruthfully, the study team found this was not the case. The response percentage was considered high. In terms of the truthfulness of the responses, the researchers found that more than 90 percent of those responding took at least partial responsibility for the crime in which they were convicted. Researchers see this as a start point on the issue rather than the end point.
Many people believe that few if any innocent people are convicted of a crime. However, criminal defense attorneys know otherwise. Those charged should never assume that a prosecutor is on his or her side or that the criminal justice will be infallible in the case. A competent defense for the criminally accused is vital to a properly working criminal justice system.Read More
Pennsylvania fans of radio personality Artie Lange may be interested in knowing more about the comedian’s unfolding drug case. Media sources report that Lange avoided jail time during a sentencing hearing in New Jersey on June 1. He had previously been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and a controlled dangerous substance in May 2017.
A law enforcement official initially pulled Lange’s Range Rover over on the Garden State Parkway for erratic driving. Reports indicate that the official observed a bag of heroin on Lange’s lap during the subsequent investigation.
Lange has been open regarding his history of drug use. He alerted his followers on Twitter of the impending hearing shortly before he arrived in court, expressing appreciation for the judge, his own attorney and the attorneys for the state. He indicated that he was hoping for a beneficial outcome.
In addition to attending an outpatient rehabilitation program, Lange was sentenced to four years probation and 50 hours of community service. Lange’s attorney commented that the sentence might allow his client to overcome his addictions while preserving his career.
Pennsylvania residents who are convicted on similar drug charges may be subject to serious consequences, including probation, prison time, loss of driving privileges and harsh fines. In some situations, a criminal defense attorney may be able to challenge the prosecution’s case and bring any potential deficiencies to light. From the first meeting with the client, the attorney could work to determine whether any constitutional rights had been violated and begin building a strong defense.Read More
In many places across the country, including Pennsylvania, legislation related to drunk driving has become stricter over the years. In 2003, Act 24 lowered the legal blood-alcohol content level from .10 to .08 and created a series of penalties that depend on the BAC level of the accused driver and their prior history with DUI charges. People in certain categories, including minors, truck drivers, school bus drivers or those involved in injury crashes, can be targeted for stricter enforcement.
The first and most basic level of drunk driving charges in Pennsylvania is general impairment. This is applied to those with .08 to .099 BAC levels. If the offender has not had a prior DUI offense, the charge is considered an ungraded misdemeanor. Nevertheless, the penalties can be significant — a $300 fine and up to six months probation. The penalties, as well as the grade of misdemeanor, rise for subsequent offenses, which may be accompanied by one-year license suspensions, jail time, ignition interlock installation and significantly more costly fines. For a third or later offense, an offender could face up to two years in prison.
The penalties also become stricter if the accused driver is stopped with a “High BAC” of .10 to .159. Offenders with a first-offense High BAC could receive a 12-month license suspension, a fine of up to $5,000 and up to six months in jail. Again, penalties increase for subsequent charges.
The penalties for drunk driving charges can have a major impact on an offender’s life. Jail time, costly fines and a criminal record can follow a person for years to come. However, a criminal defense lawyer can help an alleged DUI offender present a strong defense that may avoid a conviction.Read More