There are a number of things that can affect your legal proceedings. This includes prior convictions. There are several ways that prior convictions can affect your legal proceedings.
Prior to the Trial
Your prior convictions can impact your case long before it even goes to trial. The officers can look at your record and see the prior convictions. Even if you have had your record expunged, your officer may still be able to see this. If this is your second or third time committing a crime, then you could possibly be charged with a felony.
It is a good idea for you to contact one of the local criminal lawyers if you have been charged with a crime. The prosecutors already try to come down hard on people. However, if you have prior convictions, then they will try to come down on you even harder. Prosecutors argue that people who have prior convictions are a threat to the public because they are likely to commit the same crime again.
Your prior criminal history is something that may be brought up during the trial. However, not every prior conviction can be used in court. Most judges will only allow prior convictions to be brought up if the crime occurred within the past 10 years.
Prior convictions often explain why two people can be charged with the exact same crime, but one gets a much longer sentence than the other. Not only will you face a longer time in jail, but there is also collateral damage that can come from this.
For example, if you are charged with a new crime and have prior convictions, then you may lose your eligibility for public assistance. You may also not be able to vote or possess a firearm. Furthermore, it may be harder for you to get a job. Your entire life can change for the worse.
What Do I Need to Do If I Am Facing New Criminal Charges And Have Prior Convictions?
The stakes are high if you have prior convictions and are facing new criminal charges. You need someone who can offer experienced and aggressive legal defense for you. Criminal law attorneys in Philadelphia will fight hard for you. They believe that everyone is innocent until they have been proven guilty in the court of law. Your attorneys will make sure that you are defended to the fullest extent possible.Read More
If you have been charged with the wrong crime, then it is a good idea for you to contact a criminal law defense attorney. Your attorney can defend you in court. There are also several things that you can do in order to help your attorney.
Avoid Incriminating Yourself
It is not a good idea for you to argue with law enforcement about the accuracy of the charges. If you do this, then you will be incriminating yourself. The law enforcement officer will charge you with the crime that they think that committed, and they will be given to the state prosecutor.
You Can Argue for a Lesser Charge
Many people are arrested for what they think is a minor crime and then later find out that they have been charged with a more serious crime. For example, you are caught with a small amount of an illegal substance. This type of crime is typically charged as a misdemeanor. However, you could be charged with a felony.
Your criminal defense attorney in Doylestown, PA can argue for a lesser charge. They can prove that there is not enough evidence to prove that you should be charged with a more serious crime. Everyone wants to get their case dismissed, but this may not be a realistic option. That is why your attorney will likely argue for a lesser charge.
You Can Argue That It Is Not a Felony
Prosecutors and judges can reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. They can argue that the actions were not serious enough to constitute a felony. Drug charges, assault and theft are examples of crimes that can be reduced from felonies to misdemeanors. They are considered wobblers. This means that the judge or prosecutor can determine whether they are a misdemeanor or a felony.
You Can Claim That There Is A Clerical Error
Your criminal charges may be the result of a clerical error. If there are clerical mistakes, then there is a possibility that you will get your charges dropped. A competent attorney can help you get your case acquitted or dismissed.
You Can Say That It Wasn’t You
If you have been charged for a crime that you did not commit at all, then you and your attorney will have to prove that it wasn’t you. The attorney can prove that you were somewhere else at the time the crime was committed.Read More
Gathering evidence and solving crimes can be a complex process. Therefore, law enforcement agencies often have numerous tools at their disposal. However, in many cases, such tools must be used by procedure and law.
One such mechanism a criminal lawyer urges you to familiarize yourself with is known as a search warrant.
Search Warrant Overview
A search warrant is a legally-binding document authorizing the obtaining authorities to conduct a thorough search of a specific residence or commercial property. Warrants are most commonly associated with drug seizures. However, they may be employed to search for evidence of other high-profile criminal offenses.
The Process Of Obtaining A Search Warrant
In Pennsylvania, gathering a warrant requires the completion of several critical steps.
First, the law enforcement agency in question must petition a court of law using a legal instrument called an affidavit. Contained in this written statement is a plea to the presiding judge explaining the reasons the warrant should be granted.
Police must also demonstrate probable cause. This means the entity in question has enough evidence to rightfully assume a crime is being committed and a warrant will help gather the proof needed to confirm their suspicions.
Moreover, if the evidence in question was provided by a police informant, judges must employ the following criteria to determine if said subject’s testimony is credible, previous reliable testimony, the individual’s story is confirmed by another party, the information given was not offered to suit their interest, and if the alleged perpetrator’s reputation supports the informant’s claims.
The Execution Process
Should a law enforcement agency be granted a warrant, execution is also subject to certain mandates.
First, warrant-possessing police units must knock on the door of your home or business, declare they are the police and show the warrant.
That said, authorities might have the legal right to forcefully enter the construction in question provided you fail to respond after a reasonable amount of time has elapsed, you know the reason the authorities are there before their arrival, obvious safety concerns are present, or police believe you are deliberately eliminating evidence.
Additionally, warrants must be performed between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Warrants can be executed outside this timeframe. However, the desiring authorities must clearly demonstrate to a judge why the process should be executed during late evening or early morning hours.
Furthermore, the warrant must be signed and dated by the issuing judge, identify the property in question, name the people and specific property to be searched, and disclose the timeframe within which the search must occur.
If you were subject to a search that did not meet these criteria, you may have a case against the executing authorities. In such instances, you are urged to consult with a defense attorney in Philadelphia like those employed at our firm the Brennan Law Offices.
To learn more about us, please visit https://www.philadelphiacriminallaw.com/.Read More
It goes without saying that police officers are supposed to be the good guys. Most people picture loyal civil servants that are not paid especially well but ready to potentially put their life on the line in a dangerous situation to protect and serve others. This rosy picture of the profession is nice and all, but the reality is that police officers are people, and there are going to be ones that fall short of society’s expectations for what is often portrayed as heroic figures.
So, what if you feel like a police officer particularly has it in for you and is openly targeting you? It happens, and it can be a real problem for you because the police officer often has the upper hand in more ways than one. After all, the officer seemingly has the law on his or her side. Then, there is the unfortunate fact that in a war of words, the police officer may be more likely to be believed. After all, if you go to the police complaining that the police are harassing you, there are some serious conflicts of interest there. When you’ve pursued these ordinary channels with no results, it may be time to turn to a Philadelphia criminal lawyer to protect as you fight the powers-that-be.
You are taking on an institution in this case, and the last thing you want is for more members of the police fraternity to get it in for you because they think you are not telling the truth or trying to get one of their brotherhood in trouble. Go on the defensive and offensive at the same time by finding a criminal lawyer. They will have the experience and knowledge to take on the police department itself and make sure that not only are you safe from harm but that you also have an opportunity for possible compensation for the stress of the situation you have been dealing with.
The police are supposed to protect you, but we have to face the facts as a society that not every police officer lives up to their oath of service. If you believe that you are the target of unwarranted harassment at the hands of the local police, it’s probably in your best interest to make sure you have good representation lined up before you try to take them on. This is not a matter to take lightly.Read More
What is Contempt of Court?
Contempt of court is defiance or disrespect of a judge or court. To control their courtrooms and compel people to obey court orders, judges are given the prerogative to jail people who defy them.
Contempt of court charges are not like ordinary criminal charges. The judge who imposes them does not have to prove anything, and you have no right to a trial by jury. The judge has the sole right to find you in contempt.
On the other hand, the judge has to offer you a reasonable way out. If you comply with the court’s orders, you can be released. If you don’t, then you can stay in jail for as long as you can be stubborn.
In United States law, contempt of court can be considered either direct or indirect.
Direct Contempt of Court
Direct contempt of court occurs when you behave in a disorderly way inside the courtroom. Generally, this involves impeding the process of a trial, disobeying the orders of a judge, or being rude to a judge. The purpose of this power is to keep people from disrupting the legal process. A judge will usually warn you that your behavior runs the risk of incurring contempt charges, and give you the chance to correct your behavior. If you persist, you may be jailed until you apologize and promise to follow the judge’s rules in the courtroom.
Indirect Contempt of Court
Indirect contempt involves failure to comply with a court order. When a legal order demands that you perform or refrain from certain actions, and you violate that order, you are in indirect contempt of court. In failing to obey a legal order, you have broken the law, and can be jailed until you return to compliance.
Many cases of indirect contempt arise from violations of restraining orders. Perhaps the most common cause is failure to abide by a divorce agreement. If you don’t pay alimony and child support as ordered by the court, or if you don’t abide by the custody agreement, you could be found in contempt of court.
What to Do if You’re Facing Contempt of Court Charges
Contempt of court charges can be very difficult for you to deal with alone. If you’re facing these charges, you need the services of our criminal lawyers. The Philadelphia criminal defense attorney firm, Brennan Law Offices offers the services you need to deal with contempt of court charges.Read More
False imprisonment is when a legal entity deliberately restrains another entity’s freedom of movement without any legal authority or justification whatsoever. A prime example of a false imprisonment situation is the “gun to the head” trope; if someone is holding a gun to your head, demanding you to do something or face the consequence of death, they are limiting your freedom of movement without legal authority. False imprisonment can be a criminal or civil issue and it is important to have a criminal defense attorney ready to help.
Three components must be demonstrated for a civil lawsuit to claim false imprisonment: the detention must have been deliberate; it must have been without consent; it must have been unlawful. These three principles must be proven either beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal case, or more likely than not based on a preponderance of the evidence in a civil one.
There are counters to false imprisonment claims. One of these is voluntary consent. This is the most obvious one, being the assertion that the plaintiff did consent. Another defense is police privilege. In the case of law enforcement false imprisonment cases, the police can claim probable cause as a defense. Probable cause is the privilege that law enforcement officials have where they may bypass certain legal steps such as obtaining a warrant or securing legal authority to imprison someone if they have sufficient reason to believe a subject has engaged in wrongdoing.
When it comes to criminal differences, false imprisonment and kidnapping may seem like more or less identical crimes. Kidnapping involves maneuvering an individual away from a set location and to a new place against their will. The operative phrase in this definition is “new place.” False imprisonment involves unfairly tying an individual down to their current location rather than moving them to a separate one. While state laws are different, both false imprisonment and kidnapping may become serious criminal charges and require criminal attorneys.
If you believe or have been notified that you are involved in a criminal false imprisonment case, there are options. Contacting our criminal attornies, if you’re living in the Philadelphia metro area, is a necessity. When pursuing a criminal defense attorney, it is vital to know the specific claims and defenses of the false imprisonment charge levied against you, and how to deal with them. Be honest with your attorney, and don’t forget to call for help in sticky legal situations like these.Read More
The American judicial system allows everyday citizens to determine the fates of their fellow peers standing on trial for civil or criminal offenses. Individuals chosen for such a responsibility serve on ruling entities known as juries.
William Brennan, a Philadelphia criminal lawyer, wants prospective clients and informed parties to realize jury selection is subject to a specific process.
Juries can be called upon to hear civil cases like slip and fall accidents, major criminal procedures involving individuals facing murder charges, and everything in between.
In criminal cases, these adjudicating entities usually have 12 members. However, in civil proceedings, jury membership can be as few as six and as large as 12.
To qualify as a juror, you must be at least 18, reside in the county for which you receive a summons, be literate, and not have been convicted of a crime punishable with incarceration for no less than one year.
If selected, your mandates will be to carefully listen to a case’s facts, review said information without prejudice, conduct no independent research or investigation, not be swayed by public opinion or media reporting, and ultimately render a ruling based upon your convictions.
The Selection Process
Courts obtain the names of potential jurors from sources such as motor vehicle records and voter registration databases.
If you are chosen for jury duty, the court in question will send you an official correspondence called a summons. This document contains pertinent information including the court’s address, your juror number, and the date and time when you are to either report in person or call a hotline to find out if your number is called.
An important aspect of selecting a jury is the identification of candidates who possess the capacity to be impartial and not be influenced by underlying beliefs. Those participating in trials like judges or attorneys might weed out those incapable of executing such duties in a process known as voir dire.
During this proceeding, you will be asked specific questions designed to measure your impartiality. Should you demonstrate any level of partiality, prejudice, or particularly strong views, you might be excluded from consideration.
If chosen, you will be assigned to a trial. Typically, both civil and criminal proceedings do not last longer than several days. However, more complex cases might necessitate more extended commitments.
Moreover, jurors serving on trials are usually allowed to return home following the completion of each day’s happenings. Sequestering does occur. However, this usually only occurs during high-profile criminal trials.
If you have questions about the jury selection process and require the services of a criminal defense attorney, please reach out to us. Additional information about our firm, the cases we handle, and the triumphs we have attained can be found by visiting https://www.philadelphiacriminallaw.com/.Read More
You might believe criminal activities are perpetrated by one or a handful of malfeasance. However, other subjects known as accomplices could also play a significant role in executing such acts.
William Brennan, a criminal defense attorney in Doylestown, PA, stresses that a legal concept known as accomplice liability is a major offense that could carry serious penalties.
The Definition Of An Accomplice
Pennsylvania law enforcement agencies might charge you as an accomplice if said organizations possess evidence suggesting that your actions enabled another party to commit a criminal act.
State law places accomplices into three categories, criminal solicitation, criminal facilitation, and criminal masterminding.
This act occurs when you solicit another party to commit some type of criminal offense.
You facilitate a crime by aiding the primary perpetrator’s aims. A solid example of a facilitator is the getaway driver for a bank robber. Said subject’s actions facilitate successful completion of this offensive behavior.
Masterminds might not participate in the actual act but play a discernible role in planning said endeavors.
What If You Are Charged With Accomplice Liability?
If you are charged with accomplice liability, you are firmly urged to consult with an experienced criminal justice lawyer. From the time you retain the services of said legal personality, they can serve as your advocate and shepherd you through this often confusing and complex process.
The first thing you and your attorney will need to learn is the reasons you were charged as an accomplice and the potential penalties you could face if convicted. From there, the defendant and attorney can review the facts and potentially formulate a suitable defense.
It is difficult to pinpoint specific punishments. Several factors will play into the specific punishment a ruling body may levy such as your criminal history, the nature of the crime if violence occurred or weapons were used, and how specifically complicit you were in executing the offense in question.
Regardless, however, said accusations are serious and could have significant potential freedom-inhibiting consequences.
Accomplice liability is not always a cut and dried matter. Astute criminal defense lawyers might employ any one of the following counterarguments:
In certain instances, an accomplice’s involvement might be instituted against their will. For example, while attempting to flee, an alleged perpetrator threatens you at gunpoint to drive them away from the crime scene.
Under these circumstances, your participation would have occurred under duress and you only compiled fearing physical harm or death if you refused.
No Crime Was Committed
An actual crime must have occurred for you to be charged with accomplice liability.
Attempted Crime Prevention Or Warning
The law might look favorably on you if you either attempt to prevent a crime from occurring or give adequate warning to law enforcement officials that such acts are scheduled to take place.
Contacting The Brennan Law Offices
If you reside in the Philadelphia suburbs and have been formally charged with accomplice liability, your first call should be to us.
Bill Brennan and his staff have extensive experience handling such cases. We can review your circumstances and might be able to draft a favorable argument. To learn more about us, please visit our website.Read More
When you’re facing an arrest, understandably, you want to have the charges lessened or dropped. This can be used against you, however, and police may use that to cause you to act out of desperation. If they’re trying to make a bargain of some kind, never take their words at face value.
Cops are not legally obligated to tell the truth. The nature of their job incentivizes them to make an arrest, not find the guilty party on the first try. In other words, they can offer a deal to drop charges if you give them information, only to later use it against you. It’s a form of self-incrimination they can indirectly encourage.
Technically speaking, police officers aren’t the ones who make or drop charges. The district attorney, attorney general, or local government office are responsible for this. If police want to arrest you for a specific charge but say they won’t unless you cooperate, after which you do, you may have given them reason to genuinely pursue charges and have something to back it up. And even if the police did have the authority to make or drop charges, a higher office like a district attorney or the attorney general could override that if they felt it necessary. The same is true of the prosecution; even if the arresting officer would agree to the charges being dropped the prosecuting party must agree for it to happen.
Now you may be wondering when and how charges are dropped. Sometimes the victim will ask the charges to be dropped but the prosecution is not obligated to honor that request. If it can be proven that the defendant’s rights are violated at any time, such as an unlawful search and seizure or failure to adhere to the strict criminal procedures during the arrest or pretrial activities, the prosecution can be convinced to drop the case. You will need a skilled criminal attorney in Philadelphia on your side if you are hoping to have this happen. If you are willing to cooperate with the arresting officer the prosecution can consider this, and they may work out a deal with your attorney to lessen or completely drop charges, but this is never a guarantee and it shouldn’t be an incentive to cooperate with the police.
Hire a Defense Attorney
The only way you can hope to have your charges dropped is by hiring a competent defense attorney. At Brennan Law Offices we will work to ensure that you are charged as fairly as possible. If you’ve been charged with a crime contact our office today. We’re on your side from beginning to end.Read More
As you’re preparing to go to trial there are many unknowns and uncertainties you may be wondering about. One of those things is probably who will be called to testify against you. There are three main categories of witnesses, and understanding what they are and what purpose their testimony serves can give you a better idea of what to expect in court.
A lay witness, also often called an ‘eyewitness’, is the most common type of witness in a trial. If there are multiple witnesses to an event, lawyers will look for consistent elements in their accounts. These consistencies are used to put together a more complete picture of the events that took place. The testimony of a lay witness is sometimes unreliable, though it is generally assumed to be better than circumstantial evidence. Circumstantial evidence is evidence that doesn’t prove a key fact, but the fact it does prove can be used to infer information about a key fact.
An expert witness is someone who specializes in a certain field or area of knowledge, and their expertise is needed in a case. We often think of forensic experts explaining blood splatters and medical practitioners when talking about an expert witness, but expert witnesses can be used in just about any legal dispute or court case. When items malfunction and cause harm, engineers can be called in as an expert witnesses to describe problems with the manufacturing, and accountants can be used in divorce cases to determine if spouses were hiding assets.
A character witness is someone that knows either the victim, the defendant, or other people directly involved in the case. As the name implies they aren’t witnesses to any event but rather the ‘character’ of the victim or defendant, and a character witness testimony is used to better understand their personality and habits. This can include neighbors, friends, family members, and clergy members. The state of Pennsylvania acknowledges spousal privilege which means that the court can’t force spouses to testify against one another with a few exceptions, such as spouses involved in a tax evasion scheme together.
Build Your Case
These witnesses aren’t called just to make the defendant look as bad as possible, they’re called to get the truth. As some of the best criminal defense lawyers in Philadelphia, we understand the importance of having witnesses who will give the jury a better understanding of who you are, not the crime you are accused of committing. If you need criminal defense then don’t hesitate, contact Brennan Law Offices today.Read More