It’s not unusual two young adults or teens to become sexually active, but an adult molesting a child is reprehensible. A distinction between the two situations seems obvious, but in many states across the US, there’s a fine line legally between a mutual decision and abusive actions. In many cases, Romeo and Juliet Laws reduce or eliminate the penalty of statutory offenses. If you or someone you know have been accused of statutory sexual assault or rape, here’s a better understanding of Romeo and Juliet laws in Pennsylvania.
What are Romeo and Juliet Laws?
In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the epic love between two young protagonists has a tragic ending. But in our justice system, Romeo and Juliet laws were created as an exception to a serious criminal offense to help prevent a dreadful outcome for young star crossed lovers in real life.
By definition, Romeo and Juliet laws are provisions to statutory laws that pertain to individuals under the age of consent who engage in sexual intercourse when there is a minor age difference. Each state law has a specific age difference permitted, as well as its own determination of which criminal charges apply to each situation.
In order to understand these provisions, it’s important to understand the ground rules of statutory law. In Pennsylvania, the age of consent, or legal age in which an individual can agree to sexual intercourse, is 16 years old. Anyone under that age is considered a minor, while anyone 18 years of age or older is considered an adult is considered.
Statutory laws were created on the premise that minors are incapable of giving informed consent to sexual activities. Reversely, Romeo and Juliet laws were designed to protect the relationships of minors and adults who are less than four years apart. For example, a high school senior and a high school sophomore who are intimately involved bridge the age of consent but are safeguarded within a 3-year age gap. However, if the minor is under the age of 13, the older individual will be charged with statutory rape regardless of their age. So even a 14 year old who has a sexual relationship with 12 year old is in violation of this law.
What are the Penalties for Statutory Sexual Assault and Rape?
Penalties for Statutory Sexual Assault and Rape will vary based on the specific circumstances, but below is a general guideline of what to expect.
Statutory Rape- Sexual intercourse with a minor under 13 years old is considered a first degree felony and could involve up to a $25,000 fine, 40 years in prison, or both.
Statutory Sexual Assault- Sexual intercourse between an adult and a minor, ages 13-15, when:
- The defendant is between 4 and 10 years older than the victim (second degree felony)
- The defendant is at least 11 years older than the victim (first degree felony)
A first degree conviction can result in up to a $25,000 fine, 20 years of prison, or both.
When it comes to statutory offenses, there’s little distinction between an innocent relationship and a reprehensible crime. If you’re involved in a statutory sexual assault or rape conviction, it’s important you have an experienced sex offense attorney with a full understanding of Romeo and Juliet laws fighting for you. Contact our team of Philadelphia lawyers to schedule a consultation today.Read More
When the sentencing hearings of Bill Cosby or Larry Nassar occured, everyone saw the headlines. Through photos, videos and recordings, media coverage gave the country a closer look at this integral part of our criminal justice system. But there’s a lot more to know when you’re the one on trial. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, here’s what you can expect at a sentencing hearing in Pennsylvania.
What is a Sentencing Hearing?
When a defendant pleads guilty or is convicted of a crime, a sentence must be served. Sentencing in PA varies based on the crime committed and can be a confusing procedure. In most cases, the sentencing of a defendant is at the judge’s discretion. However, by state law, there are a number of mandatory minimum sentences that may also be involved.
A sentencing hearing takes place in an open court, just like a trial. The district attorney, defendant and defense counsel will all be present as the judge will review all the information of the case provides to determine the length and disposition of the defendant’s sentence.
What Happens at a Sentencing Hearing?
During a sentencing hearing, it’s the trial judge’s responsibility to sentence the convicted in accordance with the law of the state in which the crime was committed, but the judge does has a wide array of sentencing alternatives available in his decision. This could mean ordering a defendant to serve probation while on electronic home monitoring and paying restitution to a victim, or performing community service while enrolled in a drug or alcohol treatment program.
There may be certain restraints, however, as various crimes carry mandatory sentences, which must be fulfilled. These crimes may also have maximum sentences in which the judge cannot exceed. The degree of the crime will determine these restraints as stated below:
18 Pa.C.S.A. §1101 et seq.
|Felony 1st Degree||20 years||$25,000|
|Felony 2nd Degree||10 years||$25,000|
|Felony 3rd Degree/Felonyu*||7 years||$15,000|
|Misdemeanor 1st Degree||5 years||$10,000|
|Misdemeanor 2nd Degree||2 years||$5,000|
|Misdemeanor 3rd Degree/Misdemeanoru**||1 year||$2,500|
*Fu=F3; See 18 Pa.C.S.A. §106(b)(5)
**Mu=M3; See 18 Pa.C.S.A. §106(b)(9)
***Default Fine, 75 Pa.C.S.A. §6502(a)
Your sentencing guideline will be based on two things: 1. The seriousness of the offense (Offense Gravity Score) 2. Your prior criminal record (Prior Record Score).
While deciding what sentencing to impose, the judge will consult the sentencing guideline and review the pre-sentence report prepared by the probation officer. This contains background information on the defendant, such as criminal record, medical or psychiatric reports and any time spent in custody awaiting trial. The judge may also permit oral statements to be made in open court from the prosecutors, defense attorneys, victims and/or the defendant.
If a sentence has not already been set based on plea negotiations, the prosecution will further outline the facts of the case and highlight specific things that may make it more or less serious based on the impact it had on the victims. This may also include a Victim Personal Statement. The defense will then have a chance to respond with an explanation of the specific circumstances in an attempt to lessen the seriousness of the crime. Based on the information provided and shared throughout the hearing, the judge will decide on the defendant’s sentence.
How Long Does a Sentencing Hearing Take?
The actual sentencing of a case takes only a few minutes, especially if plea negotiations have been made prior to the hearing. Felony cases can even wrap up fairly quickly when the sentence has been predetermined as part of the plea bargain. But this isn’t always the case. For example, if the judge is legally authorized to order a more serious sentence and imprisonment, the prosecution and defense will take their turns arguing for or against the probation officer’s recommendations provided in the pre-sentencing report (as mentioned above).
How to Learn more…
If you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime, there still may be a chance to reduce your sentence and protect your future. For an experienced defense attorney who can provide the legal support you need throughout every step of the process, contact our team today.Read More
Being a convicted felon is a label that many will have to live with the rest of their lives. A criminal record is something potential employers, educational institutions and housing facilities all have access to, creating significant challenges in your future. But what if there was a way to have your record wiped clean? Well, there is. It’s a process called Expungement.
What Does it Mean to Get a Crime Expunged?
An expungement is a court ordered process in which an arrest or conviction is erased from a criminal record. Unlike a pardon in which the crime is forgiven but is still accessible to the public, getting a record expunged is as if the crime never happened in the first place. That means this information will not be attainable during employment background checks, housing and rental checks and other government investigations moving forward. While most crimes are not eligible for expungement, it could change the course of your future to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer find out.
Who Qualifies for Expungement in PA?
In all cases, there is several criteria to meet for a conviction to qualify for expungement. These include the following:
- You are 70 years or older and have had no arrests or prosecutions for 10 years after your release from prison or supervision.
- You have no arrests or prosecutions within 5 years of conviction or completion of probation, parole or incarceration for summary offense.
- The conviction must have been for a misdemeanor 2, misdemeanor 3, or upgraded misdemeanor offense.
- Criminal proceedings were either dismissed, the defendant was found not guilty or acquitted after the trial.
- Person was released before formal charges were filed.
- All required fines or restitution have been paid in full.
- All diversion programs, education programs, probation and community service requirements have been completed.
What is the Expungement Process?
Filing an application or petition is the first step to the expungement process. In Pennsylvania, this will include one of two different forms. For violations or infractions, use this form consistent with Criminal Procedure Code section 490. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, you’ll use this form pursuant to Criminal Procedure Code 790.
You’ll work with your state’s probation department to prepare a report including a number of documents and information about your case to be presented in court. After you file, a hearing will be scheduled before a judge who will decide whether or not to grant the expungement request.
The expungement rules in Pennsylvania can be complicated, so it’s best to have an experienced legal team on your side to make sure you know what’s required of you during the process. For more information or to find out if your criminal record is eligible for expungement, contact our Philadelphia lawyers today.Read More
The holidays are the most joyful time of year; however, all the good cheer, great food and gift giving may be a distraction from the risks the season can also bring. Break-ins, porch pirates and pickpockets are more popular than ever this time of year as the hustle and bustle of the holidays can leave us vulnerable to thieves. While theft, robbery and burglary are often used interchangeably, they’re actually very different offenses when defined by Pennsylvania Law. We’ll explain the differences between theft, robbery and burglary in Pennsylvania and the possible penalties they involve.
As one of the most commonly committed crimes in the country, theft is known by a number of different titles; larceny, petty theft, grand theft and more depending on various states. This crime is defined as taking someone else’s property without consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of its use or possession. Theft can be committed in a few different ways, including the use of deception, extortion or wrongfully carrying something away.
Theft can pertain to the taking of both tangible property, such as money, physical goods or other objects you can transport or move, or intangible property, including services, utilities or valuable information. Since theft does not involve interaction with the victim, it is almost always classified as a “property crime.”
While often referred to as “theft plus,” robbery is always a felony, or “violent crime,” due to an additional element that involves force, assault or the physical removal of property from another person. If at any time during the theft, the victim is threatened, in fear of harm, forced to remove the property, injured in any way, the crime is considered a robbery.
Each of these additional factors can impact the severity of the punishment. For example, if the robbery involves serious bodily harm to the victim, it’s considered a first degree felony which can be punishable by more than 10 years in prison. If there are no threats or harm as a result of taking the property, the crime is a third degree robbery with a maximum sentence of seven years prison time.
Other factors can also influence the conviction of the crime. When drugs or controlled substances are the goal of the robbery, it’s automatically a first degree offense, while the use of a gun during the robbery requires a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in jail.
The crime of burglary is closely related to that of robbery without the act or threat of harm to the victim. Instead, burglary specifically involves entering a building or piece of property with the intent to commit a crime inside. You can be convicted of burglary even without taking anything, since the crime focuses on the violation of someone else’s home or property based on the intent to commit another crime. And because of how this stature is specifically defined, a burglary crime may also include trespassing with the intent to commit murder, rape, theft, robbery or other offenses as well.
Burglary can be classified in the following ways:
– Object of the crime is to obtain drugs
– Building is a home or someone is present inside at the time of the crime
– The building entered is not a home and no one is present at the time of the crime
– A break in occurs without the intent to commit a crime inside (considered criminal trespass)
– A building is entered without break-in and without the intent to commit a crime (considered third degree criminal trespass)
Reversely, there are three primary defenses to burglary, which include if the building was abandoned, open to the public or the person was “licensed or privileged” to enter.
If you’re seeking legal advice about theft, robbery and burglary or want more information about the classifications and punishments of each crime in Pennsylvania, contact us to meet with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys today.Read More
With the joy and excitement of the holiday season also comes feelings of stress and irritability. With both the good or bad, these heightened emotions can cause people to act more rashly or take more risks than normal. While we all wish for a season that’s calm and bright, accidents and conflicts do happen, and November and December, we see an uptick in the number of crimes committed before the New Year. Here are some of the most common crimes around the holidays.
Theft and Burglary
Topping the list of crimes during the holidays is theft. While it may be the season to be grateful for the things we have, it’s also a time to celebrate getting new things. More than ever, we’re making big purchases and spending money on new electronics, appliances and other expensive items. This mentality makes delivery trucks full of packages all too appealing to burglars this time of year, while crowded malls make hurried and distracted shoppers easy targets.
The penalties for shoplifting and other types of burglary depend on the value of the items stolen. Even items less than $150 are a summary offense with up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fine. High-value items of over $2,000 are considered a third-degree felony which can land you 7 years in prison and a $15,000 fine; quite possibly costing you much more than the item you actually stole.
Far too often people forget about this very common holiday offense, which may be why every year more and more people are hurt, killed or convicted for DUIs. The holidays are a time of celebrating, so from office parties to cookie exchanges, the number of drunk drivers double during this season. A few sips of eggnog or mulled wine at a holiday party is enough reason to hand over the keys, and let someone else drive. In addition to the risk of hurting yourself and someone else, that drink can result in fines, license suspension, probation, and jail time, which is a sure way to ruin the holiday season for you and your family.
Online shopping continues to increase in popularity each year, and it’s reported that this year’s online holiday sales have already topped $123.73 billion. With so many people trusting their most personal information like credit card numbers, social security numbers, bank accounts and more, we’re more vulnerable than ever. It’s the unfortunate risk we take in exchange for the convenience of getting all of our holiday shopping complete without ever leaving the couch. And as our uses for technology increase, so do the ways in which hackers can make their move, so it’s no surprise credit card and identity theft could be more prevalent than ever this season.
Credit Card/Identity Theft
And while we speaking of identity theft, it’s important to note that technology isn’t the only cause to blame. Even in crowded malls and shopping centers, scammers are looking for any way to get ahead, including stealing personal information as people open their wallets and pocketbooks to purchase gifts or donate to charity. There are a number of ways in which credit card theft can happen, so shoppers should be alert at all times.
A first offense for identity theft in Pennsylvania can result in as many as 5 years in prison or a $10,000 fine, while the amount of money involved in the crime could increase the severity of the punishment even further.
The best part about online shopping is having your purchases delivered right to your door. So as online ordering increases, so do unattended packages left on porches all over the neighborhood. These deliveries make it all too easy for a specific type of burglar, known as a porch pirate, to steals recently delivered packages before owners can claim them.
If you find yourself on the wrong end of a crime this season, don’t let the accusations or sentence ruin your holiday. Contact our experienced defense lawyers to make sure you have the representation you need to prevent a wrongful conviction or harsh punishments you don’t deserve.Read More
Being arrested is one of the most stressful situations a person can experience. Not only is it an embarrassing process, but can also lead to an array of subsequent consequences in your work and personal life. And even if your charges are eventually dismissed due to insufficient evidence or a not guilty verdict, you may still not feel complete relief. Will these dismissed charges show up on my record and background checks? Will they affect my ability to get a job? Can I get them removed?
If you were arrested or charged of a crime, but didn’t end up getting convicted, you may be asking yourself these questions. As one of the best criminal defense attorneys in Philadelphia, we have your answers. Here’s what you need to know about the impact of a dismissed case on your criminal record.
The Making of a Criminal Record
When you’re arrested, the first record created and shared between police departments is the fact of your arrest. This information is most commonly known as a RAP sheet, or Record for Arrests and Prosecutions, and can show up on some background checks.
A criminal record is then created as soon as you are taken to court, noting information such as your arraignment, the charges and any other court appearances that follow. With the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney, you may be able to prevent a criminal record and any formal charges before your arraignment by working a deal with the prosecutor. As your best case, it’s essential that you contact an experienced defense attorney to act quickly.
If you do end up charged in court, you’ll still have a court record even if the case is later dismissed. This report will indicate that you were charged and taken to court, but were not convicted.
The Effects of a Dismissed Charge
The good news is that most employers will specifically phrase criminal history questions as “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” This is because a conviction is proof of quilt under Pennsylvania law. Even if you have been arrested or charge, a dismissal supports the fact that there was not enough evidence to prove you guilty of the crime, and many employers do recognize the difference.
To put it simply, the question of whether or not a dismissed charge will show up on a background check isn’t quite clear cut. Chances are both not guilty verdicts and dismissals will show up on your criminal record, but there is a difference between cases that become charges and appear in a criminal trial verses arrests that never lead to any formal charges. And of course, the effect this information will have on future job opportunities depends on the individual employer, so it’s best to be prepared on how to handle the conversation if it arises.
If your court case has already been dismissed and you want to see if you’re eligible for an expungement, or the removal of any past criminal charges from your record, our experienced defense attorneys can help get you the answers you need in just one phone call. Contact our law offices to discuss your specific case and take action today.Read More
When you’re convicted of a crime, probation is commonly part of the sentence. But the terms of probation are not one-size-fits all. And with the punishments for breaking probation being so severe in Pennsylvania, it’s crucial to have the most experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney helping you understand the specific conditions of your probation.
If you read our blog on probation violations, then you know that a probation sentence allows an offender to remain in the community under the state’s watch to ensure that the law and all the conditions of the sentence are met. While often available to first-time, nonviolent offenders, the types of Philadelphia probation vary based on the person’s background and the specific circumstances of the crime. Here’s a closer look at each type of probation placed on offenders in Pennsylvania.
- Informal Probation
Also known as unsupervised probation or court, this type of probation is available to low-risk offenders, and typically require you to simply pay your fines and not commit any violations of the law during the probation period. The judge will often order a suspended jail sentence as well, which you can avoid as long as you pay your fines and avoid any violations during your probation.
- Supervised Probation
When an offender is placed on supervised probation (or formal probation), they are required to periodically report to a probation officer- from weekly visits or monthly phone calls- while also following typically stricter conditions established by the court. Other provisions may include drug testing, counseling, community service and more, depending on the crime. If you fail to do so, you can be sent to jail almost immediately.
- Community Control
If you’re placed on community control, you’re essentially on a jail sentence without the prison. As the strictest form of probation, you’ll be monitored at all times, typically through the GPS of an ankle tracker while on house arrest. In this situation, the offender is not permitted to leave their home, while required to also meet any other specific requirements of their probation.
- Shock Probation
Shock probation came into prominence in the late 1990’s. First, offenders will be required to serve a short jail or prison sentence, typically around 30 days. This tactic to “shock” the offender into compliance with the probation terms. Upon being released, the judge will bring you back into the court to be placed on a standard supervised probation program for the remainder of your sentence.
- Intensive Supervision
Intensive supervision probation (or IPS), as the name suggests is a highly structured program involving rigorous supervision. Similar to house arrest, the offender must comply to the strict terms of their probation, but are not required to stay at home. Their sentence will typically involve at least 8-12 meetings with their probation officer each month, as well as face-to-face and telephone contact at all hours of the day, 7 days a week.
With the different types of probation in Pennsylvania with various conditions that can alter your entire lifestyle, it’s especially important to consult Philadelphia’s best criminal defense lawyers in regards to your specific situation. Our attorneys can help you understand all the terms of your probation and help you preserve your rights, so contact us today.Read More
thats the crazy pWhile most disorderly conduct charges are considered a summary offense (or the most minor type of criminal offense in Pennsylvania) it doesn’t make facing the penalty any less scary. If you or someone you know has been charged with disorderly conduct in PA, here’s everything you need to know to handle your situation and minimize the resulting consequences.
What Does Disorderly Conduct Mean?
Disorderly conduct is a criminal charge that doesn’t pertain to any one action in particular, but instead, a variety of actions that could be described as “unruly.” This means intentionally and/or recklessly causing a risk of public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm. And while Pennsylvania’s disorderly conduct law is not designed to punish just any action that causes irritation or annoyance to others, it is meant to protect the peace and civility of the community by covering a wide range of threatening or tumultuous behaviors.
Some of these behaviors and actions include:
- Violating noise ordinances
- Engaging in fighting or violent conduct
- Disturbing the peace
- Public drunkenness
- Obscene language or gestures
- Creating a physically hazardous condition that serves no licit purpose
Penalties for Disorderly Conduct
As a summary offense, a disorderly conduct sentence may include up to 90 days in jail, as well as a fee of up to $300. In most cases, a guilty individual will simply receive a citation or small fine. However, if the Commonwealth can prove that the defendant had the intent to cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience to the public, then it may be punishable as a misdemeanor of the third degree. These cases typically involve alcohol or public drunkenness, the serious harm or injury to another person or major property damage. As a misdemeanor charge, the individual may be looking at a maximum of 1 year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.
How to Fight Disorderly Conduct Charge
Since disorderly conduct law is so broad and can be interpreted quite differently, it’s important to take immediate action to develop the right strategy to minimize your sentence. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is required to prove every single element of the statute, so a typical strategy is to challenge the evidence which supports how these specific elements individually. For example, describing the “intent” or classifying the “substantial” and “serious” inconvenience. Another approach is disputing the “public” aspect of the crime. Considering the term “public” applies to a place in which a substantial group has access, there may be a chance for acquittal if this cannot specifically be supported.
Other possible defenses may include:
- Lack of intent
- Lack of knowledge that the individual was causing unfavorable conditions
- Self-defense against another’s threatening or violent actions
- Age (minor vs. adult)
- Provocation for the conduct
Disorderly conduct charges are primarily at the judge’s discretion, which is why additional aspects of the crime, such as being a first-time offense or even the location where the conduct occurred could be crucial to help reduce your charges if presented properly.
If you’re looking for an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the necessary steps to negotiating an alternative resolution for the reduction or dismissal of your disorderly conduct charge, contact the Bill Brennan Law offices today.Read More
Anyone who is arrested for a serious crime wants to imagine the best possible outcome if they’re convicted. But few actually know what factors are taken into consideration to determine a criminal sentence. Fortunately, Pennsylvania law requires judges to recognize various facts and situations unrelated to whether or not the defendant is actually guilty of a crime, but that could be grounds for a more lenient punishment.
Mitigating vs. Aggravating Factors
Judges are required to consider two types of factors while determining a convicted person’s criminal charges in PA: mitigating and aggravating. Mitigating factors include any evidence provided regarding the defendant’s character or the circumstances of the specific crime that could support leniency. In opposition, aggravating factors are any relevant circumstances that were presented throughout the trial which would warrant the harshest penalty appropriate.
While some circumstances simply don’t permit consideration, a good criminal defense attorney will present all the relevant facts of the case, no matter how small or minor they may be, as it is ultimately up to the judge to decide which factors will have an impact on the sentence. This may mean that very personal aspects of the defendant’s life will be revealed in court, but any admissible detail could affect the outcome.
What Mitigation Factors Can Help Reduce My Charges?
It’s up to the defendant and their criminal defense lawyer to provide convincing facts if they hope to achieve mitigation. This data is typically viewed in two categories: information about the offense and information about the offender.
Some of these mitigating factors include:
Role in the Crime
If the defendant played a relatively minor role in the crime, such as accepting compensation to transport illegal drugs verses engaging in drug trafficking in Philadelphia, this may be a mitigating factor.
Victim culpability refers to the participation or initiation of a crime. Whether someone started a fight in a domestic violence attack or reacted in defense with more force than necessary could impact the sentence.
A crime was committed while acting out due to emotional distress or substantial provocation is considered an unusual circumstance. This may include a DUI charge for choosing to drink and drive on the same day the defendant lost their job and broke up with their significant other.
Level of Harm
If no one was hurt as a result of the crime, this could also serve as a mitigating factor. An example being a carjacking was committed or property was stolen without harming the victim or anyone else in the process.
The motive of a crime may also be worthy of mitigation depending on the situation and relative facts. This would apply to a situation like a defendant stealing food from a grocery or convenience store in order to feel his starving family.
Drug or Alcohol Addiction
If drugs or alcohol were involved, it must have contributed to the crime, not just serve as a motive or excuse. The defendant would likely need to show a concerted effort in rehabilitation before a relapse resulted in the illegal action while under the influence for it to be a considerable factor.
There are a number of other mitigating factors that a judge will analyze during sentencing, which is why it’s so important to have the best criminal defense attorney to advise you on the exact information and circumstances that will reduce your charges and protect your future. Contact our experienced attorneys today to discuss your case through a free consultation.Read More
When you hear the term “harassment,” many people think of calling someone incessantly or using defamatory words. And while these certainly qualifies under the legal definition of harassment in PA, there are many more types of conduct that constitutes harassment which you may not realize. Or if you are aware and want to learn how to file harassment charges in PA, then you’ve also come to the right place. Here’s what you need to know about criminal harassment penalties and charges for your case.
In Pennsylvania, harassment is either considered a summary offense or a misdemeanor of the 3rd degree, depending on the conduct that occurred. While both classifications are considered minor criminal acts (summary offenses being less serious than a misdemeanor), it certainly does not negate the emotional impact the situation may have on a victim or even the accused.
What are the harassment laws in PA?
The first component of a harassment charge in Pennsylvania is proving that something was said or communicated. While in the past, this was based on verbal communication and phone conversations, today’s use of technology have led many statutes to now cover email, social media sites, texts and other telecommunications as well.
Secondly, the communication must provide evidence of intent to harass, annoy, torment or embarrass the victim. Each state provides examples of what may constitute as harassment under the law. In Pennsylvania, the following are sufficient for a misdemeanor conviction:
- Engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which serve no legitimate purpose
- Communicating to or about such other person any lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings or caricatures
- Communicating repeatedly in an anonymous manner
- Communicates repeatedly at extremely inconvenient hours
While the first example could possibly be graded as a summary offense depending on the extent of the situation, the following are explicit examples of a summary offense:
- Violent striking, hitting or kicking of a person, or threatens to do the same
- Following the other person in or about a public place or places
It’s important to note that this list is not all-inclusive. Threatening physical harm, making obscene proposals, stalking or any unwanted, repeated communication or actions all fall under the PA crimes code for harassment and could result in criminal harassment penalties.
And while some phrases like “I’m going to kill you” or “Do this or else” are used more casually today than they were in the past, they can be interpreted in different ways based on the intent and context of the comment. During a friendly soccer game where no other comments were made is one thing, while in the parking lot during a one-on-one confrontation after the game is another. In either situation, the state would have to present evidence that the comment was meant to harass ror alarm the victim and was likely to do so.
Punishment for harassment in PA
While most summary offenses do not result in jail time, not all misdemeanor charges do do either. However, if the judge finds the behavior particularly hateful or there is an existing criminal record involved, it is possible. Even so, the collateral damage of a charge on your record is more commonly the outcome. They can negatively impact your ability to secure employment, professional certifications, financial aid or legal immigration status.
If you’ve been charged, it’s vital that you speak to our experienced criminal lawyers in Philadelphia to determine and achieve the best possible outcome for you.
How to file harassment charges in PA
The first step is to call your local police, and let them know you would like to file a report for harassment. You can provide them with any text messages, emails or other evidence you may have. Some police departments will allow you to file a report through their website, but you should follow up in-person or over the phone as well.
If you have been a victim of harassment or are on the receiving end of false allegations, it’s imperative to have experienced criminal defense attorneys to help you through the legal process and get you the justice you deserve. Contact us to speak to one of our knowledgeable lawyers about your case today.Read More