Archive for December, 2010

Felony Charges Reduced to Misdemeanor Probation

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

My client was originally charged with burglary, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 3502 (Felony of 1st Degree), robbery, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 3701 (Felony of 2nd Degree), criminal trespass, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 3503 (Felony of 3rd Degree), terroristic threats, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 2706 (Misdemeanor of 1st Degree), and simple assault, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 2701 (Misdemeanor of 2nd Degree).  A preliminary hearing was held several months ago, at which time all the charges were held for court by the Magisterial District Judge in Reading Central Court.

As the case progressed, my client received an initial “plea deal” of 1.5 – 3 years in State Prison from the District Attorney’s Office, and he was facing significantly more time than that if he took the case to a trial.  Additionally, my client was employed full-time and provided support to his two (2) young children.  Under no circumstances could he afford to spend even one (1) day in jail.  Therefore, I filed a Omnibus Pre-trial Motion / Habeas Corpus Motion in the Berks County Court of Common Pleas seeking dismissal of all charges.

Although we were prepared to proceed with the hearing, my client was presented with a new “plea deal” on the day of the hearing.  The deal was for the charge of terroristic threats, which is a misdemeanor, and the sentence was a two (2) year period of probation.  The deal included no jail time, and my client avoided a felony conviction on his record.  He was very happy with the outcome of his case.

If you are facing criminal charges in Berks County, please contact my office as soon as possible to setup a no-cost consultation.  Never discuss your case with the police or anyone else prior to consulting with an attorney.

Not Guilty Verdict on Theft Charges in Reading, PA

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Today, a Berks County Judge found my client not guilty of three counts of theft by deception following the non-jury trial. The case involved allegations by the Commonwealth that my client was involved in a scheme to defraud a homeowner by accepting payment for work not performed. With three separate Felony 3 counts, my client was facing a maximum of 21 years in state prison. Thankfully, for his sake, the Judge’s verdict means that he will soon be a free man.

This decision confirms that the criminal justice system we enjoy in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States is fair and just. When an individual is charged with a crime it is the Commonwealth’s burden to prove that person to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. That means the Police and District Attorney’s Office, with their considerable financial resources and manpower must be held to account in a court of law. This burden of proof is vitally important to the freedom we all enjoy. It means that the government cannot pick and choose arbitrarily who they investigate and prosecute. Mere suspicion does not make a person guilty in this country. The fact that you have been charged with a crime does not make you guilty of a crime. This is a nation of laws. And, like today, it is nice to see that borne out on the most basic level in court.

Fighting Speeding Tickets in Berks County (Reading, PA)

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Many people wonder if they need an attorney to contest speeding or other traffic tickets. If you are serious about fighting it, then the answer is yes. Keep in mind, you will be going to court, appearing in front of a Judge and questioing a police officer on the witness stand. Additionally, depending on the outcome it may become necessary to file an appeal de novo to the Court of Common Pleas.

A speeding ticket, in particular, can have a negative impact on you driving privilege and cause an increase in your insurance rate. Accumulation of a certain number of points will cause your license to become suspended or trigger a departmental hearing. For a speeding ticket the number of points is dependant on how far over the limit the driver was operating the vehicle and is as follows:
6-10 2 points
11-15 3 points
16-25 4 points
26-30 5 points
31 and over 5 points and a departmental hearing

I recently had a case where a client had been caught speeding and faced 4 points on her license. I was unsuccessful at the District Court level getting the points reduced following a hearing in which the officer offered testimony concerning the timing device that was used and the his observation of my client’s vehicle. Unfortunately the area was a targeted enforcement area due to a tragic accident the previous year. For this reason, the officer was also unable to offer a deal or reduce the rate of speed.

In the end, I ended up filing a de novo appeal at which time I was able to negotiate a deal with the officer and the Assistant District Attorney for 5 mph over the speed limit. 5 over call for no points and no impact on my client’s operating privilege.

Individuals facing speeding tickets are clearly in a much better position if they retain an attorney to fight or negotiate for them. If you are facing a speeding ticket or other traffic ticket in Berks County, PA call our office for a free consultation.

Mandatory Jail Time Reduced to Court Costs & Fine

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

I recently represented a client who was charged with the traffic offense of Driving on a DUI Suspended License, 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1543(b).  If convicted, this offense carries a mandatory sentence of 60-90 days in Berks County Prison.  Additionally, PennDOT will actually tack on an additional 1-year license suspension for anyone convicted of this offense.

Although this is not technically a valid defense under Pennsylvania State Law, my client was genuinely unaware that his license was under suspension.  He had recently changed his address, and the license suspension information from PennDOT had not caught up with him at the time he was stopped.  Also, our client was extremely polite and respectful to the police officer when he was pulled over.  In the end, this undoubtedly helped our client get an excellent result in his case.

After showing up at the hearing and discussing the case with the police officer who issued the citation, we were able to reach an agreement whereby the 1543(b) charge would be withdrawn rather than litigated in the courtroom.  Instead, my client was issued a new citation for the summary offense of “disorderly conduct”, which carries no jail time and has no additional impact on my client’s license status.  The only penalty assessed against my client was a fine in addition to the court costs.

In the end, my client was extremely happy with the outcome of his case.  If you are facing mandatory jail time as a result of a traffic offense or traffic violation in Berks County or Reading, Pennsylvania, please contact my office to set-up a free consultation.

Jury Acquittal on Felony Drug Charges (PWI) in Berks County, PA

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Today, myself and my partner, Liz Ebner, won a not guilty verdict on a charge of Possession with Intent to Deliver Heroin in front of a jury in Berks County, PA.  Our client was facing a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison if convicted of the top charge.  Instead, he was convicted of the lesser charge of Possession, a misdemeanor.  The trial involved eight witnesses and stretched over two days in the Court of Common Pleas in Berks County.  The jury deliberated for over two hours following closing arguments by myself and the assistant district attorney.

Simple Assault charges dismissed at Preliminary Hearing

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Today a client of ours had a very favorable resolution to his pending criminal matter.  Several months ago a situation occurred at the home of client’s girlfriend which resulted in the police being called to the scene.  Charges of Simple Assault, Harassment, Criminal Tresspass, Public Drunkeness and Disorderly Conduct were filed against this young man who, prior to this, has no contact with the criminal justice system.  Thankfully, in the ensuing months the individuals involved in the matter repaired their relationships.  In the end, the Commonwealth witnesses did not want to testify and the charges were dismissed.

This type of situation is not uncommon in Berks County and throughout Pennsylvania.  What is important to realize, however, is that once the police have become involved and charges get filed, the matter will end up in court.  In other words, it is not up to the victim to “drop”  the charges.  In many cases, and for a variety of reasons, the police or the Assistant District Attorney will try to persuade the uncooperative witness to testify against the Defendant.  After all, that is part of their job.  At the Preliminary Hearing the only person that can truly decide whether the case is going forward is the District Judge.  

At a Preliminary Hearing a lot can happen that a Criminal Defendant does not expect.  That’s why it is important to retain the services of a Criminal Defense Attorney.  Even if you believe the Commonwealth witnesses won’t testify, you never know for sure.   Similarly, if you have been subpoenaed to testify by the Commonwealth and you do not want to testify you should also engage the services of an attorney to protect your rights.  We are currently accepting new clients in all criminal and family law matters – contact our office today for a free consultation.