Archive for February, 2011

Client Avoids Automatic Departmental Hearing in Speeding Case

Friday, February 18th, 2011

This week I represented a man charged with violating the PA Vehicle Code at Section 3362(c)(1)(i) – Excessive Speed in a 65 mph zone. In this case my client was charged with topping out at 112 mph, placing his violation in the highest tier or more than 31 mph over under Section 1535. This is significant since such a violation triggers a mandatory departmental hearing with PENNDOT. Additionally, such a violation would result in 5 points on his license.
In this particular case I was able to negotiate with the state trooper who had stopped my client on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I had previously advised my client to participate in a voluntary safe driving program to show initiative to the court. This participation, coupled with my client’s work history and lack of significant driving record helped my negotiation to be a successful one. In the end we pled to an amended citation of 15 mph over and as a result my client only suffered 3 points on his license. No departmental hearing, no suspension.

Our law firm regularly obtains favorable outcomes for individuals charged with violations of the vehicle code or other driver’s license issues. If you are facing a speeding ticket or traffic citation in Berks County, PA or Southeastern Pennsylvania please do not hesitate to contact our office for a free consulation.

Getting an Expungement in Berks County

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

I (Attorney Ryan McAllister) recently represented a client who wanted to have his arrest record expunged.  Years ago, my client was arrested, jailed, and charged with several serious felony counts, including robbery, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 3701, and burglary, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 3502(a).  This was actually a bizarre case of mistaken identity, and the district attorney’s office actually withdrew all of the charges against my client several weeks after they were initially filed.

Nevertheless, my client still had a record of this arrest, along with a long list of the serious felony charges.

As my client advanced in his career, he became increasingly worried that evidence of this arrest record could have a negative impact on his life.  Therefore, I prepared a legal Petition to Expunge my client’s criminal arrest record, which I filed in the Berks County Court of Common Pleas.  Not long thereafter, I received notice from the District Attorney’s Office that they would not oppose the granting of my Petition.  Additionally, I was able to have the Judge grant the Expungement without my client ever having to appear in Court.

I recently received notification from the Berks Count Clerk of Courts Office that the Expungement Order was filed and served on the appropriate government agencies, which will ultimately result in any evidence of this past event being erased from my client’s record.  My client no longer has to worry about this unfortunate event from his past effecting his future.

If you or someone you know has a criminal arrest record in Berks County or Reading, Pennsylvania, please contact my office to setup a consultation.  I would be happy to discuss the options for expunging a criminal arrest record.  Additionally, in most cases, I charge a reasonable flat fee, so there is no worry about excessive hourly charges adding up.

Client Not Guilty on Driving Under Suspension Citation

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Last week, I (Attorney Ryan McAllister) represented a client charged with 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1543(a), driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked, and 75 Pa.C.S.A. 3112(a)(3)(ii), traffic control signals.  My client was facing a one-year suspension of her driving privileges if she was convicted of 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1543(a), as well as three (3) points on her driving record if she was convicted of 75 Pa.C.S.A. 3112(a)(3)(ii).  My client works full-time and has a significant commute to her job; therefore, she could not afford any convictions that would negatively impact her driving privileges.

After being retained by my client, I ordered a copy of her full-driving record from PennDOT.  Upon examining her driving record, it was apparent to me that the reason for my client being charged with “driving while operating privilege is suspended or revoked” was primarily due to a prior paperwork misunderstanding between PennDOT and my client.  It seems that my client initially had her license suspended by PennDOT due to a previous conviction for a traffic citation.  My client filed a pro se appeal in that case, which temporarily stayed the suspension of her driving privileges for a period of six (6) months.  However, under current Pennsylvania state law, PennDOT re-instated the suspension of my client’s driving privileges after the six (6) months had gone by, even though my client’s appeal was still pending.  It was clear that my client was not aware her driving privileges were supsended

Therefore, on the day of the trial, I presented the complicated driving history to the officer who had issued the citations to my client.  After presenting the situation to the Judge, I was able to secure a not guilty verdict on the citation for 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1543(a), which saved my client from an additional one-year suspension of her driving privileges.  Also, the officer was willing to amend the remaining citation, 75 Pa.C.S.A. 3112(a)(3(ii), to 75 Pa.C.S.A. 3111(a), traffic control signals, which carries zero (0) points.

Initially, my client was facing a one-year suspension of her driving privileges and three (3) points on her driving record, not to mention nearly a thousand dollars in mandatory fines and court costs.  In the end, however, my client only convicted of one (1) minor traffic violation and sentenced to pay fines and costs totaling $117.50.  She received no license suspension and no points on her driving record.

If you have a traffic case in Berks County, Pennsylvania, or Reading, Pennsylvania, please contact the office at 610-372-5128 to setup a free consultation.  I (Attorney Ryan McAllister) will be happy to meet with you and discuss possible defenses to your case.

No License Suspension in Underage Drinking Case

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Last week I represented a Kutztown University Student charged with Underage Drinking, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 6308(a), and Public Drunkeness, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 5505, both summary offenses.  Although these citations only carry fines with no real risk of jail time, a conviction for Underage Drinking will result in a PennDOT license suspension of 90 days for a first offense.  My client was in a position where he could not afford to lose his license.

Unfortunately, there was no disputing the fact that my client was under the age of 21 and drinking / intoxicated.  Therefore, I explained to my client that the best bet would be to work out some type of plea with the officer.

Therefore, on the day of the trial, I approached the police officer who had issued the citations to my client.  I explained my client’s situation to the officer, and I also showed the officer some documentation to demonstrate that my client had attended some counseling sessions since the Underage Drinking incident had taken place.  Although there was little to no actual legal defense to the citations that were issued to my client, the officer was willing to amend the Underage Drinking citation to a local Kutztown Borough Ordinance, which carries no license suspension from PennDOT.

Additionally, the Magisterial District Judge allowed my client, the officer, and me to make some comments prior to determining the amounts of the fines in the case.  I was able to speak to my client’s volunteer efforts as well as his goals for the future, and the officer was able to speak to the fact that my client was cooperative throughout the incident.  As a result, the Magisterial District Judge gave my client a reduced fine, easily saving him several hundred dollars.

In the end, my client was very happy to have avoided a license suspension.

If you or someone you know has been charged with Underage Drinking or Public Drunkenness in Berks County, Pennsylvania, or Reading, Pennsylvania, please contact my office to set-up a free consultation.  I have helped many clients, including many students from local colleges, such as Alvernia College, Albright College, Penn State Berks, and Kutztown University, who have been charged with these or similar offenses.  As with any case involving a college student, I am always focused on getting a result that will minimize or eliminate any potential impact on his or her future.

Client Granted ARD After Filing Reconsideration

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

My client was charged with a first offense driving under the influence (DUI) charge in Berks County.  Even though it was a first offense, my client was still facing a mandatory 72 hours (3 days) in Berks County Prison along with a 12 month license suspension.  After reviewing the facts of the case with my client, we made the decision that the best option would be to pursue the Berks County DUI ARD Program, which would eliminate the threat of any mandatory jail time and reduce the license suspension down to 60 days.

The problem, however, was that my client previously participated in and completed the accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ARD) program in another case, approximately two (2) years ago.  Normally, ARD is offered to first time offenders only, and a prior involvement with the criminal justice system will preclude a defendant from participating in the ARD Program.  In fact, that was exactly what happened as the case initially progressed.  I received notice from the District Attorney’s Office that my client was denied from the DUI ARD Program.

Nevertheless, I wanted to make at least one (1) additional attempt to get my client admitted to the DUI ARD Program.  After all, my client had never spent a day in jail in his entire life, and he was extremely worried about ending up behind bars.  Also, my client was employed full-time, and a lengthy one-year license suspension would cause significant problems with my client’s ability to get to and from work.  Therefore, I prepared a letter addressed to the District Attorney of Berks County.  In the letter, I made it known that my client had previously completed the ARD Program in Berks County.  However, I also made it clear that my client was willing to do whatever was necessary to be given the benefit of going through the program a second time.  Also, I was sure to mention that my client was extremely cooperative with the police throughout the investigation and that he was employed full-time.

Shortly thereafter, I received a letter back stating that my client had been granted entry onto the DUI ARD based on my reconsideration request.  Although it can be very difficult to get accepted onto the ARD Program if there is a prior involvement with the criminal justice system, I have been very successful helping clients in these types of situations.  Often times, a properly worded letter pointing out the important facts of the case can result in a different outcome.

If you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Reading, Pennsylvania, or Berks County, Pennsylvania, please contact my office to setup a free consultation.  I would be more than happy to discuss the specifics of your case.

Client Released from Prison Following Parole Violation Hearing

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

This morning I represented a Defendant in a GAGNON I (parole violation hearing) in the Berks County Adult Probation Office. She had been incarcerated in Berks County Prison for approximately 2 weeks after allegations emerged that she had violated provisions of her supervision for an earlier misdemeanor case in Berks County.

In this particular situation, the Client came to me upon learning that she had a warrant out for her arrest. After getting her affairs in order, which included drafting temporary custody documents so her mother could care for her children, I walked her over to the Berks County Probation and Parole Officer to turn her in. Two weeks later the GAG I took place and I was able to cite her cooperation in turning herself, her taking responsibility for her actions and the strong family support system she has on the outside. Fortunately, the hearing officer was persuaded to give her another chance and granted her freedom. This was particularly good news since often times, individuals facing probation or parole violations remain incarcerated for several months while waiting for a GAGNON II hearing in front of a Judge before they are released.

If you or a loved one is facing a probation or parole violation in Berks County PA please contact our office for a free consultation. The best thing you can do for yourself if you have a warrant out for your arrest is to contact a lawyer immediately. We can arrange a place and time to turn you into the proper authorities. If you know you are wanted by Probation and Parole, don’t delay – call us right away.

Emergency Custody Petition in Berks County, PA

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Liz Ebner, our Divorce and Custody Attorney, recently relayed to me a favorable result she obtained for a family law client of ours:

Liz:  In a recent Emergency Petition in Custody, father did not have primary physical custody ever and mother threatened to move child out of state and prevent father from seeing his child again.  I filed an Emergency petition “writ na exiat” to prevent mother from removing the child from Berks County without permission of the Court and had child removed from mother’s custody to father pending a future hearing.  The Parties were able to work out a suitable custody agreement in the end.

The attorneys at Ebner, Nevins & McAllister are currently accepting new family law clients.  We work hard to get you the best results in your custody or divorce case.  We recognize and respect the strong emotions that are often at play in these types of cases.  We pride ourselves on caring deeply about our clients and the children that are involved.  Please contact our office for a free consultation if you are facing or would like to initiate a divorce or custody action in Berks County, Pennsylvania. 

Robbery Charges Dismissed in Berks County PA

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Recently, Attorney Liz Ebner represented a defendant charged with F1 Robbery, F1 criminal conspiracy to robbery and related charges. He was accused of knocking over a chinese food delivery man and punching him in the face while the man was held by a codefendant, and stealing his motor bike. Our client insisted that he was not the one that did this and he had no prior criminal record as a juvenile or adult. His life could have been ruined. We obtained unsecured bail for him and filed a motion for writ of habeas corpus. The defendant was never identified as the perpetrator in court and the charges were dismissed. He was looking at at least 20-40 years in prison if found guilty.

PA Supreme Court hands down License Suspension ruling

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has recently ruled that PENNDOT can issue multiple drivers license suspensions for multiple vehicle code violations occurring during a single incident.  Calling it a case of first impression, the Court, in Strawn v. Department of Transportation found that the Appellant in this case should in fact suffer consecutive license suspensions for a single incident which resulted in charges of DUI, Fleeing and Eluding, Reckless Driving and Failure to Stop.  Appellant had argued that previous case law held that penalties should merge when their is a single criminal episode.  The case law that Appellant cited, however, dealt with Section 1532(c) of the vehicle code.  This is the section dealing with license suspensions for Drug Act offenses, not vehicle code violations.  1532(b), the section dealing with suspensions for vehicle code violations was the section that Appellant was penalized under.  The Court, in rejecting Appellant’sargument, stated, “It would strain the plain meaning of Section 1532(b0 to conclude that one suspension is appropriate for multiple offenses where the statute imposes different lengths of suspensions for distinct Motor Vehicle Code provisions. ” 

While this ruling certainly is a setback for individuals seeking relief from license suspensions, it does not change a general strategy employed in the defense of license suspension cases.  Either through negotiation or litigation I always try to limit the number of convictions for offenses where license suspensions occur.  When summary traffic offenses are attached to a DUI or Fleeing and Eluding case, I negotiate the withdrawal of such offenses.  In other cases, where there are numerous moving violations, I can persuade an officer to permit a plea to a single offense that does not impact you license.  If the matter needs to be tried before the Magistrate or Appealed to Common Pleas, I regularly advocate for clients facing license suspensions.  If you are facing a traffic citation or another charge where your Pennsylvania Driver’s License is at risk please contact my office for a no cost consultation.

Theft Charges Dismissed At Preliminary Hearing

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Last Friday I represented a client in Reading Central Court (RCC) in Berks County who was charged with Receiving Stolen Property, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 3925, which is a theft offense.  Although my client was only charged with a single misdemeanor offense, she had two (2) co-defendants who were charged with felony robbery, as well as other serious crimes; this was, therefore, an extremely serious case for my client.

After reading the affidavit of probable cause, I discussed with my client that there didn’t appear to be much evidence against her.  The facts of the case were that my client, who was a passenger in a vehicle, was found to be in possession of a cell phone that had been taken in a robbery earlier that same day.  On the day of my client’s preliminary hearing, I informed the Judge and the district attorney that my client and I would be fighting the case.

The defense in my client’s case was relatively simple.  My client and I did not dispute that she was in possession of the cell phone.  There was simply no proof, however, that my client had any idea that the cell phone was, in fact, stolen.  During testimony by the victim and the police officers, I was able to demonstrate to the Judge that my client was 100% cooperative throughout the investigation.  Furthermore, my client never made any attempt to conceal or hide the cell phone.  Finally, right from the beginning of the investigation, my client told the police officers up front that the cell phone did not belong to her.  It appears that my client simply picked up the cell phone upon entering the vehicle.

Although the burden of proof is very low at a preliminary hearing, the Judge in this case dismissed the charge against my client after hearing my closing argument.  My client walked out of the courtroom with no jail time, no probation, no fines, and no court costs.  She was very happy with the outcome of her case.

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime in Berks County or Reading, Pennsylvania, please contact my office to setup a free consultation.