Archive for April, 2011

Appealing Traffic Citations Saves Points on Drivers’ Licenses

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

This week I (Attorney Dan Nevins) represented two motorists in Summary Appeals who had been charged with speeding violations in Berks County, PA. In each case I was able to negotiate with the Commonwealth to reduce the violations to save my clients both money and points on their licenses. As we have posted before, the Pennsylvania vehicle code calls for points to be assigned based on how fast over the speed limit a driver was operating his or her vehicle. Accumulate enough points and a driver is facing a Departmental Hearing and/or a License Suspension or even a License Revocation.inflatable water slides

If you are worried about points on your license then it is important to contact a qualified Berks County Traffic Attorney when you are facing a traffic citation in Reading or Berks County, PA. It may be possible to negotiate a reduction in charges at the time of the hearing before the district judge. If you have already pled guilty or been found guilty, then you may be able to exercise your appeal rights before the Berks County Court of Common Pleas. Our firm regularly represents drivers with licensing issues in the Courts of Berks County, PA as well as throughout eastern Pennsylvania. Please call out office for a free initial consultations for your Traffic or Drivers License issue.commercial inflatable water slides for sale

PFA Dismissed following hearing in Berks County Court of Common Pleas

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Yesterday I (Attorney Dan Nevins) represented a client facing Protection From Abuse (PFA) petition. The allegations involved a domestic altercation which took place at a crowded nightclub in Reading, PA. According to the Plaintiff’s narrative in the Temporary PFA, my client approached her, grabbed her around the neck and slapped her twice on the face. To support her claim, Plaintiff intended to use an independent witness who was was a dance instructor at the club.

My client denies laying a hand on his spouse. He does not deny encountering her at the club where he had gone to shoot pool with his father. To support our position we were able to present the testimony of the club’s security guard who witnessed the whole thingcheap bounce house for sale.

During the hearing we were able to impeach the credibility of the Plaintiff’s “independent” witness. As it turned out she was Plaintiff’s salsa instructor who was sitting at a table drinking beer with Plaintiff and two other male instructors when this allegedly happened. My true independent witness confirmed he that he knew neither my client nor the Plaintiff. He went on to state that he watched the entire encounter and my client did not lay a hand on her. Moreover, he would have kicked my client, or any other, out of the club if there was any physical violence.   I do owe a special thanks to client’s brother for tracking down this witness and bringing him into court on short notice.

In the end, the Judge dismissed the PFA after hearing all the testimony.

ARD Reconsideration Granted in Berks County Drug Case

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

This morning I was able to secure an ARD admission for a client charged with Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana and Paraphernalia. Typically, this would not be particularly notable for a first time offender. However, my client’s background included a previous ARD for a DUI case.

Our initial application for ARD was denied by the Assistant District Attorney due to the prior ARD and prosecutorial discretion. I felt that the circumstances of the arrest and my client’s background were unique and should be taken into consideration by the Commonwealth. So, I submitted an ARD Reconsideration letter to the Berks County District Attorney outlining the reasons why my client should be given a break. He has a good job in the financial field which requires various licenses which could be jeopardized with a drug related conviction. Both offenses were non-violent and were relatively minor. Objectively speaking, the circumstances of the search and seizure were subject to a constitutional challenge. Fortunately, the District Attorney took the various points into account and approved admission into the program.

The end result is that my client can earn a dismissal of the charges so long as he stays out of trouble for 6 months, completes community service and pays some fines and costs. A great outcome for someone facing a drug related conviction which would lead to internation travel restrictions and possible loss of professional certifiactions and licenses, not to mention suspension of his driver’s license.

It’s possible, though rare, to gain admission to the ARD program in Berks County for a second offense. The lawyers at Ebner, Nevins & McAllister have experience at successfully navigating these waters. If you have a criminal case in Berks County, PA you need skilled legal representation. Call our offices to schedule a free consultation.

Client granted RRRI Eligibility Waiver – Minimum Stentence Reduced by 7 1/2 Months

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Today, I represented a client In Berks County Court on Burglary, Conspiracy and Theft charges. Client’s family came to our firm over a year after charges had been filed and as Client continued to languish in Berks County Prison. The plea offer obtained by prior counsel had been for 3 to 6 years in state prison – a standard offer based on client’s prior record and the sentencing guidelines for the top charge. However, it was my hope to bargain for something more favorable for my client.

This young man had a non-violent background and his legal issues stemmed directly from a history of substance abuse. He clearly needs some help so that he does not reoffend once he is eventually released. With this in mind, I began plea negotiations with the Assistant District Attorney. He soon amended the charges and reduced the minimum to 2 1/2 years, although I hoped to do even better.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has a program for non-violent offenders known as RRRI (Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive) or “Triple R-I” program. The program consists of intensive treatment and rehabilitation including a large component of drug and alcohol treatment. By participating in the program an offender can reduce his minimum sentence by either 3/4 or 5/6 depending on the length of sentence. Based on my client’s background this is something he sorely needed. Unfortunately, he was statutorily ineligible due to a 7 year old Simple Assault conviction.

Through continued negotiation I was eventually able to convince the ADA to waive the eligibility requirements. The Judge agreed as well, and the client was made eligible for the RRRI program. This functions to reduce his RRRI minimum from 30 months down to 22 1/2 months and also give him the Drug and Alcohol treatment that he greatly needs and desires. With 14 months of credit time my client has a little over 8 months until he hits his minimum. Ultimately, it will be up to my client to do well on the program and maintain sobriety. Hopefully, this negotiated sentence will give him the opportunity to do so.

If you or a loved one is facing a lengthy state prison sentence please contact our office to discuss the options. You may be eligible for an alternative program such as RRRI, State Intermediate Punishment, County Intermediate Punishment, Boot Camp, Drug Treatment Court, DUI Treatment Court, Berks County’s Mental Health Treatment Court or Veteran’s Court. Our attorneys are skilled in negotiating alternative sentences and help you avoid lengthy state prison sentences. Please call our Reading, PA law office to schedule a free consultation.

College Student Not Guilty In Underage Drinking Case

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Recently, I (Attorney Ryan McAllister) represented a young college student at one of the Magisterial District Courts in Berks County.  My client was issued an underage drinking citation under 18 Pa.C.S.A. 6308 for allegedly consuming and / or possessing alcohol.  The incident involved a small group of college students who were drinking in an university dormitory.  Although an underage drinking citation is relatively minor charge, anyone in college should be concerned about the effect of having any type of conviction on his or her record.  Additionally, under Pennsylvania law, a conviction for underage drinking under 18 Pa.C.S.A. 6308 typically carries over $400.00 in fines and court costs, as well as a 3 month driver’s license suspension for a first offense.

My client and I showed up at court, and I initially tried to negotiate deal on behalf of my client.  The officers from the prosecuting university police department, however, were not willing to drop the charge against my client in exchange for community service.  Therefore, after discussing the situation with my client, the decision was made to fight the case.  Despite having 4 different witnesses testify against my client, the prosecuting officer was not able to prove my client guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  Critically, the prosecuting officer neglected to even prove that my client was under 21 years old.  After I made my closing argument to the Magisterial District Judge, my client was found “not guilty”.

My client was able to walk out of court with no fines, no court costs, and, most importantly, no conviction on her record.  After the summary trial, I filed an “Expungement Petition” on behalf of my client to clear any trace of the issuance of the citation itself from her record.

If you are charged with underage drinking, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 6308, please contact my office to setup a complimentary consultation.  I would be happy to discuss the case in more detail.  Many times, college students and / or their parents don’t think an attorney is necessary in this type of case.  Having a skilled and experienced attorney involved, though, can often make all the difference in the world.