Archive for September, 2016

ENM Law News: Berks County custody case wins for fathers

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Are you a father in Berks County who is wondering “How can I increase my custody time with my children”? We have experience helping fathers with that exact issue. Here are some recent Reading, PA custody cases that we’ve handled.

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A father of 3 came to Attorney Ebner to help him get custody of his children back. The mother of the children had left the children behind when she went to live with a new boyfriend. When she was settled in her new home, she took the children and refused to return them to our client. The mother then filed for custody alleging that our client had abused the children. Attorney Ebner filed an emergency custody petition in Berks County and asked that the court order the mother to return the children. Attorney Ebner was successful and the client was awarded primary physical custody with the mother having custody every other weekend.

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Attorney Ebner was able to quickly assist a father of 2 who came to her for help with the custody case involving his children. The mother of the children moved to a new school district while the parties were attempting to reach a shared custody agreement. The mother, without permission from our client, then enrolled the school-age child in the new school district. This type of behavior is not looked upon favorably by the Berks County custody judges. Attorney Ebner quickly brought the matter to the attention of the custody judge and the judge ordered that the child be returned to the client’s school district immediately.

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A father of 2 came to Attorney Ebner for help when the mother of his children who had primary physical custody was refusing to allow him to see the children during his court-ordered periods of visitation and was refusing to allow him to take the children on a summer vacation. Attorney Ebner petitioned the Berks County custody court and requested that our client be given make-up time for the visitation missed as a result of the mother’s actions and for permission to take the children on a reasonable vacation. Both requests for granted. Attorney Ebner has since filed for contempt against the mother for failure to follow the custody schedule and the client has asked that he be given primary physical custody of the children. These matters are still pending.

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If you need help with your custody case, call our experienced Berks County custody attorneys today at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com. We look forward to evaluating your custody case to see how we can assist you.

Spotlight Issue: What is the status of DUI’s in Berks County following the Birchfield decision?

Friday, September 30th, 2016

DUI law in Berks County is currently in question following the US Supreme Court’s decision in a case called Birchfield v. North Dakota. The Birchfield case addressed a number of issues including warrantless requests for chemical testing, the implied consent warnings that are read when chemical testing is requested by the police and enhanced penalties for refusal to submit to the testing.

In Pennsylvania prior to the Birchfield decision, if a police officer had probable cause to believe that a driver was DUI (from either alcohol or drugs) then he could request that the driver submit to a breath or blood test without having to obtain a warrant for that search. At the time that the request for breath or blood was made, the officer had to read implied consent warnings to the driver which put the driver on notice that consent to the testing was implied under PA law and any refusal to submit to the testing would result in enhanced criminal and civil penalties. A subsequent refusal to submit to the testing would lead to increased jail time and fines as well as an automatic license suspension.

So what has changed about DUI since the Birchfield decision? Well, there are a lot of questions about what the case means and how chemical testing and refusals should be handled. Here’s what we know so far.

The Birchfield Court held that a warrant is required for police to request a test of a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) by blood test. There is no longer a “search incident to arrest” exception to the general rule that a warrant is required before a search is conducted. However, that is only true for BLOOD tests; a breath test can still be requested without a warrant if it is done incident to a DUI arrest. Does this matter in Berks County? Yes, because the majority of police departments in Berks County relied on blood tests instead of breath tests. What does that mean for you if you were arrested for a DUI and a blood test was requested without a warrant? It means that you need one of our experienced Reading, PA DUI lawyers to evaluate your case and possibly file a pretrial motion on your behalf. This will bring your case in front of a judge to decide whether the request for a warrantless blood draw was lawful.
The PA implied consent warnings that were read when blood testing was requested following a DUI arrest may have been coercive according to the Birchfield Court’s ruling. The forms included the statement that refusal to submit to the testing and a subsequent DUI conviction would result in “more severe penalties …, the same as if you would be convicted of driving with the highest rate of alcohol.” (as stated in the PA DL-26 form). The question for the PA courts is whether or not this threat of enhanced penalties which have been found to be unlawful by the Birchfield Court negate any consent given by the driver to submit to chemical testing. What does that mean for you if you were arrested for a DUI and consented to a blood test after being read the implied consent warning? It means that you need one of our experienced Reading, PA DUI lawyers to evaluate your case and possibly file a pretrial motion on your behalf. This will bring your case in front of a judge to decide whether your consent to the blood test was freely given.
Perhaps the biggest change from the Birchfield case will come as a result of the Court’s ruling that drivers may not be punished criminally for refusing to submit to blood testing. Please note that this does not apply to breath tests. This could mean that the enhanced criminal penalties for refusing to submit to a blood test in PA’s vehicle code section 3804(c) are unlawful. 3804(c) says that a driver who refuses to submit to chemical testing and is later convicted of a DUI will be sentenced as if he had the highest rate of alcohol. The Birchfield Court did say that enhanced civil penalties are permissible so the automatic license suspension for a refusal will most likely remain in place. What does that mean for you if you were arrested for a DUI and refused to submit to a blood test? It means that you need one of our experienced Berks County DUI lawyers to evaluate your case and possibly file a pretrial motion on your behalf. This will bring your case in front of a judge to decide whether you were properly charged with enhanced penalties for refusing to submit to a blood test.

What should you conclude from all of this information? If you have a pending DUI charge then you may be able to receive a reduced sentence as a result of the current confusion. However, that won’t happen automatically. You need to contact one of our experienced Berks County DUI attorneys so that we can start working on your case as soon as possible. Call us today at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.

ENM Law News: Positive outcomes in Berks County DUI-related cases

Friday, September 30th, 2016

What should you do about your Berks County DUI charge? You should have your case evaluated by one of our experienced DUI attorneys. Read about some of our recent cases.

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A client was charged in Berks County for driving with a DUI suspended license otherwise known as a 1543(b) violation. Read more about the charge here. The client was facing a mandatory 60 day jail sentence and $500 fine. This client came to Attorney Ebner hoping to avoid these penalties. Attorney Ebner attended the hearing and reached an agreement with the police wherein the charge was significantly reduced and the client received a $25 fine plus court costs with no further license suspension.

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A Berks County 1st-time DUI offender was facing a mandatory 72 hours of incarceration, a 1 year license suspension and fines and costs for a highest-rate of alcohol DUI. Read more about first-offense DUI’s here. Attorney Ebner stepped in to represent this client to try to reduce the sentence. Attorney Ebner submitted multiple character letters on this client’s behalf and was able to negotiate a sentence wherein the client was placed into the DUI ARD program and received no jail time or license suspension. Read more about the Berks County DUI ARD program here.

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One of our Berks County clients was charged with a first-offense DUI and additionally with refusing to submit to chemical testing. This client had applied for the DUI ARD program and was facing the usual ARD sentence for a DUI with a refusal which included a 60-day license suspension. The client was charged prior to the US Supreme Court’s recent decision in Birchfield (read more about this important DUI case here** add link). Knowing that the Court’s decision was coming soon and that it could have a huge impact on her client’s case, Attorney Ebner delayed the disposition of this client’s case to wait for a ruling in Birchfield. Because of the new issues that have been raised by the Supreme Court’s Birchfield decision, this Berks County DUI client was given a reduced ARD sentence for general impairment (the lowest level DUI sentence) and NO license suspension.

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If you’ve been charged with a DUI or 1543(b) violation in Berks County, whether it’s your first criminal charge or you have been convicted of crimes in the past, you need an experienced DUI attorney to review your case. Our Reading, PA DUI attorneys have all of the necessary experience to get you the shortest DUI sentence possible. Contact us today at 610-372-5128 or info@enmlaw.com.