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June 2016 Archives

ENM Law News: "Not guilty" verdict in bench trial

Attorney Dan Nevins recently secured a "not guilty" verdict for a client charged with intimidating a witness. This client was offered a jail sentence of 9-23 months in exchange for a guilty plea. After consultation with Attorney Nevins, this client decided to proceed with a trial. The alleged victim, who was a witness against our client in a traffic case, testified at the bench trial that the client had threatened to physically assault him if he testified in the traffic case. Under direct examination by Attorney Nevins, our client testified that he and the alleged victim traded racial slurs, but no threats of violence. After hearing all of the evidence, the judge determined that the competing testimony left him with reasonable doubt and therefore he found the client "not guilty." Thanks to the hard work of Attorney Nevins, this client avoided a conviction and lengthy jail sentence.

ENM Law News: DUI ARD Reconsideration

A recent Berks County DUI client was placed in the ARD program thanks to the hard work of Attorney Ebner. This client had been denied entry into the Berks County DUI ARD program on two previous occasions when represented by other attorneys. This client was a single mother with 2 children and desperately needed her driver's license. The DUI ARD program has a mandatory license suspension for certain BAC's, but the suspension is much shorter than with a DUI conviction. Attorney Ebner instructed her client to pay off all outstanding fines and then asked for her ARD application to be reconsidered again. This time the request was granted and the DUI client was placed in the ARD program.

Legal Update

The United States Supreme Court recently issued a decision in the case Utah v. Strieff that will have a big impact on the suppression of evidence found on a suspect following an illegal stop. In the Strieff case, the defendant was stopped by a police officer after leaving a house where the officer suspected drug activity was occurring. The officer then learned that the defendant had an outstanding warrant, placed the defendant under arrest and searched him. Drugs were found on the defendant. The drug evidence was suppressed by the Utah Supreme Court because the initial stop of the defendant was done without reasonable suspicion that he was involved in criminal activity. The lower court held that the illegal stop poisoned any subsequent search. However, the United States Supreme Court decided that even if the police officer had stopped the suspect without having reasonable suspicion to do so, because there was a valid arrest warrant for the defendant and no flagrant police misconduct, the search and seizure of the drugs was legal. Therefore, they overturned the ruling that the drug evidence must be suppressed.

Spotlight Issue: Indirect Criminal Contempt (ICC)

An Indirect Criminal Contempt charge (ICC) is a criminal charge for the violation of a civil Protection From Abuseorder. An ICC is filed by the police if they believe that the defendant has not followed the terms of the PFA. The defendant's conduct does not necessarily need to constitute a separate crime. Once an ICC charge has been filed, the defendant will be arraigned and bail will be set. The ICC hearing will be scheduled within 10 days of the charge being filed. At that hearing, the case will be heard by a Berks County Court of Common Pleas Judge and will be prosecuted by the District Attorney's Office. The police officer who filed the ICC charge will be present as well as any witnesses to the violation (most often this is the plaintiff in the PFA action). The charge must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, just as with any other criminal charge. An ICC conviction is not a slap on the wrist; it carries a maximum permissible sentence of 6 months of incarceration and a $1,000 fine and will remain on your criminal record. In addition to the criminal penalties, an ICC conviction can result in an extension of the original PFA order.

ENM Law News: "Not guilty" verdict in Simple Assault case

Attorney Ebner recently represented a client charged with Simple Assault and obtained a "not guilty" verdict for him at a bench trial. This client was facing a possible maximum sentence of two years of incarceration and a $5,000 fine. He was accused of swinging a hammer at the alleged victim. At trial, Attorney Ebner established that the accuser was the relative of the client's tenant who had been evicted and was supposed to have vacated the residence on the date in question. The client testified credibly that he arrived at the residence intending to begin work on the house and found that the tenant was refusing to leave. He called the police and sat on the porch to await their arrival. The client was holding a hammer and the alleged victim tried to take it from him. A struggle ensued over the hammer and when the client let go of the hammer, the alleged victim fell down to the ground and was injured. Thanks to Attorney Ebner's representation, the judge found this client "not guilty" of the assault charge.

ENM Law News: Successful custody outcome

A client recently came to our office to consult with our experienced Berks County custody attorneys. This father had lost most of his custody rights two years prior and was restricted to seeing his child two nights per month. The client was hoping to be granted permission to take his child on vacation over the summer. Attorney Ebner diligently represented this father and convinced a Berks County custody judge to allow her client to take his child on a five day vacation over the summer with the possibility of a second vacation being permitted. This client looks forward to having his custody time increased in the future.

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