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Law Offices of Kelly & Conte's Blog

Many Americans know someone convicted of a crime

There is a good chance that an individual in Pennsylvania has a direct member of the family who has been sent to prison or jail. According to a study by Cornell University in New York, 45 percent of Americans have a parent, grandparent or sibling who is or was incarcerated. Children and spouses also counted as direct family ties for the purposes of the study.

African-Americans and individuals with a low level of education were even more likely to know someone who had been to jail or prison. However, even 15 percent of white individuals who had a college degree knew someone who had been incarcerated. Furthermore, the study found that 55 percent of African-Americans with a college degree knew someone who had been behind bars. The researchers said that these figures show that incarceration is a problem that can impact people regardless of their race or level of education.

Sex Crimes Loitering and Prowling at night

Sex Crimes such as Loitering and prowling at night is a criminal offense defined under section 5506 of the Pa criminal code. Essentially, this act is defined as maliciously loitering or maliciously prowling around an occupied structure at night.  child endangerment Given the vague wording of the statue, in order to fully understand it, the terms used need to be defined. The state defines loitering as lingering, staying, remaining or waiting at one location. In addition, the state defines prowling as roving or wandering in a stealthy manner. Finally, the state defines the term malicious as vexatious, annoying, injurious, or with intent to do a wrongful act. The most important element of this statute is the malicious intent. In order for this charge to hold up, the commonwealth must prove that an individual's actions met the standard of malicious intent. This is a high burden of proof that the is on the commonwealth to prove. This statute is a misdemeanor of the third-degree which makes it a fairly serious offense. If found guilty, a sentence of up to a year incarcerated and a hefty fine can be imposed.

Sex Crimes What should I do if I am Accused of Rape

Current events have raised questions involving Sex Crimes and what a person should do if they are accused of rape. Recent events have really placed the topic of sexual misconduct, such as rape, in the news headlines across the United States. indecent assault The "me too" movement, along with the Kavanaugh hearings have really got individuals, especially men, thinking about what to do if they have been accused of sexual misconduct, especially rape. If you have been accused of any sexual misconduct, especially rape, they first thing that you will want to do is speak to a defense attorney as soon as possible. An accusation, whether true or false, can have a devastating effect on an individual's reputation and it is important to have an experienced attorney who will know what to do given the facts of your particular situation. If the police want to bring you in for questioning, it is extremely important that you do not give any answers to any questions, without the presence of your attorney. In the Miranda warnings, the officers explicitly say "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." It is really important to not talk to the police without the presence of your attorney.

Drug Crimes Police searches

The 4th amendment typically applies to police searches involving drug crimes. The 4th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. Heroin Crimes So, when exactly can police search an individual, specifically a person's vehicle? There are several ways a police officer can obtain legal authority to do so. The first is the long drawn out process of obtaining a search warrant. The officer must outline specifically where they will be searching and must provide a reason or justification as to why the search is necessary, and a judge must sign off on the search. However, this is not how most officers obtain legal authority to search an individual's vehicle. Most searches are based on probable case (PC) alone. PC is essentially certain factors are present during an interaction with police that leads the officer to believe a crime has been committed. This gives the officer a reasonable ground to base the search off of. For instance, a very common form of PC is the presence of marijuana odor admitting from the individual's vehicle. If during the course of a traffic stop, the officer detects the odor of marijuana, that officer can use the presence of the marijuana odor as PC and search the vehicle without needing a warrant.

Younger Americans facing high rates of being taken into custody

Individuals who are currently age 25 or younger are more likely to be taken into custody compared to older individuals. Furthermore, the likelihood of a woman or white person being taken into custody is also greater now than in the past. This is according to research conducted by the RAND Corporation. The research found that Pennsylvania residents in the youngest age range had lower incomes, worked fewer hours and were less likely to be married.

It suggested that these were all factors as to why they were being taken into custody at higher rates. Researchers also said that increased enforcement of the law could also be a reason why this is taking place. The study took a look at 35,000 individuals from 5,000 families, and it was deemed representative of most of America with the exception of career criminals.

College Crimes Aggravated Hazing

As a result of a recent string of college crimes on college campuses a new statute was enacted called Aggravated Hazing. Fraternities and sororities have a long-standing initiation tradition which is commonly referred to as hazing. In any circumstance that involves excessive amounts of alcohol and college aged individuals, things have a way of spiraling out of control very quickly and can result in serious injury. assaults on college campuses Incidents that have made headlines typically involve a new recruit at a fraternity dying or getting seriously hurt during that organizations initiation process. When this occurs, the people involved run the risk of being charged with the serious offense of aggravated hazing. Aggravated hazing is just defined under section 2803 of the Pa criminal code. It has the same definition as hazing, which is just any act that recklessly endangers the mental or physical health of an individual as part of the initiation process into an organization, except that the actions that took place results in serious bodily injury or death.

Violent Crimes Assault on an officer

One of the least common types of violent crimes that make their way to through the criminal justice system is assault on an officer. There are varying degrees of assault based on the level of harm caused to the victim. Murder In addition, there are different subsections of the statute that define different types of assault that are perpetrated against certain groups of individuals. One of the most serious cases of assault happen when an individual assaults an officer. Assaulting an officer is defined under section 2702 (a)(3). It is defined as the intentional cause of bodily injury to any of the officers, agents, or employees in the performance of duty. In this definition, there are three elements that need to be unpacked a little more. At first glance the terms officers, agents and employees might seem self-explanatory. However, when you really think about it these are very broad terms that can encompass a wide variety of different people. In fact, the statute further defines these terms and in total there are 38 separate individuals who if assaulted can open up that individual to assaulting an officer charge. Assaulting a firefighter, judge, district attorney, governor, and pretty much anyone who works for the state in some capacity are all individuals listed under this statute.

Sex Crimes Safe harbor for sexually exploited children

Victims in Sex Crimes cases can involve the Safe harbor for sexually exploited children. The criminal justice system is based entirely around the defendant. The defendant and not the victim has rights in the criminal justice system. child endangerment Throughout the history of our criminal justice system the victims of the crime were not really paid attention to unless they were needed in order to testify. That has changed over the years and many victim's rights bills have been passed at the federal level with the states following suit. One of the bills that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania passed to focus on victim's rights is the safe harbor for sexually exploited children statutes. The main statute is defined under section 3061 of the Pa criminal code and it establishes that the state must provide services for children who have been sexually exploited. Services such as housing, education, medical treatment, and therapy are all the types of services that sexually exploited children can choose to participate in which will all be provided by funds from the state.

Court rules jurors cannot be dismissed solely on personal views

It is common practice for potential jurors in Pennsylvania to be dismissed from a case due to their personal beliefs. However, jurors in Massachusetts will no longer be dismissed for their world views if they are capable of being impartial and fair, according to a recent ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

The case before the court involved a black male defendant who was convicted of possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute during a jury trial. During the jury selection process, a woman expressed her opinion that the U.S. justice system was prejudiced against black men. She was later excused from the jury over the objections of the defendant's lawyer. The defendant appealed his conviction on the basis of the juror's dismissal.

College Crimes Hazing

College Crimes such as Hazing consists of crimes committed at a University. For many Universities around the United States, fraternities and sororities are a big part of campus culture. Date Rape When most people think of these organizations, the first thing that comes to mind is the initiation rituals known as hazing. Fraternity hazing is nothing new, but as of recently it has been making news headlines when the acts go too far and result in the death of a new recruit. Incidents like the one that took place at Penn State, has changed the way the general public views rituals such as hazing, conducted by these organizations. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the act of hazing is actually a criminal offense. The statute defines hazing as any act that recklessly endangers the mental or physical health of an individual as part of the initiation process into an organization. Any individual that is in violation of this statute is committing a misdemeanor of the third-degree and is most likely open to other sanctions imposed by their university.

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