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Law Offices of Kelly & Conte's Blog

Violent crimes and domestic violence

Some of the most serious violent crimes that make their way through the criminal justice system involve domestic violence. Pennsylvania has passed a number of different statutes in order to alleviate the distress for victims of domestic violence. One such statue is section 2711of the Pa criminal code, relating to probable cause arrests for domestic violence cases. assault crimes This statue grants officers the same power to arrest an individual without a warrant as in a felony, whenever they have probable cause to believe the defendant has committed an act of domestic violence. Domestic violence is not in and of itself a separate statue. Although that is the case, it acts as an enhancement for violating statues including involuntary manslaughter, simple and aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats, stalking or strangulation against a family or household member. The violation of one of the previously mentioned statues against a family or household member, allows an officer even, if it did not happen in front of them, to arrest an individual as long as they have probable cause to believe that it took place.

Criminal defense Inchoate crimes

Inchoate crimes, or incomplete crimes in the realm of criminal defense, are a broad category of various actions that lead to the commission of a crime or amount to an indirect participation in the crime. CYS investigations Pennsylvania law establishes that there are a number of inchoate crimes such as criminal attempt, solicitation, and conspiracy. It is important to note that while many actions that can constitute an inchoate crime are not illegal, when they are looked at in the context of it taking place during the commission of a crime, it becomes illegal. For example, owing a pair of bolt cutters is not illegal but if it was found in the back of someone's car next to a ski mask, the building blueprints of a bank, a firearm, and a bag for money it could lead the officers to believe that it will be used to commit to a crime. Due to the fact that inchoate crimes involve actions not yet taken, they can lead prosecutors in to difficult situations that could potentially be considered violations of civil rights. Defense attorneys know that the state's case is often based solely on circumstantial evidence which means that there are a number of possible defenses against charges under the inchoate crimes category.

Violent Crimes Possession of a firearm by a minor

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Violent Crimes such as possession of a firearm by a minor can be a very serious offense. Under the law, an individual to lawfully possess a firearm, that individual must be over the age of 18. manslaughter Being under the age of 18 and being found in possession of a firearm is a criminal act which is defined under section 6110.1 of the Pa criminal code. It states that no one under the age of 18 shall possess, sell, or transfer a firearm anywhere in the state. The law does recognize that minors, with their parent or guardian's permission can operate and handle a firearm for a lawful purpose. A lawful purpose would include various actions such as target practice, safety training or competitions involving the use of firearms. Also included in the lawful purpose category is hunting. Minors can possess a firearm for the purposes of hunting but it must be with the supervision and permission of the minor's parents or guardians. Due to the fact that individuals under the age of 18 cannot legally buy firearms from licensed dealers, anyone caught giving or selling a firearm to a minor for an unlawful purpose is also punished under this statute.

Rule 403 of Criminal Defense Procedure

When a defendant in a criminal defense case goes to trial with a jury, there are rules of Procedure such as rule 403 as to what can and cannot be shown to the members of jury. child endangerment Rule 403 of the criminal procedure deals directly with this issue. The rule states that a trial court may exclude certain relevant pieces of evidence if the introduction of said evidence causes unfair prejudice, confuses the issues, misleads the jury, causes undue delay, wastes time, or needlessly presents cumulative evidence which would weigh any inherent value the introduction of the evidence has. One of the biggest challenges that a defendant faces, especially in a murder case, is that the evidence against them causes the members of the jury to form an unfair prejudice against them. An unfair prejudice essentially causes the members of the jury to act on something other than the law, for example emotions. Pictures of the victim in a murder trial, although relevant, may cause the members of the jury to become so enflamed with emotions that they form opinions about the defendant which are prejudicial in nature.

Criminal Defense attempt

One of the more serious of criminal charges in criminal defense cases under the inchoate umbrella is the charge of criminal attempt. Criminal attempt is defined under section 901 of the Pa criminal code. child endangerment It states that an individual is guilty of an attempted criminal act when they with the intention of committing a criminal act, take a substantial step toward the commission of that criminal act. There are two essential elements that make up this statute. First that the Commonwealth must prove that the individual had the intention of committing that crime. The intention of the individual must rise above the standards of negligence and recklessness. This type of intention must be specific which essentially means that the individual must intend to complete the acts which constitute a crime. In addition to proving that the individual acted with the necessary intention, the Commonwealth must also prove that the individual took a substantial step toward the commission of the crime.

Criminal Defense Conspiracy

Another serious crime under the category of inchoate crimes and criminal defense is criminal conspiracy. Criminal conspiracy is defined under section 903 of the Pa criminal code. child porn cases Essentially a person is guilty of criminal conspiracy if they agree with another individual or individuals to engage in the commission of a crime. In general, a charge of criminal conspiracy is a separate charge from the crime at the center of the conspiracy. For instance, an individual can be charged with both conspiracy to commit murder and murder at the same time. A charge of criminal conspiracy can still be applicable even if the commission of the crime never actually takes place. The Commonwealth can convict an individual of criminal conspiracy even if the parties were just planning or preparing to commit a crime. Still, there are two elements that are essential for the Commonwealth to prove that a criminal conspiracy took place. There has to be some type of agreement between the parties and anyone who is involved must intend to commit the criminal act.

Sex Crimes Sexual abuse of children

While all sex crimes like sexual abuse of children are by their very nature are serious, sexual crimes involving children often the most serious. Pennsylvania law, as well as the rest of the United States, prohibits anyone under the age of 18 to engage in sexual acts on camera. child endangerment In fact, this is considered child abuse and is defined under section 6312 of the Pa criminal code. Under the first section of the statute, anyone who films, photographs, or depicts underage individuals engaged prohibited sexual acts on a computer or recording device is guilty of child abuse. The next section deals with the distribution of the sexually explicit images. Anyone who sells, transfers, distributes or displays these images would also be guilty of the sexual abuse of children. Finally, the last section of the statute deals with individuals who view these types of images defined as child pornography. Anyone who intentionally views or knowingly possesses child pornography including pictures or videos, has violated the statue.

Charged with underage drinking or DUI in Pennsylvania?

Reasonable people disagree over whether the minimum drinking age is the best way to handle drinking among young people. Many people argue that parents, not the government, should decide when it's appropriate for young people to drink. Others believe that safe, appropriate alcohol consumption is something people learn over time, so having an abrupt start date of 21 puts people at risk for overconsumption. Still others point out that so many young people drink that it's perverse to criminalize the behavior.

Those are all reasonable arguments, but they don't carry the day. The fact is, underage drinking is illegal.

Criminal defense solicitation

Another crime in the realm of criminal defense under the inchoate umbrella of crimes is criminal solicitation. Criminal solicitation is defined under section 902 of the Pa criminal code. rape The statute essentially defines criminal solicitation as one individual requesting or commanding another to act in a way that would constitute a crime. For instance, the most readily available example and the one that most people think of when they think of criminal solicitation is, solicitation of a prostitute. In this example, an individual solicits another to engage in criminal behavior in exchange for money. It is important to note that money does not need to exchange hands to be considered solicitation. The statute does not mention anything about a monetary value necessary to prove the crime took place. The Commonwealth only needs to prove that the circumstances surrounding the solicitation were done with the intention of promoting or facilitating the commission of the crime solicited.

DUI Actual Physical Control

It is a commonly held belief that an individual can receive a DUI even though they aren't actually physical control of the vehicle. defending DUI cases While that can be the case, there is actually a very precise legal definition of what can constitute a DUI. The most relevant part of the statute is the part about the driver being in "actual physical control" of the vehicle while intoxicated. In order for a driver to be in actual physical control of the vehicle, the officer at the scene must look at the totality of the circumstances including the following three factors. First the officer should establish whether the engine, ignition, and lights were on at the time. Next, the officer must look at the location of the vehicle. The location of the vehicle is very important. If the vehicle was in the middle of a road (moving or not moving) and not off to the side, that would be a pretty clear indication that the driver was in actual physical control of the vehicle.

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