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January 2019 Archives

Alternatives to incarceration for violent criminals

Even though the rate of incarceration has decreased slightly in the past decade in Pennsylvania and the rest of the United States, many advocates for justice reform believe more needs to be done. The First Step Act, which was passed into law in 2018, is designed to further lower incarceration rates by reducing sentences for nonviolent offenders. Unfortunately, this act only impacts certain federal crimes, which represent a small portion of the overall prison population.

Violent Crimes Involuntary manslaughter

Violent Crimes such as Involuntary manslaughter is defined under chapter 25 section 2504 of the Pa criminal code and is unlike the other types of killing defined in this section. assault crimes The key distinction between involuntary manslaughter and the other types of killing boils down to intent. A person is charged under this statute if as a result of their reckless or grossly negligent behavior, a person dies. Due to the fact that in these cases there is no intent on the part of the individual to kill the other person, the prosecution has the difficult task of proving that the person was killed as a result of reckless or grossly negligent behavior. If no causal link between the behavior and the killing is established, then the charge of involuntary manslaughter cannot hold up. The charge of involuntary manslaughter is a misdemeanor of the first-degree and with it comes a penalty of up to five years in prison. Due to the relative seriousness of the charges and the fact that a death occurred it, is important to avoid behaviors that could lead to this charge.

Violent Crimes Robbery vs. Burglary

People often use the terms for violent crimes such as robbery and burglary interchangeably but there are a number of legal distinctions that make them separate charges under Pennsylvania law. firearm charges While both charges are similar in that they both can be considered a form of theft, there are none the less, a number of notable differences. The first distinction between the two charges is the classification of the crime. The act of robbery is classified as a violent crime, while the act of burglary is considered a property crime. The act of robbery is considered a violent crime because it typically involves an additional element such as the use of force or violence. Other elements in the definition of robbery include, infliction of serious bodily injury, threats of violence, threats of another crime, putting another in fear of harm, or taking property directly from another person by force however slight.

Violent Crimes Robbery

Violent Crimes such as Robbery is defined under title 18 section 3701 of the Pa criminal code. attempted murder It is essentially an act of theft which is in essence, the unlawful taking of another's possession, with some additional elements. The additional elements that make robbery a separate statute include but are not limited to, the infliction of serious bodily injury, threats of violence, and the taking property directly from another person with the use of force however slight. The act of robbery is classified as a violent crime, and not a property crime as most types of thefts are considered. This is due to the fact that the use of force, however slight, is used in the process of taking the property. Due to the seriousness of the charge, it is considered a felony but the degree to which it is a felony of, depends on number of factors. For example, the amount of force used is a substantial factor in determining the degree of felony. The more force used to obtain the property, the worse the degree of felony it is.

Violent Crimes Possession of a Prohibited Offensive Weapon

One of the less known Violent Crimes is Possession of a Prohibited Offensive Weapon. In Pennsylvania, it is a misdemeanor of the first-degree if a person is found in possession of what is considered an "offensive weapon", which is defined under title 18 section 908 of the Pa criminal code. Manslaughter This means that if convicted under this statute, a maximum of five years incarcerated maybe imposed. There are a plethora of items that the Commonwealth deem an offensive weapon. These include, but are not limited to metal knuckles, automatic blades including those operated by switch, push button or spring mechanism, and blackjacks which are a type of impact device used for striking. This is an important statute for Pa residents to be aware of because many residents who use a pocket knife in their daily lives, may be in violation of this statute and are not even aware of it. This is because the law has not made a distinction between an automatic knife and what is referred to as an assisted knife.

Ruling could limit use of biometric data to unlock phones

Many people in Pennsylvania are concerned about the threat to personal privacy that can come with technological developments. This is especially true of people who are involved with the criminal justice system as an increasing amount of evidence involves material garnered from a defendant's mobile phone or social media. However, one ruling by a federal judge may recognize greater protections for some mobile content.

Sex Crimes Rape

Sex Crimes such as rape in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is an extremely serious and life changing criminal charge. CYS investigations Rape is graded as a felony in the first degree. Being convicted under this statue, Pa criminal code 3121 (a) (1-5), can result in a sentence of up to 20 years in prison plus an additional 10 years if the act was committed using any type of intoxicating drug. In addition, a fine of $100,000 may be imposed and a conviction can land you on a sex offender registry. If the crime involves a minor and serious bodily injury occurs, a sentence of life in prison may be imposed. In order to be convicted under this statue, the Commonwealth must prove that some form of penetration, however slight, has occurred. A recent redefinition of the law has broadened it and has taken out marriage, gender and level of force as relevant factors for a jury to consider.

Inequalities in misdemeanor sentencing

About 80 percent of the criminal cases adjudicated in Pennsylvania and around the country each year involve defendants who are charged with misdemeanors. These are less serious crimes that are usually punished with probation, fines or brief custodial sentences, but that does not mean that being convicted of a misdemeanor cannot be a life-changing experience. Civil rights advocates have long complained about the harsh treatment received by African-American defendants charged with narcotics felonies, but studies suggest that racial disparities are even greater in misdemeanor cases.

Sex Crimes Unlawful Dissemination of Intimate Image

With the rapid advancement of modern technology, law makers are in the position of having to play catch up in the area of Sex Crimes and the Unlawful Dissemination of Intimate Images. child pornography One such example where lawmakers had to step in and pass legislation in order to address a recent problem was on the phenomenon commonly referred to as "revenge porn". A typical scenario in which this takes place is when two partners break up and one posts sexually explicit images of the other that were sent to them with consent on social media without the person's depicted consent. Officially, it is known as unlawful dissemination of intimate image which is defined as a person commits the offense if, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm a current or former sexual or intimate partner, the person spreads a visual depiction of the partner in a state of nudity or engaged in sexual conduct. This crime can be found in section 3131 of the crimes code. This crime was passed in order to address the underlying issue, consent, which is essential to these cases.

Theft Crimes Burglary

It is a common misconception that in order to be charged with theft crimes such as burglary that the person must take a piece of property from a building in which they have entered. On the contrary, the prosecution does not need to prove that a person physically took a piece of property, only that they were in a building they did not have permission to be in and had intent to commit a crime when they entered that place. robbery Because intent to commit a crime is the most important factor that needs to be established in order to be convicted under this charge, a good defense against a charge of burglary is that there was no intent to commit a crime when the defendant entered. In that case, a related charge of simple trespassing or criminal trespass may apply better to that particular circumstance. While speaking of defenses for the charge of burglary, the statute itself has three built in defenses. The first defense that is stated in the statute is that the building or structure is abandoned. This means that a charge of burglary would not be appropriate in circumstances where the building in which a person did not have permission to be there was abandoned.

Sex Crimes Indecent Exposure

The sex crimes offense of indecent exposure is found in the Pa criminal code 18 section 3127.  when should I call a sex crime lawyer It is defined as a person commits the act of indecent exposure if that person exposes his or her privates in any public place or in any place where other individuals are present under circumstances in which he should know that exposing himself is likely to offend or alarm these other people. An area of importance in this definition is the part which states "in any public place or in any place where there are present other persons". This is an important part of the definition and what makes it separate from a similar charge of open lewdness which is defined in the PA criminal code under section 5901. Open lewdness occurs if he does any lewd act which he knows is likely to be observed by others who would be affronted or alarmed.

Younger immigrants in limbo after policy change

Young immigrants seeking refuge in Pennsylvania and around the country must generally file paperwork to do so before turning 21. Under a government program, it may be possible for youths who were neglected or abused by their parents to ask for a green card and a court-appointed guardian. However, the Trump administration has said that those who are 18 or older may already be too old to participate in the program.

Sex Crimes Sexual Assault

Another major Sex Crimes charge is sexual assault, which is defined under section 3124.1 of the Pennsylvania criminal code. child endangerment It states that a person commits the act of sexual assault when that person engages in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with a complainant without the complainant's consent. Sexual assault is a felony of the second degree and can carry a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment. There are also two separate but related offenses of sexual assault. The first being criminal code 3122.1, statutory sexual assault. A person commits the act of statutory sexual assault when they engage in sexual intercourse with a complainant to whom the person is not married, who is under the age of 16 years and that person is significantly older than the alleged victim. In this instance the grading of the crime is a felony of the second degree. However, if the victim is under the age of 16 and the age gap between the defendant and the victim is above 11 years, then it is a felony of the first degree and carries a sentence of up to 20 years of imprisonment.

Sex Crimes Involuntary Deviant Sexual Intercourse

The sexual offense of involuntary deviant sexual intercourse is a very similar offense to other sex crimes such as rape. This crime of IDSI is defined under section 3123 of the Pa criminal code. CYS investigations The difference between Involuntary Deviant Sexual Intercourse and Rape is that this offense covers more sexual acts and excludes any type of vaginal penetration, which the charge of rape would cover. Acts that would be covered under this statute include sexual intercourse with an animal, any penetration, however slight, with a foreign object, and forcible anal or oral sex. As stated previously it is very similar to the statue of rape. This is an important distinction for prosecutors because if they believe that their case would not fit the criteria for the charge of rape, they can instead charge the accused with the more encompassing charge involuntary deviant sexual intercourse.

Violent Crimes Third degree murder

One of the most serious Violent Crimes in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is Third degree murder.  firearm charges The criminal elements that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction for the murder in the Third degree can be found in Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code under Section 2502. Under section 2502, Third degree murder is somewhat of an odd statute because it is generally defined as what it is not. It is defined as Murder that is committed by a criminal defendant without premeditation and without the intent to kill. A killing done intentionally is First degree Murder which is punishable by life in prison. It is also defined as a murder that is not done while the defendant was committing another violent felony, such as a robbery. This would be Murder in the Second degree which is also punishable by life in prison. Instead Third degree murder is defined as a killing committed by the defendant with malice. Malice is generally defined as with wickedness of heart and requires that the government prove that the defendant did not intend to kill the victim, but was fairly certain that death could occur as a result of his actions.

Violent crimes defense of property

An issue that arises in violent crimes charges is the issue of defense of property. Defense of property basically permits an individual to use reasonable force when he is defending either his personal property (a pocketbook or wallet) or his real property (his home and land).  firearm chargesThe defense of defense of property is explained in section 507 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. That section of the code explains when a criminal defendant can be justified in using force to protect his property. It is important that you should consult with an experienced criminal lawyer before attempting to use force to keep someone from trespassing or entering your property. Frequently police will charge individuals who harm others in the commission of violent crimes even if the accused was acting in the defense of his own property. The laws dealing with defense of property can be complex and confusing, so speak to an aggressive Chester county criminal lawyer today.

How to avoid real estate mistakes during a divorce

One of the biggest challenges divorcing couples face in Pennsylvania is deciding what to do with a co-owned family home. Some options include selling the home and splitting the profit, allowing one spouse to live in the home with the children, having one spouse buy the other out, or nesting.

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