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Cranberry Township Legal Blog

Defendants' rights in sexual assault cases

A person charged with college student crimes, including sexual assault and date rape, has constitutional rights. Pennsylvania courts must protect these rights to due process.

Criminal trials are not intended to determine whether defendants are good or bad or whether they should be punished. The prosecution, identified as the Commonwealth, must prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, prosecutors must prove that the accused did certain acts at a specific time and place.

4 tips for having a successful collaborative divorce

Your divorce does not need to waste your time and money. When you choose to get a collaborative divorce, not only can you save some cash and get through the process more quickly, but you will deal with less stress. However, divorcing collaboratively requires some work and determination if you want it to be successful which is why a collaborative team of professionals is essential to a successful outcome.

If you are about to get a collaborative divorce, here are some tips to help you get through the process.

Drug charges can leave students facing serious penalties

Criminal law and its enforcement does not stop at the boundary of a college campus. Drug offenses are one of the most potentially serious student crimes with long-term consequences.

Colleges are classified as drug-free school zones. Conviction of delivery or possession with intent to deliver within 1,000 feet of a college or university campus carries a minimum sentence of two years and a maximum of four years imprisonment. Selling drugs to a person under 18 adds another one year of incarceration.

Student in PFA cases escapes criminal charges

Protection from abuse (PFA) orders provide protection for families and other individuals, such as college students, from stalking behavior or assault. Even with these protections, proving that an alleged perpetrator should be criminally prosecuted for the underlying crime requires more evidence.

A county court may issue a PFA which is a civil order to protect adults and children from physical or sexual abuse perpetrated by members of a family or household. A PFA prohibits a perpetrator from contacting or being in the proximity of victims and family. A sexual violation PFA may be issued in Pennsylvania if the alleged perpetrator committed a sexual violence act, which includes most sexual offenses and sexual contact with children. A person may face criminal prosecution for the underlying offense if the crime is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Your rights when stopped by police

Individuals have constitutional and legal rights when law enforcement stops or questions them. However, a criminal defense may be jeopardized when a suspect does not firmly assert them.

Generally, a person has a right to remain silent and does not have to talk to the police or anyone else, even if a person believes they are unable to leave, under arrest, or in jail. However, judges can usually order a person to answer questions.

Lawsuit takes on driver's license suspensions

A criminal defense against drug charges is vital for a person if they hope to keep their freedom, avoid fines, and forestall a criminal record. However, Pennsylvania is one of 12 states that also imposes other long-term consequences for these convictions by suspending a driver's license for anywhere between six months and two years. This suspension may be imposed even if the crime was unrelated to driving or even if it concerned possession of small amounts of drugs.

The suspension law is a consequence of the federal government's war on drugs in the 1990s. Congress passed a law in 1991 threatening highway funding to states that did not suspend driver's licenses for drug convictions.

3 things you can do to make your divorce less frustrating

Now that you and your spouse have come to terms with your relationship being over, you might feel anxious about filing for divorce. Though no one really wants to be the first to pull the trigger, neither of you wants to go through a bitter separation. Your friends and relatives in Butler and Allegheny Counties are probably telling you to prepare for the drama that often comes with divorce. But if you plan things carefully, you might not have to deal with high drama.

Divorce is often only as difficult as you and your partner make it. There may be things you do not see eye-to-eye on, but it is possible for you to work things out through collaboration and negotiation. Here are some suggestions to help keep your divorce from dragging on and becoming unpleasant. 

Gaps in protection from abuse orders

Pennsylvania's temporary order for protection from abuse, obtained from a judge, provides some protections to spouses from abuse. Despite these orders, victims may choose to face the risk of returning to these relationships or face other peril.

Even with the entry of a PFA order, victims still face the risk of violence and threats. Because a PFA is a civil order, criminal penalties are inapplicable until an abuser violates an order. If that occurs, then they may be punished for criminal contempt. However, abusers may still return home and commit harm despite their violation of the order.

Breath test refusal will cost driver more money in 2018

A driver's refusal to submit to a blood or breath test for suspected drunk driving may be profitable for Pennsylvania police. Effective January 11th, convicted drunk drivers will have to pay a restoration fee for their license if they refused these tests. This is another important reason to have an effective criminal defense against drunk driving charges when accused of these types of offenses.

In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that the police cannot obtain blood samples without a warrant or driver's consent. In response, Senate Bill 553 was passed, which imposed these restoration fees in addition to making other changes to Pennsylvania's DUI laws.

Proximity may not justify seizure of alleged drug money

Having an inadequate criminal defense has long-term consequences. Forfeiture of money allegedly involved in drug crimes is one possible consequence. However, the state Supreme Court recently ruled that prosecutors cannot simply prove that cash and illegal drugs were in the same place to justify the seizure of money.

In that case, Pennsylvania State Police stopped a New Jersey resident in August 2009 because of tailgating while driving with three passengers. After smelling marijuana, the Trooper received consent to search the car and found ecstasy pills and a small amount of marijuana. Additionally, he confiscated $34,440 hidden behind a side door.

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Haller & Imbarlina, P.C.
20120 Route 19, Suite 208
Gigliotti Plaza
Cranberry Township, PA 16066

Phone: 724-935-0820
Fax: 724-779-6299
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