Don't Let a Criminal Charge Disrupt Your Life

Getting convicted for a criminal charge has far-reaching consequences that can impact your life indefinitely. Make sure you have an experienced criminal lawyer near you to defend your interests.

What is Criminal Law?

At its core, criminal law seeks to keep people safe by deterring wrongful conduct. As a result, the criminal law system establishes the rules defining behavior classified as a crime. It also specifies how local, state, and federal governments prosecute individuals committing those crimes.

Although defined by statutes, crimes vary by jurisdiction. So, what's considered a crime in one state or county may not be in another state or county. However, the Model Penal Code (MPC), adopted in 1962, serves as a guideline for defining criminal acts.

Although no state follows the MPC entirely, it serves as a foundation for two-thirds of U.S. states, including Pennsylvania.

The U.S. Code lists all federal crimes. In addition, you should check your local penal codes for a list of crimes in your state or local government. However, it's best to speak with a criminal lawyer near you if you've committed a potential crime in your jurisdiction.

Criminal Law vs. Civil Law

As mentioned, criminal law protects the public from wrongdoings. The state or federal government prosecutes criminal cases. So, you'll want to enlist counsel from a criminal lawyer in a criminal case.

On the other hand, civil cases arise when one party initiates a claim against another for damages. For example, civil law governs actions relating to breach of contract, defamation, negligence, or wrongful death.

Attorneys file civil cases. These cases can involve general practice lawyers or attorneys versed in specific legal arenas like family law, real estate law, or employment law.

Other Distinctions Between Civil and Criminal Cases

  • Burden of Proof: Plaintiffs and their attorneys must prove the facts by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning it's more than 50% likely the plaintiff committed the offense. In criminal cases, the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, making it a higher standard of proof vs. civil cases.
  • Punishment: In a civil suit, the plaintiff typically receives compensation for damages from the defendant. However, in criminal cases, the defendant faces fines, jail time, or, at times, the death penalty.
  • Verdicts: Criminal charges require a unanimous verdict from a jury. Conversely, civil actions don't need a unanimous decision.
  • Appeals: The defendant can appeal a decision regarding a criminal conviction, whereas the defendant and plaintiff can appeal a civil case.

It's critical to note that criminal and civil cases are not mutually exclusive. For example, suppose you're convicted of a DUI violation that includes personal injury. In that case, the victim has the right to file a civil suit for damages relating to injuries from the accident.

Consult a Criminal Defense Attorney for Summary Offenses or Misdemeanor Charges

Our criminal defense lawyers represent clients with summary offenses and misdemeanor charges. Summary Offenses are considered any minor crime in Pennsylvania. Misdemeanors are considered more serious crimes and categorized by degrees—first-degree (most serious) and third-degree (least severe). Misdemeanors can result in mandatory minimum prison time in Pennsylvania and a host of fines.

Summary Offenses in Pennsylvania

You can be charged with various minor crimes in the Commonwealth. Here are several common offenses:

    • Underage drinking
    • Harassment
    • Disorderly conduct
    • Public urination
    • Public drunkenness/intoxication
    • Traffic offenses
      • Speeding
      • Illegal parking
      • Going through a red light
    • Retail theft (first offense, less than $150 value)
    • Illegal use of shopping carts
    • Ticket scalping
    • Opening fire hydrants
    • Not adhering to dog laws
    • Criminal mischief
    • Obstructing a highway
    • Defiant trespassing

Misdeamenor Charges in Pennsylvania

As mentioned, misdemeanors fall under first-degree and third-degree categories. Typical misdemeanors include:

    • Animal neglect
    • Harassment
    • Criminal trespass for refusal to leave on orders
    • Device theft
    • Disorderly conduct
    • False identification
    • Fictitious police reports
    • Invasion of privacy
    • Nonpayment of wages less than $2,000
    • Obstructing emergency services
    • Online stalking
    • Tampering with fire hydrants
    • Using a fake ID to buy alcohol
    • Simple Assault
    • Carrying an unlicensed firearm
    • Stalking

Our Norristown and Doylestown Criminal Lawyers Help with These Common Offenses

Talk to our criminal lawyers if you're facing criminal charges in Bucks, Montgomery counties, or the greater Philadelphia area. They can help with these frequent concerns.

We Can Support You with a DUI Defense

Unfortunately, drunken driving is an all-too-typical crime, though fortunately, fatalities have steadily declined. Adults 21-29 represent one-third of DUI arrests. In Pennsylvania, the DUI arrest rate was 383 per 100,000 citizens in 2019, according to the FBI.

Philadelphia ranked 23rd in the nation among cities with the highest rate of drivers with a DUI.

A drunken driving conviction can lead to costly legal fees and higher insurance rates. Worst case, serious injury or dyou'rean lead to prison time. If you're involved in a drunken driving incident, talk to a DUI lawyer in our Doylestown or Norristown law offices.

Our Traffic Ticket Lawyers Support Motor Vehicle Violations

Apart from DUI violations, other frequent traffic violations involve:

    1. Speeding
    2. Reckless Driving
    3. Distracted Driving
    4. Running a Red Light

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) records PA drivers and their violations. Generally, those violations carry points that can lead to suspension of your license. You can learn more about its point system here.

Our Bucks and Montgomery County traffic ticket lawyers may be able to reduce your points.

Criminal Law Concerns Requiring a Drug Defense Lawyer

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NSDAS), 244,000 Americans go to prison annually for drug-related crimes. Moreover, more than a quarter of all arrests in the U.S. are related to drug offenses.

Drug offenses can typically involve:

The penalties can be steep. Conviction penalties for drug possession in Pennsylvania for first-time

  1. Possession of Marijuana
  2. Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  3. Possession of a Controlled Substance

 offenders include misdemeanor charges with up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Subsequent offenses result in up to a three-year prison term with a maximum fine of $25,000.

Our drug defense lawyers handle the possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia throughout eastern PA counties, including Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, Philadelphia, Lehigh, etc.

Support Your Child with a Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer

In 2021, more than 11,000 juvenile delinquency cases opened in the Commonwealth. Philadelphia had more than 1,500 new cases, Bucks County had nearly 300, and Montgomery County saw 365 new cases.

Typically, those juvenile cases involve theft. Drug abuse, disorderly conduct, and curfew violations are also frequent violations.

If charged as delinquent, your child faces a disposition that can include treatment programs and imposition of conditions for remediation. They could also face fines and restitution costs.

Contact our juvenile criminal defense lawyers immediately if your child faces a criminal law violation.

Our Norristown and Doylestown Criminal Lawyers Are Here to Help

Contact a criminal lawyer in our Bucks County and Montgomery County law offices if you've been criminally charged.

They can help you understand the immediate and future consequences of actions you may take, like talking to the police, pleading, and testifying. They'll also help devise a defense strategy to support your case.

You can count on our criminal defense lawyers to be by your side every step of the way. Call our Doylestown or Norristown law offices now.

Criminal Law Attorneys

Michael A. Luongo

Michael A. Luongo business litigation attorney in High Swartz's doylestown law office

Bucks county Business Litigation attorney Michael A. Luongo also practices personal injury, criminal defense, and in our PA municipal practice.

Shari R. Gelfont Williams

shari gelfont williams at high swartz llp doylestown law office

Bucks County Attorney with 25+ years' experience in litigation with a focus on family law, estate planning, and business disputes.

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