Upper Darby Criminal Defense Lawyer
Nearly everyone knows what crime is – but many Pennsylvanians have never been involved in a criminal court matter. Whether you’ve been arrested, charged with a crime, learned of a warrant for your arrest, or otherwise find yourself close to a criminal matter, it’s vital to talk to a Philadelphia criminal attorney as soon as possible.
At MyPhillyLawyer, our experienced criminal defense attorneys have experience representing clients in a wide range of criminal matters. For each client, we fight to protect legal rights, bring all the relevant evidence to light, and secure the best possible outcome.
Charges Upper Darby Residents May Face
Every state has dozens of criminal laws, and Pennsylvania is no exception. Here are some of the types of charges a criminal defense lawyer can help you face:
Theft is a broad category. Theft occurs when someone takes property from someone else without returning it. Some commonly-known types of theft include:
- Embezzlement and other financial crimes
- Burglary and robbery
- Grand theft auto
These charges are serious, and some carry potential sentences of years in prison. The help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer is essential in theft cases.
In the eyes of the law, driving a motor vehicle on public streets is a privilege, not a right. For many Upper Darby residents, being able to drive legally is also a necessity – to get to work, care for family, run errands, and perform other essential tasks.
When someone is accused of a traffic offense, the consequences may exceed simply paying a fine. For example, a speeding or traffic ticket can also result in increased insurance rates or license penalties.
The court treats paying a ticket as an admission of guilt. An experienced lawyer can help you build a case on your behalf.
Charges of Violence
Violence charges range from simple assault to premeditated murder. One commonly-charged violent crime is domestic violence. In a domestic violence case, the state must prove that the person charged committed a violent act against one or more victims with whom they were in a romantic or other domestic relationship.
Violence charges can be challenging to navigate. Not only must you prove what happened, but you may also face negative impacts on your reputation and other consequences – even if you did not break the law. Your lawyer can help you protect your privacy during this time.
Pennsylvania state and federal law contain a range of prohibitions against possessing, using, transporting, storing, handling, selling, buying, or sharing various kinds of drugs. Some of these laws even extend to “drug paraphernalia,” such as certain types of pipes and other items. Drug possession laws are also quite broad at the state and federal levels.
If you’re facing any drug-related charge, don’t fight it alone. Work with an experienced lawyer who understands how to navigate state and federal drug law.
Like drug laws, weapons laws in Pennsylvania and the federal level can be complex. Weapons laws are also broad. Some defendants face weapons charges simply because a weapon was later found near the scene of the alleged crime – even if nobody knew the weapon was there at the time and it was never used.
Refrain from letting the complicated nature of weapons charges prevent you from reaching the best possible outcome in your case. Work with an experienced lawyer for help.
Many drivers believe that drunk driving charges are an open and shut case – especially if they failed a roadside sobriety test or a breath test. These tests require precision to give accurate results. Many other factors in a drunk driving case must also be addressed to ensure the court reaches a result based on the facts. Your criminal defense lawyer can challenge police and prosecutors to prove every element of their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Juvenile matters, like vandalism and theft, are often the result of impulsive decision-making or a lapse in judgment. These are normal mental states for teens who are still learning to navigate the world. Juvenile courts recognize that teens are not adults – yet a juvenile record can still hinder a teen’s ability to move forward and live out their dreams.
A juvenile matter can also be an opportunity to learn and move forward. An experienced Upper Darby juvenile defense lawyer can help ensure that your case becomes an opportunity, not an obstacle.
Facing Criminal Charges in Upper Darby
Upper Darby Township, Pennsylvania, is a heavily populated area. Yet Upper Darby’s crime numbers sometimes dramatically outweigh those in other areas.
For example, in 2016, the FBI’s crime statistics recorded 1,354 property crime cases in Upper Darby Township – a community of nearly 83,000 people. Yet the FBI also recorded 1,147 points of property crime in Upper Merion Township, whose population was only about 29,000. The city of Lancaster saw more than 2,000 property crimes in 2016, despite a population of just 59,340 – smaller than Upper Darby.
One thing all residents of Upper Darby Township have in common is: When they face criminal charges, they have the right to work with a criminal defense attorney.
Those who face criminal charges can also work to protect themselves. If you’re facing charges or you suspect that you might be arrested or charged, keep these tips in mind:
- Call a lawyer as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more difficult it can be for your defense lawyer to protect your rights, gather evidence in your favor, and build the most robust case. If there is a warrant for your arrest, your lawyer can prepare you to face the process of submitting to law enforcement so that everything goes smoothly.
- When police say, “you have the right to remain silent,” use it. The right to remain silent is a right to protect yourself during an arrest or police investigation. By the time police read you your rights, they are already looking for evidence demonstrating your guilt – whether or not you committed an illegal act. By saying nothing, you prevent others from twisting your words against you.
- Share evidence with your lawyer if you have it. The evidence you may have will depend on your case. For instance, in a financial fraud case, you may have bank statements or account books with evidence. It is essential to protect these items from destruction or loss. Your lawyer can help keep this evidence safe.
- Stay off social media. Statements you make on social media about your criminal matter are complicated to keep out of court. Yet it is also tough to avoid jumping in when others question your reputation or motives. Help yourself during this time by taking a break from social media.
You can also benefit from understanding how the Pennsylvania criminal process works. In Pennsylvania, criminal cases follow the same primary process:
- First, a crime or suspected crime occurs. Police, prosecutors, and courts respond to the suspicion that a law has been violated.
- Next, police typically investigate the incident. They may arrest one or more suspects immediately or gather evidence until they can prove that a magistrate should issue an arrest warrant.
- Any arrested person is booked at a local jail. Booking includes recording personal information, fingerprints, and photographs. A person being booked may also receive a medical screening.
- Within 72 hours of arrest, the defendant receives a preliminary arraignment. At the arraignment, the defendant learns of the official charges they face. They receive a copy of the complaint that provides details of these charges. The defendant is advised of their rights, and a preliminary hearing is scheduled.
- At the preliminary hearing, the prosecution must make a “prima facie” case. In other words, the Commonwealth must demonstrate that it is more likely than not that a crime was committed, and it is more likely than not that the defendant committed it. The case may be dismissed if the prosecutor cannot make that case. However, it is more common for the case to move to the trial stage.
- If the case moves toward trial, the defendant, their attorney, and the prosecuting attorney will appear before the judge at a pretrial conference. Some defendants choose to take a plea at this conference, while others prefer to go to trial. Your lawyer will provide advice and recommendations, but you will decide whether or not to plead.
- Most Pennsylvania criminal cases never go to trial. For those that do, however, the trial may be before a judge and jury (a jury trial) or a judge alone (a bench trial). At both types of trial, the Commonwealth must prove that the defendant committed every element of the charged crime or crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. Your attorney can also present any affirmative defenses on your behalf, such as self-defense.
A person who is found not guilty at trial is discharged from the court system. If a person is found guilty, they are then sentenced. Pennsylvania law determines the length and type of sentence, with some leeway allowed for the judge to address specific defendants’ situations. Your attorney can help you make a strong case for the most appropriate sentence.
How an Upper Darby Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
The criminal justice system is complex. These complex rules ensure that trials are fair and evidence is preserved. But these complex rules can feel anything but fair when facing a criminal investigation or criminal charges.
You need an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. The Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys of MyPhillyLawyer can help. We will help you understand the law and your rights. We dig aggressively into each client’s case so that we can provide the most robust defense possible. Contact us today to learn more.