“What am I looking at?” The question of sentencing.

  When I meet clients facing criminal charges, the number one question I almost always get is: “What am I looking at?” Sentencing is the pressing question on the minds of any person accused of committing a crime, and that is for good reason because the criminal law has the potential to affect a person’s freedom. In Pennsylvania, our courts … Read More

Character Evidence: Not to be taken lightly

“‘Evidence of good character is substantive and positive evidence, not a mere make weight to be considered in a doubtful case, and, . . . is an independent factor which may of itself engender reasonable doubt or produce a conclusion of innocence.’” Commonwealth v. Luther, 463 A.2d 1073 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1983). Character evidence: it’s powerful stuff.  Too often criminal … Read More

Jury bias sees the light of day

The verdict has come down.  Guilty!  The accused is in disbelief.  The question arises: why did the jury decide this way?  How can this be? As is typical, defense counsel speaks to the jury afterward.  Some jurors stay behind to discuss the case while others go on their way.  But of those who stick around some reveal heart-sickening details: another … Read More

License Suspension for Drug Convictions: Is that really a “conviction”?

Pennsylvania’s Vehicle Code mandates a driver’s license suspension of “any person . . . convict[ed] of any offense involving the possession, sale, delivery, offering for sale, holding for sale or giving away of any controlled substance under the laws of the United States, this Commonwealth or any other state.”  75 Pa.C.S. § 1532(c). This is a surprise to many facing … Read More

Round Two: The Appeal

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice estimated that 69,348 state criminal appeals were resolved nationwide. On average, accounting for 143 appellate courts, that’s approximately 484 criminal appeals per court—a little over one appeal per day. See Report of U.S. Dept. of Justice (Sept. 2015) here: https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/casc.pdf Appellate litigation makes up a substantial portion of our justice system, and it … Read More

The Motion to Suppress: A Necessary and Important Defense Tool.

“In the jealous regard for maintaining the integrity of individual rights, the [Supreme] Court gave life to Madison’s prediction that ‘independent tribunals of justice . . . will be naturally led to resist every encroachment upon rights expressly stipulated for in the Constitution by the declaration of rights.’”  Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643, 647 (1961). The Exclusionary Rule.  More … Read More

Surprise! The Life of a Criminal Case After a Preliminary Hearing

The preliminary hearing is a critical but often frustrating phase for defendants going through the criminal-justice system.  While on the one hand the preliminary hearing can be a prime opportunity to resolve a case from going any further at the expense of the defendant’s reputation and pocketbook, as I explain to my clients (more times than not), the preliminary hearing … Read More

Anything You “Type” Can Be Used Against You

Social media is increasingly becoming a larger component of our lives. Because more of us are preserving our daily activities on various social media platforms, there is a concern that access to those postings could have drastic effects upon the outcome of legal proceedings.  Fortunately, an attorney’s subpoena power is not sufficient to produce that information, however there are procedures … Read More

Protecting You From Your Past

Your past can haunt you!  That’s true in life, and it can be true in the courtroom.  Take Bill Cosby as an example. Bill Cosby is facing trial on sexual-assault charges related to one alleged victim.  As part of that case, the prosecution wants to call 13 other women as witnesses who allege that Cosby also assaulted them before the … Read More

How Your Rights May Hinge Upon “Momentary and Minor” Violations of the Law

How Your Rights May Hinge Upon “Momentary and Minor” Violations of the Law

Perhaps one of the most important rights to be guaranteed under both state and federal constitutions is the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. This right places a check upon the government so that it may not whimsically interfere with our personal space. However, when it comes to driving, drivers should be wary that the most “momentary … Read More