Bucks County Criminal Lawyer
If you’ve been charged with a crime in Bucks County, PA, you may not know what to do next. Fighting criminal charges can be an exhausting experience. When you are facing criminal charges, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you.
If you or a family member has been arrested or charged with a crime in Bucks County, read on to learn what to do next, or contact the Bucks County criminal defense attorneys at Young Marr & Associates now at (215) 372-8667 for a free consultation.
The Criminal Process in Bucks County, PA
In Pennsylvania, the criminal process consists of multiple stages. Below, we will explain each of these stages and how an experienced Bucks County Criminal Lawyer like those at Young Marr & Associates can help with your case at each stage.
In many cases, prior to making an arrest, the police will conduct an investigation into a crime that has been reported. This investigation will usually involve gathering physical evidence of the alleged crime as well as interviewing potential witnesses and suspects.
If the police attempt to search your home, your car, or your person without a warrant, you should not allow them to do so, and you should immediately contact a lawyer to advise you of what steps you should take to protect your rights. Further, if the police request you to come in for an interview—even if they tell you they do not consider you a suspect—you should know that you have a right to have an attorney present with you during the interview. We strongly suggest you do not speak to the police without an attorney present.
If the police believe they have enough evidence to charge you with a crime, they will file a criminal complaint against you. At this point, you be will placed under arrest. You can also be placed under arrest on the spot if the police have probable cause to charge you, like in the case of an officer who personally sees you committing a theft. In this case, the complaint will be filed subsequent to the arrest. Once arrested, your first call should be to a lawyer who can protect your rights. All persons who have been arrested have the right to an attorney to help them through the charges they face, and they should not speak to the police without their attorney present.
A preliminary arraignment occurs after you have been arrested when you appear before a judge to hear the charges against you. This hearing must occur no more than 72 hours after you have been arrested. At this hearing, the judge will also determine whether you will be released on your own recognizance (without bail), held until you can pay bail, or held with no bail.
At this stage, a lawyer can help you avoid being detained during the criminal process by advocating for you to be released on your own recognizance or for a reasonable amount of bail. Factors taken into consideration by the judge when determining bail include the seriousness of the crime you are charged with, your criminal history, your financial and employment status, your flight risk, and your ties to the community.
No more than 21 days after a preliminary arraignment, a preliminary hearing will be held where the Commonwealth’s attorney will be required to present evidence of the case against you. The standards are lower than at an actual trial, and the prosecutor must only prove that you are more likely than not to have committed the crime with which you are charged for the case to proceed.
Your attorney, on the other hand, will have the opportunity to argue that, based on the evidence or lack thereof, no “probable cause exists” for the charges against you. If this argument is successful, the charges will be dropped. If not, your lawyer will often speak to the prosecutor about the potential to dismiss the charges without a formal arraignment in exchange for entry into a pre-trial diversion program.
If no deal is reached after the preliminary hearing, you will be formally arraigned by a judge. Your charges will be read to you and you will plead guilty or not guilty. Your attorney will typically advise you to plead not guilty for the time being while they request discovery and file motions, such as a motion for suppression of certain evidence.
Once all the motions have been decided by the judge and all evidence has been received by both sides in the form of discovery, a pre-trial conference may be held. Your lawyer will negotiate with the prosecutor and the prosecutor may offer a “plea bargain.” A plea bargain involves you pleading guilty to a lesser charge, or the prosecutor promising to advocate for minimal penalties, in exchange for you waiving your right to a trial.
If you choose to take your case to trial, the Commonwealth will bear the burden of proving all elements of the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt. In most cases, you can choose to request a jury trial or a bench trial, where a judge will decide. For ungraded misdemeanors, you have no right to a jury trial and will automatically be assigned a bench trial. If the choice is yours, your lawyer can advise you on which type of trial might be best in your situation. At trial, both sides will make their cases by presenting evidence and witnesses. At the end, the judge or jury will return a verdict of guilty or not guilty.
If you are found guilty, you will next have a sentencing hearing where the judge will decide what penalties you will face. Sometimes there are mandatory minimum sentences that the judge must hand down, but often the judge has a great amount of discretion to decide what kind of penalty you will face. An experienced lawyer can argue for minimal penalties by presenting evidence of your good character and reputation outside of this incident.
Types of Criminal Charges in Bucks County, PA
In Pennsylvania, a charge can be “graded” as either a summary offense, a misdemeanor, or a felony. Summary offenses are the least serious type of crimes, and usually do not come with the threat of jail time. Misdemeanors are serious crimes where you face potential jail time, and felonies are especially serious crimes where you often face mandatory minimum prison sentences.
Below are just some of the types of charges Bucks County Criminal Lawyer Young Marr & Associates has successfully defended our clients against.
Assault Charge Defense
Assault charges in Pennsylvania are a serious matter and can carry harsh penalties. We have experience defending simple and aggravated against assault charges in Bucks County including assault and battery, assault with a deadly weapon, domestic violence assault, and sexual assault.
Burglary, Robbery, and Theft Charge Defense
According to Pennsylvania law, theft occurs when you take control over property that does not belong to you without the owner’s permission. Robbery occurs when force is used during the commission of a theft. Burglary entails entering or unlawfully remaining inside of a building with the intent to commit a crime. Our Bucks County defense attorneys are prepared to defend your burglary, robbery, and theft charges.
Domestic Violence Charge Defense
Domestic violence-related charges can include a variety of distinctive behaviors including assault, terroristic threats, homicide, harassment, stalking, criminal sexual conduct, and kidnapping. The domestic violence defense attorneys at Young Marr & Associates are prepared to defend you.
Drug Crimes Defense
If you’ve been arrested in Bucks County, PA for drug charges like drug possession, possession of drug paraphernalia, drug distribution/trafficking, or drug manufacturing/cultivation, our drug crimes defense attorneys have the experience to represent you.
DUI/DWI Charge Defense
In Pennsylvania, driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) that exceeds .08 results in a DUI charge. Our criminal defense attorneys are experienced in defending DUI charges and ensuring criminal proceedings are handled fairly.
Murder and Manslaughter Charge Defense
The attorneys at Young Marr & Associates can craft a defense against your murder and/or manslaughter charges while making sure that all your rights are respected throughout the process.
Sexual Crimes and Rape Charge Defense
Rape and other sex crime charges can severely impact the lives of those faced with them. If you are facing charges for sexual crimes or have been arrested on rape charges, an experienced attorney can help fight to protect your rights.
Traffic Violations Defense
The traffic violation defense lawyers at Young Marr & Associates can support you if you’ve been charged with traffic violations. We’ll help you make a plan to avoid penalties including fees, points on your license, and jail time. We are prepared to help defend against traffic violations of all sorts, including speeding tickets, hit-and-runs, and reckless driving.
White-Collar Crime Defense
‘White-Collar Crime’ is an informal title given to a category of crimes that are committed through fraud or dishonesty in the pursuit of financial gains. They include various forms of money laundering, insurance, mail fraud, or racketeering. Young Marr & Associates’ white-collar crimes defense attorneys are prepared to represent you.
Bucks County Criminal Lawyer Offering Free Consultations
You have the right to an attorney from the moment the police place you under arrest, and even before this. Invoking that right is one of the most powerful ways to ensure that you put yourself in the best possible position to mount a strong defense of your innocence.
When you call Young Marr & Associates, we won’t allow authorities to question you and risk the chance of investigators twisting your words and convincing you to admit to charges that you may have had nothing to do with. From the moment you hire our firm to represent you, we go to work. If you or a family member has been arrested on a criminal charge in Bucks County, PA, call Young Marr & Associates today (215) 372-8667 for a free consultation.