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Category Archives: Criminal Law

Your Rights Against Illegal Search and Seizure in Pennsylvania

The U.S. and Pennsylvania constitutions generally prohibit the government from searching you or your property unless they have probable cause. That sounds like a clear-cut rule but federal and state courts have issued numerous decisions over the years that have carved out exceptions and other contingencies that can significantly affect your rights. While the federal… Read More »

What is the Crime of “Sextortion” and What Are the Penalties?

Sexual extortion — or “sextortion” — occurs when a person forces someone else to engage in sexually related conduct under threat of exposing private or personal information. Pennsylvania made sextortion a criminal offense in 2020. Pennsylvania law sets forth these examples of conduct that is considered to be sextortion: Harming or threatening to harm the… Read More »

Pennsylvania Initiating New Regulations on Ghost Guns

Governor Tom Wolf has signaled that Pennsylvania will implement a state-level version of a new Biden Administration rule designed to cut down on the proliferation of “ghost guns.” Ghost guns are homemade firearms that do not have serial numbers, which makes them nearly impossible to trace. Also called privately made firearms (PMFs), ghost guns are… Read More »

Justice Department Cracking Down on Coronavirus Aid Fraud as Losses Top $8 Billion

The U.S. Department of Justice is taking stringent measures to combat widespread fraud it has discovered in connection with federal aid programs adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The alleged fraud, which touches nearly all types of aid provided for families, workers and businesses, amounts to at least $8 billion, according to the DOJ. In response,… Read More »

Potential Defenses to Child Pornography Possession and Distribution Charges

Pennsylvania and federal laws prohibit the intentional possession and/or distribution of child pornography. Law enforcement agencies conduct long and detailed investigations to gather as much information as possible before moving in to arrest an alleged offender, often through so-called sting operations. A criminal prosecution can include a wide range of charges related to using or… Read More »

Illegal Fentanyl Dominates Drug Deaths in Philadelphia

Fentanyl, an extremely powerful and addictive synthetic opioid, is by far the leading cause of unintentional overdose deaths in Philadelphia. This grim reality is part of the opioid epidemic that continues to grip the nation. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) reported that of 214 people dying in 2020 of drug overdoses, 86 percent… Read More »

Defending Against Charges of Possessing or Distributing Child Pornography

Child pornography encompasses a range of criminal conduct under Pennsylvania and federal law. Prosecutions are typically the product of long, wide-ranging investigations that can result in multiple charges. Defending yourself against child pornography allegations demands having an attorney who is knowledgeable in state and federal law and is experienced practicing in courts at both levels…. Read More »

How Online Interactions with Minors Can Lead to Criminal Charges

The internet makes it easy to find and connect with people from all over the world. You become Facebook friends with someone, follow them on Instagram or TikTok, or DM them on Twitter or Snapchat. Plenty of online conversations are harmless. But if the person you are talking to is under 18, you could be… Read More »

Domestic Violence Accusations Rose Sharply During the Pandemic

Pandemic-related lockdowns and resulting isolation sparked an increase in reported domestic violence incidents in Philadelphia and across the country over the past year, according to national and local authorities. This increase has swelled the number of people needing a legal defense against such accusations. The National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice said in February… Read More »

Prosecutions Under 1960s Civil Disorder Law Shows Broad Reach of Federal Jurisdiction

Amid the rash of racial injustice protests nationwide in 2020, a federal statute enacted in response to the civil unrest of the late 1960s has come into play again. The Civil Disobedience Act of 1968 has been invoked by federal prosecutors in cases across the country. In Philadelphia, a federal grand jury recently indicted four… Read More »