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Category Archives: Criminal Law

Pennsylvania Considers Compensation for Prisoners Exonerated in Sex and Violent Crimes Cases

In August 2005, Thomas Doswell was released from prison after serving nearly 20 years for the rape of a 48-year-old woman at a Pittsburgh hospital. A DNA test on semen taken from the victim exonerated him after two decades behind bars. He was denied bail four times because he would not take responsibility for the… Read More »

Pennsylvania Increases Penalties for Child Abuse and Child Porn

In reaction to the sensational Jerry Sandusky and Catholic clergy molestation scandals, the Pennsylvania Senate has approved one more bill in a broad response aimed at stiffening penalties for child pornography and abuse. In December 2013, the Senate approved a bill to increase the degree of child pornography crimes, up to as high as a… Read More »

Plea Bargaining in Federal Court

  Plea bargaining, or the practice of pleading guilty to a lesser charge than that originally lodged, is widely used in the criminal justice system to move cases along and lessen overcrowding in jails. It benefits defendants by reducing the charges and the consequences and enables them to quickly put criminal incidents behind them. But… Read More »

Getting Your Name Off the Sex Offender Registry

The sex offender registry provides an invaluable public service, but sometimes a name on that list doesn’t belong there. If it’s yours, your life has been changed forever, for the worse. While sex offender registration is not a new concept, public access to sex offender databases is relatively new. In response to public outrage over… Read More »

Pennsylvania Judge Eases Lifetime Registration Requirements for Juvenile Sex Offenders

A York County judge has ruled a Pennsylvania law imposing lifetime registration requirements on juvenile sex offenders unconstitutional. In his controversial ruling, Senior Judge John C. Uhler concluded that the registration provision of Pennsylvania’s Sexual Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) prevents the court from considering the many unique attributes of youth offenders and unfairly… Read More »

Sexting: Prank or Pornography?

  Sexting is the transmitting of sexually explicit messages using cell phone text messages. Typically, the messages contain photograph or video links of the person sending them. Popular among teens, some view these messages as high-tech flirting or pranks played on friends. But the legislatures of many states, including Pennsylvania, see it quite differently. Sexting… Read More »

When Is a Crime Prosecuted in Federal Court Rather Than State Court?

  Many crimes can be prosecuted under both state and federal law. So what determines which path prosecutors pick for a particular crime? It turns out that multiple factors affect this decision. Geographical jurisdiction: If your case crosses state lines, you may be looking at federal prosecution. Interstate crimes may include white collar crimes, child… Read More »

Drug Crimes in Pennsylvania: What to Expect When Prosecuted

  You face serious consequences when police prosecute you for the unlawful possession, distribution, cultivation or manufacture of a controlled substance in Pennsylvania. Depending on the quality and quantity of drugs found in your possession, the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, Drug Strike Force or Drug Task Force may be called to investigate you… Read More »

Drug Crimes in Pennsylvania: What is Drug Trafficking?

  The only thing that separates a simple possession charge from a drug trafficking charge is the amount of drugs seized from your home, vehicle or person. If you possess more of a drug than you could reasonably use yourself, it is assumed that you probably will sell the drug to dealers who will distribute… Read More »

How to Respond to a Misdemeanor Charge

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor crime, you will have to answer “yes” on applications that ask whether you have been convicted of a criminal offense. Do not plead guilty to a misdemeanor crime without consulting a Philadelphia misdemeanors attorney. Depending on the facts of your case, your charge may be reduced or dismissed…. Read More »