One of the most common questions you might ask when charged with a crime is, “what criminal defense lawyer do I chose?”
At Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates, we understand this tough question and have been proudly representing clients with criminal defense in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 20 years. Our highly skilled attorneys and staff are devoted to providing clients with first-rate criminal defense legal services. With our combined and diverse legal expertise, the attorneys of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates are ready to assist you with all your criminal law needs.
Law enforcement agencies and government prosecutors have extensive resources at their disposal. Without adequate representation for the accused, the balance of power within the justice system would become skewed in favor of the government. As it is, fair treatment for criminal defendants depends upon the skill of their defense attorney.
What is Criminal Law?
Criminal Law, unlike civil law, is a system of laws concerned with the punishment of individuals who are charged with crimes. In a civil case, two individuals dispute their rights, but criminal prosecution involves the people deciding whether to punish an individual for his/her conduct or lack of conduct. Criminal law regulates social conduct and proscribes whatever is threatening, harmful, or endangering to the property, health, safety, and moral welfare of people. It includes the punishment of people who violate these laws. Just as the people decide what conduct to punish, they also decide what punishment is appropriate. Accordingly, punishments vary with the severity of the offense – from a simple fine to a loss of freedoms.
In general, Criminal Law asks and seeks to answer the following questions:
- Did the person who was charged commit the crime?
- What crime did they commit?
- Do they have a defense?
Whether you face a felony or you’re fighting a simple traffic violation, at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates, we do our best to get you the treatment and compensation you deserve!
Our Bensalem, PA Criminal Defense Lawyers Handle Felonies and Misdemeanors
Criminal law divides crimes into two main categories: felonies and misdemeanors.
Felonies are considered a more severe offense than a misdemeanor. Felonies are also classified as first-, second-, and third-degree offenses. First-degree felonies are the most serious offenses and third-degree offenses are considered the least serious. Sentencing depends on the degree of the felony involved. A few examples of a felony crime include murder, arson, rape, kidnapping, burglary and terroristic threats.
Misdemeanors are any “lesser” criminal offenses. Misdemeanors are generally punished less severely than felonies and are usually punished with monetary fines. Some examples of misdemeanor crimes include simple assault, disorderly conduct, first DUI/DWI, trespassing, solicitation and vandalism.
Federal vs. State Prosecution in Pennsylvania
The rules change depending on whether the crime is charged in State or Federal Court. Most criminal matters are dealt with in state courts unless the crime occurred on federal property, a federal employee committed the crime, or the criminal activity affects interstate commerce. For the government to have power to regulate behavior, it must have “jurisdiction,” which means the crime occurs within a state’s boundaries, violates a state’s laws, and therefore gives that state the power to prosecute. Likewise, a crime that occurs on federal property authorizes the federal government to deal with the suspect. Some crimes violate both state and federal law, which enables both governments to bring criminal charges.
What Happens After I Have Been Charged with a Crime in Pennsylvania?
Before you speak with the police or any officer of the court about claims of wrongdoing, it’s a good idea to have a criminal lawyer present to defend your rights.
For either a felony or misdemeanor offense, your first court hearing will be called an initial appearance (arraignment). At the initial appearance, the judge will read and if necessary explain the charges filed against you. You will also be advised of your right to legal representation. If you’ve requested counsel or counsel has been appointed, or if you indicate that private counsel will be retained, a plea of not guilty is entered. If you enter a not guilty plea, a trial date will be set.
If you plead guilty, either a date will be set for sentencing or the magistrate or judge will impose probation, fines or other sentences immediately. In some cases, the judge or magistrate may allow a defendant to plead nolo contendere, or no contest. In many jurisdictions, a plea of no contest is equivalent to a guilty plea, except the defendant is not directly admitting guilt.
If you plead not guilty, the judge or magistrate typically sets the amount of bail.
For a felony, you would not enter a plea. The matter is set for preliminary hearing to establish if a crime has been committed and if there is probable cause to believe that you committed the offense(s). The judge or magistrate will also set the amount of bail, if applicable.
During the preliminary hearing, the government must demonstrate to a judge or magistrate that there is sufficient evidence, or probable cause that you committed the crime. If the court finds there is no probable cause, the matter is dismissed. If probable cause is established, the case is transferred to trial court.
Bensalem, PA Criminal Defense Attorneys Offering Free Consultations
With the support of a criminal lawyer, you can raise questions about the basis of the charges you face, and the handling of testimony, evidence and police and court procedures. If you would like to set up an appointment with a criminal law attorney at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates, please contact us at (215) 701-6519. We are in Lower Bucks County at 3554 Hulmeville Road Suite 102, Bensalem, PA 19020, near the Dairy Queen.