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 consists of several successive steps. Retaining an experienced defense attorney as early in the process will dictate how each of these steps below go.
The police may conduct searches of locations where they believe relevant evidence exists. However, most searches require the police to obtain a search warrant from a judge based on sufficient probable cause before they can legally conduct the search. 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. You may be asked for an interview with the police after you have been arrested. If you are questioned or interrogated by the police while you are in custody, your Miranda Rights are triggered. These rights include the right to have a lawyer present and the right to remain silent, among others.
Always request an attorney if you are questioned while in police custody. The police must stop the interview process and wait until an attorney arrives before resuming the interview. You are fully entitled to exercise these rights and you should not hesitate to do so.
What Happens After You are Arrested in Bucks County?
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. If law enforcement does not permit you to talk with an attorney, or you feel they unfairly delayed you from obtaining an attorney, your rights may have been violated. Any violation of your rights by law enforcement may be grounds for a defense to your charges.
The Preliminary Arraignment
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.
If you are detained without bail or cannot afford the bail set by the court, you will wait in jail until your trial begins. While this scenario is far from ideal, the time you spend in jail awaiting trial will count toward your prison sentence if you are found guilty.
The Preliminary Hearing
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. The judge will decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to hold you for trial.
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 pretrial diversion program. One of our Bucks County criminal defense lawyers can help you argue against the prosecutor and advocate for the dismissal of your charges or a better plea deal.
At a formal arraignment, you will be formally arraigned by a judge. Your charges will be read to you and you will be asked if you wish to plead guilty or not guilty. If you choose to plead guilty, your case will move directly to the sentencing phase and you will waive your right to a trial. Your attorney will typically advise you to plead not guilty while they start building your defense against the circumstances surrounding your arrest, the evidence, how it was collected, and the charges in general.
If no plea agreement is reached and you choose to plea not guilty, the court will schedule a pretrial conference and a trial. During this time, your attorney will exchange information and evidence with the prosecutor so that you can build up your case. This exchange of information is known as discovery. Your attorney may file motions with the court to suppress some of the evidence they receive during the discovery process. Any number of motions may be made to suppress evidence and influence your trial.
The Pretrial Conference
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 pretrial conference may be held. Your lawyer will negotiate with the prosecutor and the prosecutor may offer a “plea bargain.” A plea bargain involves your 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.
A plea bargain is not required. You do not have to accept the plea deal offered by the prosecutor. You may also negotiate the terms of the plea deal if you are inclined to accept but want a better deal. On the other hand, the prosecutors are not required to offer a plea deal. Plea bargains are very common and are necessary to keep the criminal justice system working properly, but whether or not a plea bargain is offered is entirely within the discretion of the prosecutor. Prosecutors may decline to offer a deal, or they may attach an expiration date to their offer. For example, a prosecutor may offer a plea bargain, but the offer will be rescinded if you do not accept before the first day of trial. One of our Bucks County criminal defense lawyers can help you get the best plea deal possible.
Going to Trial in Bucks County Criminal Court
In most cases, you can choose to either request a trial by jury or a bench trial, where a judge will decide the verdict. For ungraded misdemeanors, you have no right to a jury trial and will automatically be assigned a bench trial.
If you are found guilty, you will have a sentencing hearing where the judge will decide the penalties. In some cases, mandatory minimum sentences dictate what the judge must hand down, but often the judge has discretion to decide what the penalty will be. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can argue to reduce your penalties by presenting evidence of your reputation and character. The more mitigating evidence in your favor, the more inclined the judge may be to reduce your sentence. However, the more aggravating factors there are against you, the harsher your punishment may be.
Our Bucks County Criminal Defense Attorneys Regularly Defend Clients Against:
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 may face potential jail time, and felonies are especially serious crimes where you often face mandatory minimum prison sentences. You may be facing multiple charges consisting of both felonies and misdemeanors. The prosecutor must prove each element of each offense beyond a reasonable doubt for you to be found guilty. You could be found guilty of all your charges, none of your charges, or only some of your charges.
Below are just some of the types of charges Bucks County criminal defense lawyer Young Marr & Associates has successfully defended our clients against.
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. These offenses range from misdemeanors to serious felony charges.
Burglary, Robbery, and Theft Charges
According to Pennsylvania law, theft occurs when you take control over property that does not belong to you without the owner’s permission. You generally need to have the intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently. 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 therein. Our Bucks County criminal defense attorneys are prepared to defend your burglary, robbery, and theft charges.
Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic violence-related charges can include a variety of distinctive behaviors including assault, terroristic threats, homicide, harassment, stalking, criminal sexual conduct, and kidnapping. Domestic violence crimes typically occur within the context of a relationship inside your home. Crimes committed by one spouse against the other or by a parent against a child may constitute a crime of domestic violence. The domestic violence defense attorneys at Young Marr & Associates are prepared to defend you.
If you have 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. Drug offenses may be minor misdemeanors or serious felonies. It is crucial that you seek help from one of our Bucks County criminal defense lawyers.
In Pennsylvania, driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) that exceeds .08 results in a DUI charge. The penalties for a DUI or DWI will vary depending on your BAC levels, any injuries sustained by others, if you have any prior DUIs or DWIs, and other factors. You could pay hefty fines or lose your driving privileges. Our criminal defense attorneys are experienced in defending DUI charges and ensuring criminal proceedings are handled fairly.
Murder and Manslaughter Charges
Charges of murder or manslaughter are perhaps the most serious charges a person may face. A defendant may face decades in prison if they are found guilty. Murder charges are divided into degrees, with each degree carrying different levels of penalties. A Bucks County criminal defense attorney 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 Charges
Rape and other sex crime charges can severely impact the lives of those faced with them. Defendants charged with rape or other sexual crimes face lengthy prison terms and may have to register as a sex offender for many years, possibly for life. The sex offender registry is available to the public, so friends, neighbors, and employers may be able to find out you are a registered sex offender. 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.
The traffic violation defense lawyers at Young Marr & Associates can support you if you have been charged with traffic violations. We’ll help you make a plan to avoid penalties including fees, points on your license, and jail time. If you rack up enough points against your license, you may have your license suspended or revoked. We are prepared to help defend against traffic violations of all sorts, including speeding tickets, hit-and-runs, and reckless driving.
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. These crimes typically occur in a business or workplace setting. They include various forms of money laundering, insurance, mail fraud, or racketeering. Depending on how much money was fraudulently stolen or mishandled, your charges could be very serious. Young Marr & Associates’ white-collar crimes defense attorneys are prepared to represent you.
If You’ve Been Arrested, Our Bucks County Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help
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 will not 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 one of our experienced Bucks County criminal defense lawyers at Young Marr & Associates today at (215) 372-8667 for a free consultation.