Misdemeanors are generally not considered the most serious offenses on the books, but they can still cause serious problems for criminal defendants. You should speak to an attorney about fighting your misdemeanor charges just as vigorously as if they were felonies.
Misdemeanors are usually designated by statute or are crimes that may be punished with at least a year of jail time. Although individual misdemeanor charges might not carry the harshest penalties, multiple misdemeanors can quickly add up to serious time behind bars, and an attorney can help you defend yourself. Possible defense tactics you and your lawyer can explore include suppressing illegal evidence, arguing that prosecutors cannot meet their burden of proof, or claiming a justification for the offense. If a defendant is convicted, the penalties might range from about 1 to 5 years in jail.
If you have been charged with misdemeanor offenses, you might be up against serious penalties. Our Bucks County misdemeanor defense lawyers can help you fight the charges and clear your good name. For a free review of the case, call Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (215) 372-8667.
What Are Misdemeanor Charges in Bucks County
Criminal charges in Pennsylvania are divided into 3 broad categories: felonies, misdemeanors, and summary offenses. Summary offenses are the least serious and are often met with tickets or citations and rarely punished with jail time. Felonies are perhaps the most serious criminal charges, and some felonies can be punished with decades behind bars. Misdemeanors fall somewhere in the middle. Even so, misdemeanor charges should not be disregarded.
Misdemeanors are defined under 18 Pa.C.S. § 106(b). Generally, a crime is a misdemeanor if it is designated as such by statute or if the applicable penalties fall within a certain range. Misdemeanors are broken down even further into 3 subcategories: Class A, B, and C misdemeanors.
Misdemeanor charges tend to apply in less severe cases, but that does not mean that misdemeanor charges are not serious. Misdemeanor charges might apply to violent and non-violent offenses alike, although violent offenses are more likely to be met with more serious misdemeanor charges, such as Class A. If you are unsure about what kind of charges you might be facing, contact our Bucks County misdemeanor defense lawyers for help.
Possible Defenses for Misdemeanor Charges in Bucks County
Misdemeanor charges must be handled carefully and as soon as possible. Defendants sometimes brush these charges off because they seem less severe, but this could not be further from the truth. Misdemeanor charges require aggressive defense tactics from qualified legal professionals like our Bucks County misdemeanor defense lawyers.
Suppressing Tainted Evidence
One method that should be explored in your case is filing pretrial motions to suppress tainted evidence. Tainted evidence includes evidence that was illegally seized or violates the rules regarding evidence admissibility. Knowing whether the evidence in your case is tainted might be challenging, and you should talk to an attorney about your situation as soon as possible.
One common reason that a lot of evidence becomes tainted is that the police seized it in violation of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. If the police seized evidence in your case without a warrant or a valid exception to the warrant rule, the evidence might be tainted and should be suppressed.
Our Bucks County misdemeanor defense lawyers can work to suppress evidence by filing pretrial motions and having hearings on the matter. If we can convince the judge that the evidence is indeed tainted, the judge might have it suppressed, and it cannot be used against you in your trial. If enough evidence is suppressed, the prosecutors in your case might drop the charges for lack of evidence.
Prosecutors Cannot Meet the Burden of Proof
Another potential defense tactic involves examining the elements of the specific criminal charges in your case and determining whether the prosecutors can prove each element. For example, suppose a defendant is charged with simple assault for negligently causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon. Next, suppose the prosecutors cannot produce evidence of the deadly weapon, a necessary element of the charged offense. In that case, you and your attorney can argue that the prosecutors cannot meet their burden of proof and that the charges should be dropped or dismissed.
The criminal elements in your case are unique to your charges, and our Bucks County misdemeanor defense attorneys can review these elements with you. To meet their burden of proof, prosecutors must prove each element of the charged offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high burden to meet, and pointing out the shortcoming of the prosecutor’s case might mean the difference between walking free and going to jail.
In some cases, the prosecutors can easily prove each element of the charged offenses beyond a reasonable doubt. At that point, you might be able to defend yourself by justifying your actions. According to 18 Pa.C.S. § 503, a justification defense might apply if the defendant’s actions were necessary to avoid harm to themselves or another. The harm avoided must have been greater than the harm caused by the defendant’s actions, and there must not be any laws or statutes that bar justification as a possible defense for the charged offenses.
Potential Penalties for Misdemeanor Charges in Bucks County
The penalties for misdemeanor offenses are not quite as serious as felony charges, but they might still be significant. In many cases, defendants are charged with multiple misdemeanors, and the total possible jail time is severe. Our Bucks County misdemeanor defense lawyers can help you fight the charges and hopefully avoid these harsh penalties.
Under 18 Pa.C.S. § 1104, each class of misdemeanor charges comes with a unique penalty range. Class C misdemeanors, the least severe, may be punished by no more than 1 year in jail. For Class B misdemeanors, defendants face up to 2 years in jail. Finally, Class A misdemeanors – only one step below felonies – may be punished by up to 5 years in jail.
Call Our Bucks County Misdemeanor Defense Lawyers for Help
Misdemeanor charges could send a defendant to jail for a long time. Our Bucks County misdemeanor defense attorneys can help you determine the best defense to fight your charges. For a free case evaluation, call Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (215) 372-8667.