Being charged with a crime often feels like the lowest point in a person’s life. The process can be so overwhelming that you do not know what to do or who can help you.
If you are arrested for a crime, your defense efforts should begin immediately. When the police tell you anything you say can be used against you, they mean it. Refrain from answering questions beyond basic details about your identification and demand to see a lawyer. Potential criminal charges include misdemeanors and felonies of varying degrees. While misdemeanors are often less severe, felonies are incredibly serious and harshly penalized. Your best defense depends on the unique details of your situation, and an attorney can help you figure out the best way to strategize for your case. If an acquittal is unlikely, your attorney might instead help you negotiate a plea agreement.
Being charged with a crime is incredibly difficult, but a good lawyer can help you reach the other side of this ordeal. Call our Delaware County criminal defense lawyers for a free evaluation of your case. Call Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane at (215) 372-8667.
What to Do if You Are Arrested in Delaware County
Many people are shocked when they are arrested for a crime and might be unaware they were being investigated. Other times, defendants know the police are looking into them about something and anticipate an arrest or other interaction with law enforcement. Either way, you must know how to conduct yourself with the police. Remember, the police are not on your side and are not your friends during an arrest.
Once you are arrested, the police will book you into custody and take down information about you to verify your identity. After that, they might conduct custodial interrogation, which involves asking you questions about the alleged crime for which you were arrested. Before questioning can commence, the police must first inform you of your Miranda rights, including your right to remain silent and have a lawyer present.
You must invoke these rights clearly and immediately. Law enforcement sometimes tries to convince suspects that answering a few questions will clear everything up, and then they can go home. Do not fall for these tricks. Remain silent, demand an attorney, and call our Delaware County criminal defense lawyers for help right away.
Potential Criminal Charges and Penalties in Delaware County
In Pennsylvania, most criminal offenses are charged as misdemeanors or felonies. Felonies are some of the most severe charges on the books, but misdemeanors are nothing to disregard. Many defendants are charged with a mix of both categories, and our Delaware County criminal defense lawyers can assist you.
What distinguishes a felony from a misdemeanor is how these offenses are punished. Under 18 Pa.C.S. § 1103, the penalties for felonies are divided into 3 distinct subcategories. The least severe type of a felony is a third-degree felony that can be punished by up to 7 years in prison. A second-degree felony can be penalized by up to 10 years in prison. A first-degree felony, the most severe felony charge and perhaps the most serious offense on the books, may lead to a prison term of up to 20 years.
Misdemeanors have somewhat less harsh penalties but often come with time behind bars. Under 18 Pa.C.S. § 1104, a third-degree misdemeanor may result in up to 1 year in jail. A defendant convicted of a second-degree misdemeanor may be sentenced to up to 2 years in jail. Finally, a first-degree misdemeanor, only one step below felonies, may be punished by up to 5 years in jail.
In general, but not all cases, violent offenses tend to be classified as felonies, while non-violent offenses are often misdemeanors. However, there are many charges and circumstances where the line between felony and misdemeanor is blurred. Our Delaware County criminal defense attorneys can help you determine what kind of charges you are against.
How to Defend Yourself Against Criminal Charges in Delaware County
There is no universal method of defense in criminal cases. What works in one case might not work for yours. Our Delaware County criminal defense lawyers can sit down with you and discuss the details of your case to figure out the best way in which you defend yourself.
One defense strategy that should be considered is using pretrial motions to suppress illegal evidence. When the police seize evidence, they must follow strict laws and legal procedures. When these rules and procedures are ignored, the defendant’s rights might be violated, and the evidence cannot be permitted in the courtroom. If you believe the police conducted an unlawful search or seizure, we can file a motion with the court to make sure that evidence is not used against you. If key pieces of evidence are excluded from the trial, we might convince prosecutors to drop your charges.
Another tactic is to examine the evidence the prosecutor plans to use against you. If the evidence is insufficient to meet the burden of proof, we can ask the judge to dismiss your charges. This is a useful tactic in cases where prosecutors assess charges even though they do not have a lot of evidence to support those charges.
Negotiating a Plea Agreement in Delaware County
Not all cases end with a jury verdict. In some cases, the best defense strategy is to minimize the penalties rather than get all the charges dropped or dismissed. Our Delaware County criminal defense attorneys can work with prosecutors on your case to reach a plea agreement.
A plea agreement is a deal struck between you and the prosecutor. The prosecutor agrees to reduce the charges against you, and in exchange, you agree to plead guilty and waive your right to a trial. Since the charges are reduced, the penalties are less harsh. Negotiating a plea agreement is often a good strategy in cases where prosecutors have strong evidence and we are unlikely to win at trial.
Call Our Delaware County Criminal Defense Lawyers for a Free Case Evaluation
If you are arrested for a crime, our Delaware County criminal defense lawyers can help you deal with police interrogations, understand your charges, and figure out the best defense strategies. For a free case review, call Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane at (215) 372-8667.