Being charged with a crime is just the beginning of a possibly lengthy legal battle to prove your innocence and protect your rights. Handling your case alone is not a good idea, and a skilled lawyer could be the difference between going home and going to jail.
You should contact a lawyer immediately if you have been charged with a crime. Defendants sometimes hesitate to speak to a lawyer because they are unsure of their case’s seriousness or are afraid of expensive legal fees. The sooner you get a lawyer’s help, the better. Serious penalties might be on the line, including jail time, fines, and more. An attorney can help you avoid these penalties or take advantage of alternative sentencing options. The best way to fight your charges depends on what you are charged with and the evidence against you. Your attorney can determine an effective, individualized defense strategy for your case.
If you are up against criminal charges, our Harrisburg criminal defense lawyers can help you protect your rights and defend you in court. For a free assessment of your case, call Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane at (215) 372-8667.
When to Call a Lawyer if You Are Charged with a Crime in Harrisburg
You should try to get in touch with a lawyer about your case as soon as possible. If you have been arrested, the police should allow you to contact an attorney after being booked, usually once they begin custodial interrogation. When that happens, call our Harrisburg criminal defense lawyers for help right away.
The police are required by law to inform you of your Miranda rights before they start the custodial interrogation process. These rights include your right to remain silent and to have a lawyer with you. Although telling the police no is hard, you are allowed to refuse to answer their questions, and you should make your refusal loud and clear. You should also demand to speak to a lawyer, as the police are not allowed to refuse.
Defendants sometimes wait to speak to an attorney because charges have not yet been formally filed against them, and they think they can clear things up with law enforcement on their own. This is not a good idea. Call an attorney as soon as possible. The questions asked by police are meant to be incriminating. Answering them without a lawyer’s assistance and guidance might set you up for failure.
Even if you have not yet been arrested but believe the police are investigating you, you should contact an attorney. Your lawyer can help you make a plan for what to do if and when the police take you into custody. They can also help you avoid saying or doing anything that might be incriminating or suspicious.
Potential Penalties for Criminal Charges in Harrisburg
The penalties for criminal charges can be quite severe. Even misdemeanor offenses may be punished with time behind bars. Your attorney can help you avoid these penalties or advocate for alternative sentencing options that might allow you to serve your sentence without going to jail or prison. Call our Harrisburg criminal defense attorneys to discuss your charges and the possible penalties.
Felonies are some of the most serious criminal charges a person could face. Even the lowest level of felony charges can carry a prison term of several years. Felonies are broken into 3 subcategories, with third-degree felonies being the least severe and first-degree felonies being the most.
According to 18 Pa.C.S. § 1103, third-degree felonies may be punished by no more than 7 years in prison. Second-degree felonies may be met with up to 10 years in prison. Finally, defendants convicted of first-degree felonies may be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. Some especially severe felonies may even be punished by life in prison or capital punishment.
Misdemeanors are not quite as severe as felonies, but that does not mean they should be brushed off or ignored. Even misdemeanor charges may carry jail time, and defendants charged with multiple misdemeanors might face a very long time in jail. Our Harrisburg criminal defense attorneys can help you fight these charges and hopefully avoid serious jail time.
Under 18 Pa.C.S. § 1104, third-degree misdemeanors, the least serious level of misdemeanors, are punishable by up to 1 year in jail. Those convicted of a second-degree misdemeanor might face up to 2 years in jail. Finally, a first-degree misdemeanor is only one level below a felony and can be punished by no more than 5 years in jail.
Not all criminal convictions result in jail or prison time. In some cases, our Harrisburg criminal defense attorneys can advocate for alternative sentencing options. The alternative options available depend on your charges and what the sentencing guidelines allow.
Probation is available in many cases and allows convicted defendants to serve their sentences from home rather than behind bars. Probation tends to be available more often in cases of non-violent offenses. As long as a convicted defendant abides by the terms and restrictions of their probation, they do not have to see the inside of a cell.
Drug court is another example of an alternative sentencing option often available for non-violent drug offenders with serious drug dependency problems. The program focuses less on punishment and more on rehabilitating the defendant.
If you qualify, we might instead argue for an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. This program is designed for first-time offenders who may respond well to rehabilitative treatment. Completing the program often results in a dismissal of the charges, and your criminal record remains clean.
Fighting Criminal Charges in Harrisburg
One important method our Harrisburg criminal defense attorneys can use is filing pretrial motions to suppress inadmissible evidence. Evidence might be inadmissible for multiple reasons. Perhaps it was seized in violation of your rights or does not meet the evidentiary standards for admissibility. Suppressed evidence is excluded from the trial and cannot be used against you. The prosecutor might be compelled to drop the charges if enough evidence is suppressed.
We can also work to poke holes in the prosecutor’s case if they have insufficient evidence. A conviction is impossible if the prosecutor cannot present enough evidence to meet their burden of proof. We can persuade the jury that there is not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. Alternatively, we can ask a judge to dismiss the case due to a lack of evidence.
Call Our Harrisburg Criminal Defense Lawyers for a Free Case Assessment
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, our Harrisburg criminal defense lawyers can assist you. Your rights need to be protected while we fight to clear your name. For a free case review, call Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane at (215) 372-8667.