Being charged with a crime can be a scary time in your life. You need an attorney that will stand by you, explain your charges thoroughly, walk you through your next steps and fight to protect your rights. Our team of experienced attorneys at Young Marr and Associates will do just that.
What is Criminal Law?
The definition of criminal law is a body of rules and statutes that defines conduct prohibited by the government because it threatens and harms public safety and the welfare of people and their property. Criminal law also seeks to prosecute the person or persons who committed a crime.
Whether you are guilty or not, it’s important to understand what you’re being charged with, why you are being charged with it and what your rights are. There’s a reason you have a right to legal counsel if you’ve been charged with a crime. Without adequate representation for the person being charged, the balance of power within the justice system would become skewed in favor of government.
Our criminal defense lawyers are keenly aware of each case and person they’re representing, often settling a case out of court by negotiating with prosecutors. Through negotiating with prosecutors outside of court, we may be able to eliminate or reduce your charges and penalties.
In general, Criminal Law asks and seeks to answer the following questions:
- Did the person 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.
What is the Difference Between Felonies and Misdemeanors?
Criminal law divides crimes into two main categories: felonies and misdemeanors.
A misdemeanor is typically a lesser crime. It usually involves a potential prison sentence of a year or less and many times allows for alternative sentencing such as small fines, community service or rehabilitation programs. Some examples of misdemeanor crimes include simple assault, disorderly conduct, first DUI/DWI, trespassing, solicitation and vandalism.
Unlike a misdemeanor, a felony is a more serious crime. The punishments for a felony and misdemeanor differ greatly. Felonies tend to involve prison sentences of a year or more, fines, or a combination of both. Very serious felonies can warrant life in prison or the death penalty. Some examples of felony crimes include murder, rape, terroristic threats, burglary, kidnapping, or arson.
Federal vs. State Prosecution
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.
The Arraignment Process 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.
Our Jenkintown, PA Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Protect You
The lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates have more than 20 years’ experience in criminal law and it’s our dedication and extensive knowledge that can help to make the event a little more bearable. Young Marr and Associates is devoted to providing clients with top-notch services, no matter what your criminal law needs encompass. If you were charged with a crime in Jenkintown, PA, our criminal defense attorneys can help you:
- If you are arrested, you can ask for your attorney to be called to the police station.
- A lawyer will identify and explain your rights after you are detained by the police.
- An attorney can work for the arrangement of a bail.
- Your legal representative will explain and take all the necessary legal action.
- Your attorney will give you information about what to expect if you face criminal charges.
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. We take the time to educate our clients on their legal rights and advise them on the best course of action, depending on the situation.
Our attorneys are dedicated to treating each case, each person with the respect and the expertise they deserve. 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.