Lancaster Legal Issues Blog

Defense alleges prosecution lacks evidence

Pennsylvania residents who hear about the arrest of someone for suspected drug offenses might well wonder what type of evidence officers need to produce in order to support this type of criminal charge. Every situation involving an alleged drug crime is different and the specific evidence therefore may vary as well. However, that does not negate the need for prosecutors to have evidence to back up an arrest or request to keep a defendant in custody.

The defense team for one defendant from Penn Hills has argued against a judge's order that one man be kept in jail while he awaits a potential trial saying that the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence in the case. The man is accused of being the leader of a major drug dealing scheme. It is reported that officers witnessed a vehicle drive to the defendant's house. Inside the vehicle was found both cocaine and pot. The defendant is said to have been accepting the items to then sell them yet there is no information that indicates proof of this.

Understanding zero-tolerance laws

When your teenager is charged with a DUI, you may wonder what will happen. Underage drinking and driving falls under zero-tolerance laws in Pennsylvania. We at the Marinaro Law Firm understand it is important for you to know what this means for your teenager.

FindLaw says that people under the age of 21 can be charged with drinking and driving if they have a blood alcohol content of 0.02 percent. When an adolescent has a BAC level higher than this, law enforcement does need to demonstrate that he or she is drunk. The BAC level for teenagers is set so low because young people are more likely to be involved in a fatal collision if they have even a small amount of alcohol in their system. One study noted that states which limited BAC levels to 0.02 percent for teenagers saw the largest decrease in fatal accidents.

Holidays lead to increased drinking and more police patrols

For many people, celebrating holidays and consuming alcoholic beverages go hand in hand. Office parties, costume parties and even family get-togethers can inspire people to down a few beers, glasses of wine or cocktails. Unfortunately, this way of celebrating the holiday season, from Halloween to New Years Eve, can result in traffic collisions.

In order to prevent people from losing loved ones to intoxication-related vehicle crashes, law enforcement try to enforce drunk driving laws more uniformly around the holidays. This can include sobriety checkpoints or just a lot more patrol officers on the lookout for signs of impaired driving. The idea is to keep the holidays happy, instead of a season filled with tragic and preventable car accidents.

Consequences of driving without a license

Some people may think that driving without a license in Pennsylvania is not a big deal. However, this is illegal across the country and people may sometimes find themselves facing serious consequences.

According to FindLaw, people are not allowed to drive a car if their license has been either permanently revoked or suspended for a short time. It is also illegal to drive if a person never received a license. This offense is usually considered a misdemeanor and appears on a person's criminal record. People are usually required to go to court and pay a fine. If someone has several instances of driving without a license on their record, this fee might be relatively high. This fee is generally smaller, though, if the incident is a person's first offense.

Positive co-parenting during the holidays

As the holiday season gets ready to set in, Pennsylvania parents who must share their children's time with a former spouse need to find ways to do this with grace for their own good as well as for their children's benefit.

Coparently suggests that divorced parents should communicate together well in advance of the holidays to establish schedules and figure out where the kids will be on which days and for which events. This avoids putting kids in the middle by making them choose which parent to spend which day or holiday with. While it may seem like a good idea to give kids the choice, this actually just adds stress to their lives and leaves them feeling conflicted.

Steps to tell your spouse you want a divorce

Imagine this scenario: You have been thinking long and hard about your marriage and how things aren't working out. You finally come to the conclusion that divorce is the only way for you to feel better about the future.

While this is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make, you don't want to put it off any longer. If you know that divorce is right for you, it's time to take action. This means telling your spouse your feelings and putting the wheels in motion.

Man charged with murder of one, rape of other

In some situations in Pennsylvania after a person is accused of one criminal offense involving another person, accusations may surface from other persons as well. This type of domino effect may understandably complicate matters for defendants and their family members

One man today who was in custody in South Carolina but expected to be returned to Indiana County in Pennsylvania is facing such a situation. He has recently been accused of raping a girl who was 17 years old. These allegations come on the heels of being charged with multiple offenses including sexual assault and homicide related to a college student. The defendant is 21 years old and was said to be dating the 20-year-old woman who was a student at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Pennsylvania's definition of rape

You have probably seen, read or heard reports of someone being accused of a sex crime in Pennsylvania many times. However, have you ever stopped to think about just what a particular criminal charge really means. There are very clear definitions that the law uses when identifying a particular offense. When it comes to rape, the Pennsylvania General Assembly indicates that actual sexual intercourse is involved.

In Pennsylvania, rape is classified as a first-degree felony offense. Regarding the intercourse that occurs in a situation resulting in a rape charge, the act is said to have been done against the will of the other party either via direct physical force or by threatening the person with potential force to the point that they quit resisting and give in to the act.

Three potential benefits to bankruptcy before divorce

If you are like many spouses in Pennsylvania who is considering getting a divorce, you and your partner may be experiencing serious financial problems. Like it or not, money woes and marriage woes all too often go hand in hand and it may even be impossible to determine which came first. If your financial issues are extreme enough, you might even consider filing for bankruptcy. Depending on what type of bankruptcy is right for you, there may be benefits to this for your divorce.

As The Balance explains, one benefit of filing for a joint bankruptcy is that you and your spouse together enjoy higher exemption levels. This means you are allowed to keep assets valued up to a higher amount than a person filing for a bankruptcy alone might. This approach may help you avoid losing your home or a car, for example.

U.S. opioid addiction continues to grow

People who hear or read reports of arrests made involving drugs in Pennsylvania should carefully consider that there may be more to the story than someone allegedly breaking the law. In many cases, people accused of drug crimes have underlying addictions or substance abuse problems that put them in the position of being arrested as they struggle with the vicious cycle of drug addiction.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction to prescription opioid medications and to heroin has increased dramatically across the nation in recent years. While opioids such as oxycodone have proven useful in combatting serious pain after surgeries or in other medical cases, they have been perhaps too widely used to help manage chronic pain. Patients who live with back problems, for example, have often been prescribed opioids to give them relief from symptoms so that they can go about their daily lives. This approach, however, has contributed to more addictions.

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