Lancaster Legal Issues Blog

Traffic stop leads to drug arrest of a Pennsylvania man

Pennsylvania drivers are wise not to carry anything in their cars that they do not want authorities to see in the event of a pull-over. A recent routine traffic stop led to an arrest of a 36-year-old man from Littlestown, Pennsylvania last weekend on charges of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute.

Early Sunday morning, a law enforcement officer with the Maryland State Police observed a driver allegedly stopping well after the stop line at intersections and failing to maintain lanes. Pulling the driver over, the officer administered a field sobriety test, which the driver allegedly failed. The driver's blood alcohol level was 0.084 according to a preliminary breath test also performed at the scene.

Is heroin really an epidemic?

You may have heard people refer to heroin usage in the United States as an epidemic. Are they just being dramatic and blowing things out of proportion? Or has there really been a deep and fundamental change in the way that Americans use this drug, despite the fact that it remains illegal to do so?

The reality is that times have changed. The signs are clear. And the epidemic is real.

What are your Miranda rights?

If you watch cop shows in Pennsylvania or read crime novels, you are probably familiar with the standard recitation that police typically give when advising an arrestee of his or her Miranda rights. You may not have ever given this much thought, but if the police ever arrest you on criminal charges, you need to be aware of your Miranda rights. According to FindLaw, if police do not advise you of your Miranda rights prior to questioning you, the evidence obtained from the questioning is not admissible in court. 

Miranda rights get their name from a Supreme Court decision in 1966 in the case of Miranda v. Arizona. In that decision, the Supreme Court ruled that before the police can question a person they have taken into custody, they must first advise that person of his or her Fifth Amendment right not to give self-incriminating evidence. Therefore, the police must give a Miranda warning to someone they have in custody before they can question that person.

What is the difference between assault and battery?

If you read Pennsylvanian newspapers or watch crime shows on television, you have probably heard the terms "assault" and "battery." Because they are often paired together, you may mistakenly think that they mean the same thing.

According to FindLaw, however, assault and battery mean two very different things in the eyes of the law. Battery refers to harmful or offensive bodily contact, often of a violent and/or sexual nature, with another person who has not given their consent. Assault, on the other hand, refers to a threat or an attempt to inflict injury on someone else. To be clear, you do not have to actually inflict injury or carry out a threat of harm against another person; the legal definition of assault is an act of attempting or threatening to inflict injury by someone with the apparent ability to carry it out.

High Court ruling paves way for charges against clergy

When most residents in Pennsylvania think about a person accused of a criminal offense may have a stereotype in their mind about that person. The profile is not often likely to involve someone considered responsible or in a position of power. The thought that a religious figure be charged with a crime may be even further from their minds. That, however, may well change soon.

As reported by WHYY.org, the recently released grand jury report on child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church may be the beginning of the clock timing for a statute of limitations to bring criminal charges against priests or other members of the church. There is a period of two years during which such charges may be initiated. This two-year period starts with the date that the information was first communicated to the public.

Joint custody may be best for kids

Filing for divorce or legal separation is never an easy decision, especially when there are children involved. Parents may struggle when deciding whether to stay together for the kids’ sake, or to separate and start over with their personal lives. One of the hardest issues to negotiate is that of child custody and determining if it is better for the child to remain in the sole custody of one parent or joint custody. Studies show, however, that when children spend a significant amount of time with both parents, they have better development, behavioral, social and academic skills than kids who spend the majority of their time with one parent.

A study published in the Journal of Family Psychology found, after reviewing more than 33 studies looking at sole-custody vs. joint-custody children, that kids who had access to both parents in a joint-custody situation had a higher self-esteem, and fewer emotional and behavioral problems. They also did better in school and had stronger family relationships.

What factors influence BAC levels?

If you have ever been asked to take a roadside breath test, you may be surprised to learn that the results of the test may have been inaccurate. Law enforcement officers in Pennsylvania and throughout the United States use breath test devices to determine whether drivers are intoxicated while behind the wheel. In some cases, however, these tests may give inflated results, which could lead to wrongful DUI charges and convictions.

The most accurate way to read a blood alcohol level is to take a blood sample. Since this cannot be done alongside the road on a traffic stop, officers ask drivers to exhale a breath sample into the breath test device. The device then measures the amount of alcohol in the breath sample and converts the number to a BAC level reading. Errors can occur during this conversion process, as there are several factors that can influence the readings.

Important steps when asking for a prenuptial agreement

Once you find the love of your life and set your wedding date, you can turn your attention to the future. You hope that your marriage lasts forever, but in the back of your mind, you may have some concerns about divorce.

With these concerns lurking, the idea of creating a prenuptial agreement may move to the forefront of your mind. While you have a strong interest in learning more, you may also have concerns about discussing it with your soon-to-be spouse.

What is gray divorce?

Even after your kids have left the roost and you're well on your way to retirement, you may feel like you aren't satisfied with your marriage. If you're over the age of 50 and decide to split from your partner, you will be joining many others in your age bracket in what is known as gray divorce.

Metro explains what gray divorce is, as well as how you can prepare for it. There are unique hurdles you will likely face that younger divorcing couples don't have to worry about. First of all, gray divorce is a colloquial term for a divorce that occurs between older couples. Typically your kids will be adults. You may be on your way to retirement, or already retired. This is of key importance, since it highlights the first big hurdle: finances.

Be careful when telling your children about your divorce

There is a lot to consider when telling your children about your divorce. The steps you take can have a big impact on their life now and in the future. One mistake, even a minor one, can alter your child's life forever.

There is no right or wrong way to tell your children about your divorce. There are definitely tips you can follow to ensure that you're on the right track. Here are five things you probably want to do:

  • Have a plan: Don't go into this difficult conversation without a clear idea of what you want to say and how you want to say it. Practice makes perfect, so be sure to plan out the details of your conversation.
  • Choose the right time: It's hard to know what will happen, so plan the right time and place to discuss your divorce with your children.
  • Honesty is the best policy: You don't have to tell your children everything about your relationship and divorce, but you should definitely keep things honest throughout the conversation. Lying is not going to make things easier on anyone.
  • Answer every question: Even if it doesn't make sense to you, answering every question is important to ensure that your children feel okay with where things stand in regard to their future. Some questions will be more difficult to answer than others, but you can't shy away from any of them.
  • Stay prepared: Just because you tell your children about your divorce doesn't mean it will be the end of things. Most children have follow-up questions, and you need to make yourself available to them. It's not always easy to regularly discuss your divorce with your children, but it's for their well-being.
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