Lancaster Legal Issues Blog

Sex offender registry requirements

Over the last few decades, states all across the country - including Pennsylvania - have established programs that require people convicted of various sexual offenses to register as sexual offenders. These registry programs may vary from state to state but all are essentially ways in which these defendants are monitored by law enforcement and even may provide some ability for members of the public to know who they are and where they live.

In Pennsylvania, the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board indicates that the amount of time for which a person has to maintain their registry depends on the offense for which they were convicted. There are three levels of offenses, Tiers 1 through 3, each with their own required length of registration. Tier 3 offenses result in lifetime registrations, tier 2 offenses mandate registrations for 25 years and tier 1 offenses require defendants to register for 15 years.

Can I keep my home after a divorce?

For many people in Pennsylvania, the thought of losing your family home when they get divorced causes them a lot of stress. Many people assign strong emotional ties to their homes, making them want to find a way to keep their houses after they get divorced. However, these spouses should know the facts about how to do this before they make a decision to do so.

One of the biggest things that people need to know is that if a joint mortgage remains in effect, both people can be pursued by the lender for repayment, regardless of what is outlined in a divorce decree. As Bankrate explains, a mortgage holder is not bound by the terms of a divorce settlement and can initiate collection actions on a spouse who is not responsible for the debt per the divorce decree if their name is still on the loan.

Legality of Pennsylvania DUI checkpoints called into question

Law enforcement teams in multiple municipalities across Pennsylvania sometimes work together to set up sobriety checkpoints in strategic locations within the area. Any drivers attempting to pass through the checkpoint are subject to a traffic stop, and authorities may arrest those who show any signs of impairment. 

Over a 15-year period, one such multi-community task force has arrested 700 drivers alleged to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time that they passed through the checkpoints. Though there can be no doubt as to their effectiveness, a recent decision by the state Supreme Court calls the legality of the checkpoints into question. 

What are valid defenses to drug charges?

Pennsylvanian residents like you could be facing a hefty penalty if convicted of drug-related crimes because of how seriously Pennsylvania treats said crimes. Fines and even jail time aren't uncommon. So what are the valid defenses that can be used to fight against drug-related accusations you may be facing?

FindLaw takes a look at some of the defenses against drug possession charges specific to the state of Pennsylvania. First and foremost, they note that addiction is not a defense. It should also be noted that in some cases, people struggling with addictions may be able to go to treatment programs as opposed to jail. In other situations, treatment programs may not be an option.

Could your bad habits lead to potential assault charges?

When you do the same thing over and over, you tend to stop thinking about the risks that it entails. For example, you drive so often that you probably take safety precautions subconsciously, without really thinking about it. For certain dangerous activities, like driving or jogging on a public road, your habits likely already safety-related behaviors.

However, if you have other social behaviors that aren't readily identified as risky, you may not think about the dangerous situation you put yourself in until it's too late. Small mistakes can become real problems if they result in criminal charges.

Tips to follow if you're pulled over for suspicion of DUI

If a police officer has reason to believe you're under the influence of alcohol, maybe because you are swerving on the highway or fail to react to a changing traffic signal, they're likely to pull you over to find out what's going on.

It doesn't matter if you're 100 percent sober or have alcohol in your system, this type of traffic stop is every bit as scary as it sounds.

Know the facts about indecent exposure

When Pennsylvania residents consider sex offenses, they may not think about indecent exposure. However, indecent exposure is also a sex offense and it is important for people to know what this means, as well as how the law views it.

People may think that indecent exposure occurs any time a person shows his or her genitals in public. FindLaw says that a particular situation determines whether a person commits indecent exposure. A mother who breastfeeds her infant, for example, usually does not commit this offense. People generally commit indecent exposure if they expose their genitals with the intent to offend or startle other people. This means that the flashing of underwear and urinating in public are not typically included in this offense.

The process of modifying child support

Pennsylvanian parents who have gotten a divorce will likely have a child support payment order worked out. But what can be done if the financial circumstances of one or both parent changes? Can the support payments be changed, too?

The Office of Child Support Enforcement takes a look at some of the laws specific to Pennsylvania when it comes to changing a child support order. For example, in Pennsylvania, there may be some fees involved with having a support order changed. If a parent is incarcerated, they will also need to make a phone appearance at a DRS conference to modify the support arrangement. Requesting modification involves calling, writing, or visiting the DRS specifically handling one's case.

How do you clear a criminal record after a DUI arrest?

Any DUI arrests or convictions in The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have the potential to carry with them serious long-term consequences. However, there are some ways you may be able to mitigate the damage that these events could cause to your reputation, employability and freedom.

There are several stages you may have to go through to completely clear your name after an encounter with law enforcement. Please read on for a brief discussion of some of the things that could help you if you were faced with DUI.

Can I be arrested for a DUI if my BAC is under the legal limit?

It is natural to assume that you will only be arrested for drunk driving if your breath or blood test shows a high blood alcohol content. However, you and other Pennsylvania residents should know that in some cases, you may get a DUI even if you are not at the legal limit of 0.08%. “Reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause” are terms you should familiarize yourself with.

According to FindLaw, law enforcement needs a reason to pull you over if they suspect you are driving while intoxicated. This is called reasonable suspicion. For example, you may have drifted into the other lane, missed a stop sign or made a wide turn. These, among others, are possible signs of intoxication. After being pulled over, the officer may administer a breath test or ask you to perform a field sobriety test.

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