Bucks County Criminal Defense Lawyer
All criminal charges, no matter how minor or insignificant they may seem, should be taken seriously. Even small misdemeanor charges can have long-lasting consequences for the unwary defendant. Your criminal charges may range from the boring and mundane, like a traffic violation, to serious felonies that carry lengthy jail terms or costly fines. No matter what your circumstance may be, it is in your best interest to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer to make sure your rights are protected.
Every defendant has the right to an attorney in a criminal trial. No prosecutor, police officer, or judge can take that right away from you. Dealing with any legal issues, especially criminal matters, can be a daunting task. Trials may drag on for months at a time and you may feel completely trapped in the criminal justice system. You need a qualified Bucks County criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the justice system and fight for your best interests. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 to schedule a free legal consultation.
Potential Charges You Should Hire a Bucks County Criminal Defense Attorney For
Bucks County follows the Pennsylvania Criminal Code, which classifies crimes into three extensive categories. Generally, a crime will either be a felony, a misdemeanor, or a summary offense. Felonies tend to be more severe crimes and come with long prison terms and higher fines. Misdemeanors are less stringent than felonies and come with shorter prison terms and less costly fines. Finally, summary offenses are only minor infractions, tend to have minor to moderate fines, and generally don’t carry prison terms. Murder, perhaps the most serious crime, is treated separately from felonies under the criminal code.
Felonies are some of the most serious types of criminal offenses in the Pennsylvania criminal code. Felonies are broken down into three subcategories. These categories are, from least to most serious, felonies of the third-degree, second-degree, and -first-degree. Each subcategory comes with a different range of sentences. Third-degree felonies carry prison terms of no more than 7 years. Second-degree felonies have prison terms of no more than 10 years. First-degree felonies may carry prison terms of longer than 10 years, potentially up to life. Not all felony offenses are the same, and you need an experienced Bucks County criminal defense attorney to help you determine what charges you have and the consequences you face.
Misdemeanors, just like felonies, are broken down into three subcategories based on how serious they are. From least to most serious, these subcategories are misdemeanors of the third, second, and first-degree. Misdemeanors generally carry much shorter prison terms than even the least serious felony charge. A defendant convicted of a third-degree misdemeanor faces a prison term of 1 year at the most. A second-degree misdemeanor conviction comes with a prison term of no more than 2 years. Finally, a first-degree misdemeanor conviction could place you behind bars for up to 5 years.
Minor Infractions and Summary Offenses
Some crimes are so minuscule that they fall into neither category of felony nor misdemeanor. However, these crimes should not be brushed off or disregarded by the defendant. Offenses that may be punished by a maximum of 90 days in jail are known as summary offenses. Many summary offenses do not even come with possible jail time but instead, come with fines.
Defenses to Criminal Charges in Bucks County
Anyone charged with a crime will, of course, be wondering how they can begin to defend themselves in court. All criminal defendants are entitled to defend themselves in a court of law and all defendants are entitled to a competent attorney to help them. There are many ways to defend yourself besides simply claiming you did not commit the crime in question. It is entirely possible that you committed the crime you have been accused of, but you cannot be held criminally responsible due to particular circumstances. A few of these defenses are discussed below. To determine the best defense for you, contact our Bucks County criminal defense lawyer.
There could be no crime if the alleged victim consented to the criminal actions of the defendant. If the victim’s consent negates an element of the crime, the defendant cannot be charged. For example, if you take your neighbor’s car for a joyride, they may report you for stealing their car. However, if your neighbor agreed to let you take their car for a joyride, then there is no crime. Similarly, specific actions that cause bodily harm, like hitting or pushing someone, may not be considered assault or battery if consent is present. If you were to tackle your neighbor to the ground, you might face assault charges. If you tackle your neighbor to the ground while you are both playing a game of football, there is no crime because tackling is an inherent part of the game, and your neighbor consented to play. The consent must be valid to make a successful defense, meaning the person who agreed knew what they were doing and had the mental capacity to consent.
A justification defense means that you admit to the alleged crime, but you believe you had a good reason for committing the crime and should not be held responsible. Generally, justification defenses arise when the defendant committed the crime to avoid some other harm, either to themselves or to another. Self-defense is a kind of justification defense. Under Pennsylvania law, a justification defense is valid only if the harm avoided was greater than the harm inflicted by the defendant’s actions. For example, you cannot be criminally responsible for breaking your neighbor’s window if you only did so to escape a fire in your neighbor’s home. If you feel your actions were justified, speak with out Bucks County criminal defense attorney.
Insanity defenses can be complicated and they vary from state to state. In Bucks County, a defendant may claim a defense of insanity if, at the time of the crime, they had a mental disease, disorder, or impairment that prevented them from understanding the criminality of their actions, or they did not know their actions were wrong. This defense is not easy to make and often requires the defendant to undergo psychological tests to prove that they were mentally ill when they committed the crime. However, it is not uncommon for criminal defendants to suffer from mental illness, making this defense a viable option. Our Bucks County criminal defense lawyer can help you through this process.
Call Our Bucks County Criminal Defense Lawyer for a Free Legal Consultation
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, you should contact an experienced attorney to represent your case. Contact a skilled Bucks County and Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer by calling The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 to schedule a free legal consultation. Let us defend your rights and protect your best interests in court.