Montgomery County, PA Criminal Defense Lawyer
Criminal charges can vary from charges for minor infractions to charges for serious felonies. Some people do not understand just how serious any criminal charge can be, no matter how minor, and may disregard the charges or try to ignore them. If you do not deal with your criminal charges head-on, you will suffer serious consequences like possible jail time and heavy fines. You need a skilled, experienced attorney on your side who can help you effectively fight your charges.
Criminal charges can lead to serious penalties. The process for dealing with your charges is complicated and requires advanced legal knowledge. A criminal defense lawyer can review your case and plan accordingly for all your hearings that lie ahead. A lawyer can also strategize and put forward the best defense possible for your case. Challenging your charges on your own is certainly a possibility, but it is not advised.
If you have been charged with a crime, you need to contact an attorney for help as soon as possible. Our Montgomery County criminal defense lawyers can help you fight your charges and clear your name. Discuss your case with our team in a free legal consultation at The Law Offices of Lloyd Long. Call (215) 302-0171 today to get the help you need.
Being Arrested for a Crime in Montgomery County, PA
Arrests are often considered the scariest part of the criminal justice process. During an arrest, the police will forcefully take you into custody, where your freedom will be greatly restricted. Arrests often happen at the scene of the crime or very close to it. Arrests also frequently occur under the execution of an arrest warrant. Both circumstances present their own rules, regulations, and challenges.
The police may arrest you if they have sufficient probable cause and have obtained a properly authorized warrant of arrest. Sufficient probable cause is not a very high standard. The police must have enough evidence connecting you to a particular crime that demonstrates you are more likely than not the culprit. Arrest warrants have to be issued by a judge or a magistrate. Warrants must also include specific details, such as who is being arrested, the grounds for the arrest, and where and how the arrest may occur. An arrest executed outside the parameters of the warrant may be unlawful.
Police can arrest you without a warrant under specific circumstances. The police must witness you commit the crime or see you fleeing from the scene of the crime. These conditions create an atmosphere of urgency, and the need for a warrant is disposed of. The need to arrest someone who could be armed and dangerous outweighs the need to protect your due process rights.
If you have been arrested for a crime, please reach out to our Montgomery County criminal defense lawyers for help.
What Happens After You are Charged with a Crime in Montgomery County, PA?
Once you have been charged with a crime, the criminal justice process begins. Before you are charged, you will likely have been questioned by the police. Upon being arrested, the first thing you should do is obtain the help of a skilled attorney. If you have not yet found a lawyer to help you, call our Montgomery County criminal defense attorneys. Multiple steps come before your trial, each one important for a different reason. While these hearings do not determine your guilt or innocence, they are crucial to your overall trial process.
One of your earliest hearings after being charged with a crime is your bail hearing. This occurs shortly after being formally arraigned and informed of the charges against you. Bail is important because it allows you to be released from jail and await trial at home. However, bail is not always guaranteed, nor is it the same for every defendant.
Bail is traditionally an amount of money set by the court that the defendant must pay to be released. If the defendant shows up for all their hearings, the money is refunded to them. However, if they fail to appear or skip bail, their money is not returned, and they may be re-arrested and returned to court by the police.
Bail is determined based on the severity of your offense and the likelihood that you will skip bail and fail to appear for trial. More serious crimes will, of course, have a higher bail set by the court. Some extremely serious crimes, like first-degree murder, may be denied bail by statute. Lesser offenses like misdemeanors typically come with lower, more affordable bail.
If the court deems you a flight risk or a threat to public safety, you could be denied bail and made to await trial from a jail cell. However, if the court finds you trustworthy and your offense is minor, you could be released on your own recognizance. This means you can be released without having to pay bail.
Call our Montgomery County criminal defense attorney to help you with bail. Bail reform laws have been applied in many jurisdictions, and the laws surrounding bail have been known to change frequently.
For felony and misdemeanor charges, defendants go through a preliminary hearing. This hearing is more of a hurdle for the prosecutor to overcome than the defendant. At this hearing, the prosecutor in your case must demonstrate there is probable cause of your alleged crime to warrant a trial. This hearing does not influence the verdict of your trial, and you are not found guilty or not guilty at this phase. Instead, the court will decide if enough evidence exists to proceed with the case at all.
This stage is crucial because it allows your defense team to preview the prosecutor’s strategy and evidence before trial. If we can successfully challenge the evidence against you at this trial, the judge will dismiss your case.
You do not necessarily have to go through a preliminary hearing. If you choose to waive your preliminary hearing, your case will automatically be pushed through to a trial. Waiver of preliminary hearings is more common in cases where a defendant would rather accept a plea agreement than be put through the rigors of a trial. Call our Montgomery County criminal defense attorneys for assistance.
Before your trial, we have the opportunity to submit pretrial motions in the hopes of steering your trial in our favor. Pretrial motions are like arguments we can make before your trial begins to include or exclude evidence from trial. If we are successful, we can prevent the prosecutor from introducing certain pieces of evidence or witnesses that might hurt your case.
During the discovery phase of your trial, the prosecutor must disclose to us the evidence and witnesses they intend to present at trial. Contrary to what TV crime dramas would like us to believe, there are no surprises in a courtroom. After reviewing this evidence, we can make arguments regarding its admissibility.
To be admitted in court, the evidence must meet strict legal criteria, such as relevancy, prejudicial value, and lawfulness. Evidence that is irrelevant to your case, unfairly prejudicial, or illegally seized may not be obtained. We can file pretrial motions to suppress any unlawful evidence and strengthen your case. Contact our Montgomery County criminal defense lawyers for help handling your case.
What are The Penalties and Jail Time for Crimes in Montgomery County
Criminal penalties will vary depending on the crime you allegedly committed, the circumstances surrounding your case, and any discretion the judge may have in imposing a sentence. Crimes are divided into serious felonies and less serious misdemeanors. Each category carries a different range of penalties. To determine what kinds of penalties you might face, hire our experienced Montgomery County criminal defense lawyers.
Felonies are more serious crimes and often come with harsh penalties. A third-degree felony conviction is associated with a prison term of up to 7 years. A second-degree felony comes with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Finally, a first-degree felony conviction may carry a sentence of over 10 years. These penalties can be imposed as a range rather than a definite term of years, so the exact amount of time you might spend in prison will be determined by the judge at your sentencing.
Misdemeanors are somewhat less serious offenses and tend to have more lenient penalties. A third-degree misdemeanor comes with a prison term of no more than 1 year. A second-degree misdemeanor may carry a prison term of no more than 2 years. A first-degree misdemeanor could put you behind bars for up to 5 years. These sentences may be much shorter than those associated with felonies, but any charges that come with possible jail time should be taken very seriously, and you should seek the help of an attorney.
Negotiating Plea Agreements for Criminal Charges in Montgomery County, PA
You may not have to go through a trial to deal with your criminal charges. In many cases, prosecutors are willing to strike a deal with defendants and arrange plea agreements or plea bargains. These agreements require that the defendant enter a guilty plea and waive their right to a trial. In exchange, the prosecutor agrees to reduce or dismiss some of your charges. In the end, a plea agreement allows you to skip a trial and plead guilty to charges with lighter punishments. Plea agreements can be beneficial in cases where the evidence against you is strong and success at a trial is unlikely. Talk to our Montgomery County criminal defense attorneys about plea agreements and whether one is right for your case.
If You Were Arrested in Montgomery County, PA, Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in Montgomery County or is unsure if they may face criminal charges, they should immediately contact an attorney. A skilled lawyer can be the difference between going to prison or going home to your family. Contact our experienced Montgomery County defense lawyers today by calling (215) 302-0171 to schedule a free legal consultation.