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West Chester criminal defense blog

Explaining 'plain view' in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, if a law enforcement officer does not have a warrant, they will need what is known as "probable cause" before they are allowed to search or seize property or to search or arrest a person. In fact, to obtain a search or arrest warrant, an officer will need to offer probable cause and swear to it under oath. These protections against "unreasonable" searches and seizures are afforded citizens by both the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, section 8 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania.

Probable cause is typically thought of as any combination of facts or circumstances that would lead an officer to believe that a crime has been or is about to be committed. For example, an officer cannot just search someone's car after pulling it over for speeding without additional probable cause to do so. This is because the only observed crime was speeding. The officer has stopped the driver and that is the scope of the officer's authority with respect to that crime - even if there is a bag of narcotics in the trunk.

What is embezzlement and who could be accused?

It isn't any shock that money can make people greedy or make them act in ways they usually wouldn't. When a person is running low on funds and needs to make ends meet, it can turn into a desperate situation. While many people will push through tough financial times without major incident, others may be facing a world of trouble with white collar crime accusations related to embezzlement. But, what is embezzlement and who could be accused of such a crime?

The reality is that just about anyone could be charged with embezzlement if a person or a business believes that funds have been illegally funneled out. Embezzlement is defined as theft of assets, including money or property, by a person who is responsible for overseeing those assets. It often is seen in corporate settings, but small business can be affected by embezzlement as well. People accused of embezzlement are often given the job of overseeing assets like business accounts, financial accounts and are then accused of manipulating those accounts to funnel money or assets to themselves.

The opioid crisis and heroin offenses

Looking at the big picture, the opioid epidemic and heroin offenses are linked hand-in-hand. When prescription painkillers hit the mainstream population by means of doctors roughly two decades ago, it led to the direct increase in heroin offenses and addictions. This is because chemically, many prescription painkillers and heroin are the same chemical structure. This means you can get a similar high by using either drug - whether found on the street or prescribed.

Many heroin offenses stem from addiction. Because of this, Chester County set out to determine the underlying factors that impact West Chester residents and their families when heroin comes into play. The District Attorney's office has also been tough on heroin users and dealers. With prosecutions in place like Operation Wildfire, the District Attorney's Office has targeted heroin and opioid dealers. Chester County has one of the longest tenured drug courts in Pennsylvania, diverting addicts from the prison system.

3 reasons you need a lawyer when speaking with police

Many people think you only need a lawyer if you are guilty. This myth is reinforced by countless TV procedural that depict asking for a lawyer during an interrogation as an act that confirms the heroes' worst suspicions about the individual in question.

This is a myth that can cause you a great deal of harm. Even if you think a matter is trivial, it can end up having seriousĀ consequences for you down the road. Having an experienced defense attorney at your side from the beginning can help you avoid unnecessary complications.

Activities that could result in credit card fraud charges

Much of the world has moved to a non-cash way of financial transactions. If the average person thinks back to their last several purchases, most likely they were almost all made electronically by funds transfer, credit card or debit card. So it's no surprise that instances of credit card fraud allegations are on the rise. There are a few activities that can be considered when facing credit card fraud allegations.

Since credit card fraud is a broad term for the use of a credit card (or any comparable type of credit) to buy goods or services with the intention of evading payment, there are a few different ways this could allegedly be done. Identify theft, which can be identity assumption or fraud spree, are the two different means by which one could be accused of credit card fraud. The most blatant, fraud spree, can occur in instances when a person's card or sensitive information is stolen and then charges are racked up in a quick manner. In comparison, identity assumption, happens over a long period of time in which a person's identity is assumed and used for a variety of different purposes like opening several accounts, and slow and stealthy spending.

Why build a criminal defense against heroin offenses?

When it comes to illicit drug use, it's estimated that thousands are suffering from opioid addiction in the United States. Whether due to actual heroin use or a similar-based prescription pill like painkillers, heroin use is on the rise. It can have a huge impact on a person's health and well-being and it can result in criminal implications with the law. If you or a loved one is accused of a heroin offense, what steps should be taken?It's important to remember that being accused of a drug crime does not equate to being convicted of that crime. Much can happen between the filing of drug charges and the actual conviction of said crime. Each person accused of a criminal offense as the right to build a criminal defense and to tell their side of the story. Heroin offenses can have a huge impact on a person's future and can have criminal, professional and negative impacts across the totality of a person's life.

Heroin offenses like possession, intent to distribute and other related crimes can carry jail time. They can also carry misdemeanor or felony implications depending on the severity of the crime in question. Obviously, felony charges would be the most serious and could carry up to a year or more in jail if convicted. While criminal implications are important to consider, so is the impact that a drug like heroin can have on a person and the loved ones in their life.

Federal charges for 13 accused of East coast drug trafficking

Sometimes ourselves or the loved ones in our life make shaky decisions, based out of necessity. The use or sale of illicit drugs is a decision that can have serious consequences for the person making that decision and for the people around them and in their life. A federal investigation has been ongoing and has accused and charged 13 people in connection with drug distribution and possession crimes up and down the East coast. The alleged operation spanned state lines, including Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

Local and federal law enforcement were involved in the investigation and eventual arrests. Drug crimes have been a major focus for law enforcement since the late 80s when it became clear their danger to those who consume and abuse illegal drugs. Heroin and meth, two of the more dangerous drugs, were said to have been run in this alleged drug ring. Charges against the defendants include narcotics conspiracy and various firearm offenses.

White collar crimes can carry serious penalties

If you aren't a law student or big into the news, you may be unaware of the term 'white collar crime.' The phrase got its name from the type of people who typically are accused and commit these crimes. People with white collars, were traditionally people in management, so dubbed in the latter half of the 20th century. Meanwhile, blue collar workers were typically laborers.

Since while collar crimes cover crimes of embezzlement, wire fraud and even tax evasion, these activities are more accessible and susceptible to white collar workers than their blue collar counterpart. However, white collar crimes can carry heavy penalties for those who are convicted. While it isn't a violent crime, it still can carry criminal penalties including jail time. With conviction of a white collar crime, many will lose their job, or a specific license or positive reputation that they once had while working in that industry.

Important terms for drug charges

The use and distribution of drugs can put people and all those around them in danger. For this reason, those who face drug charges and receive convictions may encounter very stern penalties.

Those facing such charges and seeking to create a good defense must understand the various aspects of the charges themselves. In particular, there are a few important terms that are commonly used in relation to drug charges. 

Credit card fraud laws to know when charged

Just because a credit card is made out of plastic doesn't mean that it doesn't contain access to real money. Most people understand this concept, as plastic spends just as easily as does paper bills. However, sometimes the concept can get misconstrued in terms of access to credit card, what is allowed and what isn't. It can lead to instances where a person is charged with credit card fraud.

It's important to understand that a criminal charge related to credit card fraud is a serious offense that can have lasting consequences if convicted. Credit card fraud is based on state law and in Pennsylvania you can be convicted of credit card fraud if you have the card or access to the pertinent information on the card to make a purchase. You can even be convicted of this crime if you haven't actually spent any of the money. The mere act of possessing it and knowing it is counterfeit or has not been authorized for use constitutes credit card fraud.

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Donatoni & Crichton Attorneys at Law
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West Chester, PA 19380

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West Chester Criminal Law Office