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Category Archives: Criminal Defense

Bill Cosby Case Focuses on Admissibility of “Prior Bad Acts” Testimony

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is deciding whether five witnesses in Bill Cosby’s 2018 sexual assault trial should have been barred from testifying about “prior bad acts” that may have influenced the jury verdict. The prosecutor used the testimony to establish that Cosby engaged in a long-term pattern of inappropriate sexual behavior. Cosby was ultimately convicted… Read More »

Federal Prosecutors Charging Protestors with Crimes Under Civil Rights-Era Law

Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia and other large cities around the country have revived a little-used criminal law from the 1960s civil rights era to charge protestors with obstructing law enforcement during the unrest that followed the killing of George Floyd. The Civil Disobedience Act of 1968 makes it a felony to “obstruct law enforcement in… Read More »

When Can Deadly Force Be Used in Defense of a Home or Other Place of Security?

One nightmare everyone dreads is being awakened by the sound of breaking glass or other unexpected noise coming from downstairs and encountering an intruder. In that scenario, what can you do to protect yourself, your family and your possessions? Pennsylvania follows the “castle doctrine,” a legal principle allowing you to use deadly force against someone… Read More »

Why Would the Police Pull You Over When You Didn’t Do Anything Wrong?

You are driving on a Pennsylvania highway and you notice a police car following you, even though you’re not speeding, driving erratically or otherwise violating traffic laws. Suddenly, the police car’s lights are flashing. As you’re pulling to the side of the road, you’re thinking, “What did I do wrong?” The answer may be nothing…. Read More »

What Types of Charges Can Get You on the Sex Offender Registry, and for How Long?

Pennsylvania’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), popularly known as Megan’s Law, has been on the books since 1995. SORNA requires that certain designated adult and juvenile sex offenders register with the Pennsylvania State Police. People on the registry must report periodically to the State Police and provide information about changes in employment or… Read More »

Good People Make Bad Decisions: Why ARD Is Designed for You

A person who has gone their entire life without getting into legal trouble might one day get behind the wheel after too many drinks, use recreational marijuana or make another poor decision that leads to a low-level criminal charge. Fortunately, Pennsylvania has a specific remedy. The Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program offers people who make… Read More »

The Art of the Plea Deal: Why Real Court Isn’t Like CSI or Law and Order

Courtroom trial dramas on TV make for compelling entertainment, but they bear little resemblance to how the criminal court system actually works. Criminal cases work through the system in a variety of ways, but in the state of Pennsylvania, only 4 percent of those cases end up in an actual trial. That means that 96… Read More »

Civil Forfeiture: What Happens When Cops Seize Money from Your Car After a Stop?

If you’re pulled over in Pennsylvania for a motor vehicle violation, such as speeding, running a stop sign or reckless driving, you may think that the worst punishment you face is a traffic citation. But if police officers question you and reasonably suspect you are carrying drugs, they have the right to search your vehicle… Read More »

How Can Someone Be Punished if They Violate a COVID-19 Stay at Home Order?

Across the country, stay-at-home orders have strained law enforcement and tested how far states and municipalities are willing to go to enforce the orders. These directives have triggered controversy and confusion, as standards sometimes differ from town to town or county to county. In certain instances, people who have violated government edicts designed to reduce… Read More »

Digital Sex Crimes: How Texts and Posts Can Get You into Trouble

While it’s not breaking news that people are on their phones nonstop these days, it may be news to many that there’s a chance the texts and images they send to friends or share in social media violate federal and state obscenity laws. That’s why it’s important to know the potential consequences of your electronic… Read More »