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Erie Pennsylvania Legal Blog

Criminal defense: 5 in custody following reports of 2 stolen cars

Being charged with theft in the state of Pennsylvania is a very serious offense. The consequences of a theft conviction depend largely on the value of the items that were stolen and whether the person accused had been convicted of theft in the past. It would be in someone's best interest to present the strongest criminal defense possible. Such is the case for five people who were recently arrested in Scranton and accused of stealing vehicles.

According to the Scranton Police Department, a sport utility vehicle and another car were reported stolen from a vehicle repair shop. Evidently, the SUV was involved in an accident and photos of the incident were posted on Facebook. The damage to the vehicle was apparently extensive. Police officers indicated that the stolen car was recovered.

Pennsylvania's ignition interlock program for DUI offenders

There are a lot of potential consequences for those accused or convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in Pennsylvania. In addition to criminal penalties, such as fines and jail time, people facing DUI charges may also have to deal with the frustration of an ignition interlock system in their vehicles. This program is one of many intended to deter drunk driving.

The intent behind the creations of the ignition interlock program is to allow limited licenses for those convicted of intoxicated driving offenses. After all, most people need to drive to work and earn money. Parents also need to pick their kids up from school, so the complete loss of licensing could punish not just the convicted person, but everyone in their family. Participation in the ignition interlock program could allow some people the ability to retain driving privileges.

Criminal defense: 4 arrested for alleged heroin trafficking

Law enforcement officials in Pennsylvania receive numerous tips about supposed drug activity throughout the state. These tips often lead to the seizure of illegal substances and the dismantling of various drug operations. Four people in Elk County will likely need to mount a strong criminal defense following their arrests for alleged heroin trafficking.

According to officers working with the state Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, heroin was apparently discovered at several locations after several complaints were filed. Information regarding a reported heroin operation had been received by the agency. Following searches, a 23-year-old man, a 29-year-old man, a 27-year-old woman and a 29-year-old woman were arrested. All four were arraigned and remain in jail in lieu of bail.

State looks at programs to reduce repeat drunk driving incidents

When a Pennsylvania resident is charged with driving under the influence, his or her life is immediately affected. A drunk driving conviction can result in loss of license, fines, interlocks on vehicles, probation or even time in jail. Most of the people who are arrested for their first DUI will never be charged with another incident again. However, statistics show that there are drivers that will be stopped again for driving under the influence. Officials from the state district attorney's association recommend adopting a new approach to reduce the number of drivers involved in repeat DUI incidents.

The traffic safety resource prosecutor is interested in programs used in others states in addition to the traditional methods of rehabilitation, such as loss of license or ignition interlocks. The programs focus on sobriety. Breathalyzer tests are required for DUI repeat offenders two times each day. If someone fails one of these tests, he or she would spend a short time in the county jail.

Car accidents: Teacher dead after multi-car accident

Monday mornings are typically a whirlwind of activity for many Pennsylvania residents. Many are on the road early as they head to work or school. Unfortunately, car accidents are not uncommon during this time of day due to the number of travelers and vehicles. A recent crash claimed the life of a teacher on her way to start her week of work at school.

A teacher in the Mountain View School District was heading toward work in a car going northbound on an interstate. Her vehicle was struck by another car that was also heading north. Upon impact, the teacher's car went airborne and ended up in the southbound lane when it crossed the median. It hit a sport utility vehicle that was driving to the south.

Car accidents: Several injured in Pennsylvania wreck

Police say charges can be expected in the case of a collision in Rayburn on Jan. 18. Pennsylvania authorities are still investigating the crash, but they say an 18-year-old male driver could stand to be charged for his material contribution to the crash. As with most car accidents resulting in injuries, state law also allows for the possibility of the victims filing personal injury lawsuits in civil court. 

According to the accident report, around 2:30 p.m. the driver was headed northbound on Route 28/66 when the accident occurred. The man was allegedly traveling at a high rate of speed. When his vehicle encountered gravel, he lost control of the car, which then entered the oncoming lane. This caused an impact with a minivan traveling the other direction. The force of the impact sent both vehicles off the road, with the man's car suffering critical engine damage. 

Does my right to know about dangers affect workers' compensation?

Certain workplaces can be riddled with hidden dangers. In Pennsylvania, workers have the right to know about hazardous or toxic substances that might be present in their workplace. However, being aware of certain hazards will not necessarily prevent a workplace accident, and as such has no affect on whether a person qualifies for workers' compensation.

While the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration already requires employers to inform workers of hazardous substances, the Pennsylvania Worker and Community Right to Know Act applies to workers who are not otherwise covered by OSHA. Under this act, employers who are not covered under OSHA must post a notice that informs employees of these rights. The notice may not be obscured or in a rarely visited place, and should be prominently located.

Treat your prescription drugs with care or risk criminal charges

Your doctor prescribed you a medication that was necessary given your symptoms at the time. You (or your insurance) paid for the consultation with the doctor, as well as for the prescription medication that you picked up from the pharmacy. You may think that the pills you received are yours to do with as you see fit, but that simply isn't the case.

Many prescribed medications are controlled substances under both Pennsylvania state and federal laws. That means that the only legal way to possess and use those drugs is exactly as ordered by your doctor. Using prescription medication contrary to your doctor's orders or choosing to give or sell your medication to someone else could result in serious criminal charges.

Are field sobriety tests part of every drunk driving arrest?

Being pulled over by the police is rarely a good experience, but it can be especially stressful when a person is accused of driving under the influence. When Pennsylvania police believe that someone is drunk driving, they will usually ask that he or she participate in a series of field sobriety tests. These are a series of physical and verbal tasks that most people will be asked to undergo before determining if more advanced testing -- such as a Breathalyzer -- is necessary, or if there is probable cause for an arrest.

Slurred speech and red eyes may indeed be signs of intoxication, but other causes may contribute to these symptoms. As such, officers cannot arrest someone simply because they appear intoxicated while driving. Instead, they must have probable cause to believe so.

Do criminal defense plans cover professional license suspension?

Your career is more than just important to you -- it is the key to your livelihood. If you rely on a license to practice your profession and are facing criminal charges, your professional license could be on the line. Constructing a solid criminal defense foundation can be key to maintaining your profession and your career.

Plea deals are a common approach to Pennsylvania criminal matters in which a defendant might plead guilty in exchange for a lesser charge that carries less severe consequences. However, for many professionals, this will not put the matter behind them so easily. Even seemingly minor offenses can cause the state to suspend or even revoke a professional license.

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