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Criminal Defense Attorneys in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania 

Being accused of a crime can be an intimidating and life-altering experience for anyone, regardless of whether you believe you actually committed it or not. If you are facing criminal charges in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it’s important to understand what type of charge is being brought against you and the degree of that charge.  

At Adams Kearney Law, our skilled criminal defense attorneys in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, can assist you in reaching the most favorable resolution possible if you are facing criminal charges. No matter how minor or serious the charges are, we can help you prepare the most effective defense strategy, with the goal to help you avoid or reduce fines and jail time. From our office in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, we serve individuals facing criminal charges throughout the greater Philadelphia area, Chester County, Delaware County, and surrounding cities.  

Criminal Charges in Pennsylvania  

In Pennsylvania, there are two types of criminal charges – misdemeanors and felonies – each with varying degrees based on the severity of the crime committed. The severity of a crime is determined by its degree. First-degree crimes are considered the most serious, while third-degree crimes are classified as lesser offenses.  

  1. Misdemeanor charges are less serious than felony charges and can result in fines or up to five years in prison. These charges often involve minor offenses such as shoplifting, drug possession, DUI/DWI, disorderly conduct, and other nonviolent crimes. There are three categories of misdemeanors in Pennsylvania based on the severity of the offense: first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree. A first-offense DUI is typically a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania, but the penalties associated with the offense will vary based on the defendant’s level of intoxication.  

  1. Felony charges are more serious than misdemeanor charges and could result in more than two years in prison. These types of crimes include murder, rape, robbery, burglary, and other violent or serious offenses. The penalties for a felony conviction can also be much more severe than those for a misdemeanor conviction. There are five categories of felonies in Pennsylvania: felony murder, ungraded felony, a felony in the 1st degree, a felony in the 2nd degree, and a felony in the 3rd degree. Typically, drug trafficking and drug distribution charges are a felony in Pennsylvania, even if it is the defendant’s first-time offense. Murder in the first degree, which is considered an “intentional killing” under Pennsylvania law, is always a felony.   

There is also a third category of criminal offenses in Pennsylvania: summary offenses. It is the least serious type of criminal offense in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Common examples of summary offenses are underage drinking and reckless driving.  

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Pennsylvania Criminal Court Process  

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in the state of Pennsylvania, it is crucial that you understand the court process that lies ahead of you: 

1. Charges Filed 

The first step in any criminal case is for formal charges to be filed against you. Depending on the circumstances, this may occur when a police officer has reason to believe that you have committed a crime or after a warrant has been issued for your arrest. Once charges are filed, it is likely that an arrest will be made. During this time, it is important to remember that you have a right to remain silent and seek legal counsel as soon as possible.  

2. District Court  

Once formal charges are filed against you, your case proceeds to the district court. During this stage of proceedings, a preliminary arraignment will take place where you will be officially informed of the charges against you, and bail may be set by the district judge. Afterward, your attorney can begin preparing for a preliminary hearing which is held three to ten days after the date of the arrest. After the arraignment process is completed, post-arraignment procedures such as scheduling hearings and filing motions can begin.  

3. Attending the Preliminary Hearing  

The purpose of a preliminary hearing is for the district judge to determine if there is sufficient evidence against you so that your case can move forward toward trial in common pleas court. At this point, plea bargaining may take place between your attorney and prosecutors if they both agree that it would benefit both parties involved in some way.  

4. Transition to the Court of Common Pleas 

After the evidence has been presented at the preliminary hearing and it has been determined that your case should proceed to trial, it will proceed to a common pleas court—also known as circuit court—where more detailed information regarding your case will be filed by prosecutors. In addition, another formal arraignment will take place where any future actions related to your case may be discussed between attorneys involved in your trial. Following this stage of proceedings, status conferences and pre-trial conferences may take place depending on various factors related to the individual case.  

5. Resolution of the Case Before the Judge  

Before reaching sentencing, the resolution of your case must first take place before a judge either through non-trial disposition such as a guilty plea agreement or through a jury trial or bench trial. In some instances, dismissal by Commonwealth may also occur if the prosecution feels there is not enough evidence to pursue a conviction successfully or due to other extenuating circumstances involved with individual cases.     

6. Sentencing by The Court 

Once the resolution has taken place before a judge, sentencing can begin. Sentencing may include fines, jail time, probation, restitution payments, community service hours, mandatory drug testing, and others, depending on the severity of the offense(s). It’s essential during this stage of proceedings that any pertinent information regarding mitigating factors is brought forth before the judge makes a final decision concerning punishment.  

Criminal Defense Attorneys in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania  

At Adams Kearney Law, we can help you navigate the criminal court process if you find yourself in trouble with the law. Our criminal defense attorneys in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, understand that facing criminal charges can be a frightening and stressful experience. That is why we are committed to fighting for you to help you get the best possible outcome for your situation. Schedule a case evaluation with our attorneys today to discuss your case.