Pennsylvania Criminal Defense FAQs

Facing a criminal complaint in Western Pennsylvania may feel like a lonely time, but you have professionals who can support you. The criminal defense attorneys at Wyland Law Group are ready to represent you and protect your rights during any criminal proceedings in Pennsylvania. Call the team today at 412-710-0013 to discuss your case and schedule a complimentary consultation.

What Are the Rights of Those Accused of a Crime in Pennsylvania?

The U.S. constitution is a federal document protecting those accused of a crime at the state level. These protections include: 

  • the right to legal representation, 
  • the right to have a trial heard by a jury, 
  • protection against unreasonable search and seizure, 
  • the right to face your accuser, 

Ask us for more information about your specific circumstances—schedule an appointment with one of our legal professionals today.

Should I talk to the police?

The standard advice for anyone accused of a crime is not to talk to the police without an attorney present. This is because, even if you are innocent of the crime, the authorities will be able to use anything you say against you in court. For example, police officers who interview you might selectively share your answers without context in a way that could sway the jury to believe you are guilty of a crime. 

Speak to the police only with an attorney present, if you speak to them at all. It is an excellent approach to protecting your rights and interests within the context of an interview.

If you’re not under arrest, talking to the police could still provide them with information that implicates you in criminal activity. Your answers could be grounds to prompt further police action against you or other parties. Unless you are the victim of or witness a crime, only answer questions from the police with an attorney present.

If you’re innocent of the accusations, advise the officer that you will not answer any questions without an attorney present. Don’t volunteer information, even seemingly unrelated aspects. The only way to ensure that you don’t say anything incriminating is to stay silent until advised otherwise by our legal professionals.

Surprisingly, police officers can lie to you during a questioning session as an interrogation tactic. It is another reason why it is crucial to hire our criminal defense attorney from Wyland Law Group to be present during any police interview.

If you are wondering whether you inadvertently admitted to something and it is too late for an attorney to help, it is not—call Wyland Law Group immediately. Our legal professionals will try to repair the damage and prevent further incriminating utterances with proper representation present.

Potential lines of defense against criminal complaints in Pennsylvania include: 

  • defense of self, 
  • entrapment, 
  • lack of intent, 
  • necessity, 
  • duress, 
  • age, and 
  • double jeopardy. 

A defendant is only appointed a public defender if they can’t afford a private defense attorney. A judge will usually decide on this point. A public defense means that you will not get to choose who represents you. In many cases, you may not even be able to talk to your public defender except on the days of your court appearances. 

The burdensome caseloads of public defenders also mean they may not always be available to answer questions with the urgency you might expect as someone whose future is on the line. However, if you hire a private defense attorney like our legal professionals at Wyland Law Group, you will find us responsive and courteous whenever you need to communicate with us. We will also dedicate time outside of the courtroom to defending your case.

Yes. You have the right to represent yourself in your own defense in Pennsylvania. If you act in this role, you will be subject to all the same rules and guidelines as every other criminal defense attorney in Pennsylvania.

The classification of criminal offenses in Pennsylvania falls into summary, misdemeanor, or felony offenses. Examples of a summary offense include violating a business’s loitering ordinance, minor possession of alcohol, or acting with disorderly conduct. Summary offenses carry the most minor penalties of all criminal charges in Pennsylvania courts.

Misdemeanor and felony offenses in Pennsylvania carry minimum and maximum sentences and fines based on the degree of the crime. There are also many different levels at which to charge a felony and misdemeanor.

In Pennsylvania, charges may include: 

  • misdemeanor in the first, second, or third degree; 
  • felonies in the first, second, or third degree; 
  • ungraded misdemeanors; or 
  • summary offenses. 

Examples of each of these types are: 

  • First-degree felony: Murder, rape, kidnapping, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
  • Second-degree felony: False imprisonment of a juvenile, burglary when no one is present.
  • Third-degree felony: Theft of property between $2,000 and $100,000, bribery.
  • First-degree misdemeanor: Multiple DUIs, stalking.
  • Second-degree misdemeanor: Shoplifting, theft between $50 and $200.
  • Third-degree misdemeanor: Presenting false identification to law enforcement, cyber harassment of a minor.
  • Summary offense: Underage drinking, loitering.

The degree of the accusations against you determines the penalties imposed.

If you face multiple criminal charges in Pennsylvania, you may have the chance to consider accepting a plea bargain. Typically, this means pleading guilty or no contest to the lesser charges while the prosecutor drops the severe charge. If your defense attorney and the prosecuting attorney can agree to a plea bargain, the case will not go to trial.

A first-time charge of driving while under the influence (DUI) is a misdemeanor. Three DUIs in a ten-year period will make the fourth DUI in Pennsylvania a felony.

If you’re unable to pay fines in Pennsylvania, you may be subject to additional penalties, interest, and other fees. Failure to pay a fine may also result in jail time. A private defense attorney from Wyland Law Group can work to lower these fines with relevant information and presentation to the judge about facts and evidence of your ability to pay.

Fine reductions also depend on the nature of the crime, though. Why not consult with a Wyland Law Group attorney about how to work out a payment plan or how to prove your circumstances to the judge?

When the police give the option of talking to them or searching property, they are typically looking for evidence to charge and convict you of a crime. If you allow them to search without a warrant, you are waiving your Fourth Amendment right (the U.S. constitution clause that protects you from unlawful searches).

Yes, you can refuse a breathalyzer test in Pennsylvania if you do not mind facing automatic punishment. Driving a motor vehicle in Pennsylvania gives implied consent for a law enforcement officer to request a breathalyzer if there is reasonable suspicion that you are operating the vehicle under the influence.

The length of time between a criminal complaint and the trial depends on the severity of the charge. Felonies typically have a six-month timeline until the trial date, while misdemeanors move to trial within 90 days of filing the criminal complaint. Timelines vary greatly, but a Wyland Law Group criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the system smoothly.

You have the right to be present at your preliminary arraignment, preliminary hearing, and arraignment. However, you can waive these rights and not appear until a pretrial conference, where you can enter your guilty plea.

Lack of intent is a valid defense to a criminal complaint in Pennsylvania. If we take on your criminal case, Wyland Law Group can argue lack of intent if that is your defense.

Felony charges appear on your record forever in Pennsylvania. A misdemeanor criminal offense conviction may come off your record after seven years, but it depends on the type of crime. It is only possible if you have not had any new charges during that period. 

Not all misdemeanors are eligible for expungement, including those involving violence, weapons, or sex crimes. Expungement of summary convictions is possible after a time, depending on the degree of the crime, the defendant’s age, the type of offense, and other factors.

Do you have questions about the specific charges you are facing in Pennsylvania? Then, contact Wyland Law Group’s criminal defense attorneys in Western Pennsylvania for a complimentary first consultation and legal support. Call us at 412-710-0013 today.

Contact a Pennsylvania DUI Attorney Today

The Wyland Law Group is a Western Pennsylvania law firm committed to serving the community and protecting the rights of individuals in criminal proceedings. Our team’s many years of experience mean we know how Pennsylvania law operates, and we make that knowledge work for clients by providing great advice and helping them make decisions that lead to suitable outcomes. 

We are dedicated to demystifying the legal process and being there for our clients every step of the way. Our legal team will quickly answer questions and make the DUI process as smooth as possible. 

Call now at 412-710-0013 to speak to a friendly representative and learn more about how we can help you.

Contact Us Today

Whether you have been charged with your first offense or your third, having an experienced attorney on your side is critical to your ability to defend yourself against the government’s allegations. I have the knowledge and experience to help you achieve the best possible results.

I offer flexible office hours, including evenings to work around your schedule. I look forward to meeting you and discussing with you how I can help.

    The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

    Wyland Law Group

    5458 Steubenville Pike, Suite D
    McKees Rocks, PA 15136

    Telephone: 412-710-0013
    Fax: 412-238-4051