First, you will be required to attend a Preliminary Arraignment, which may be conducted via two-way closed-circuit audio-visual communication. At the Preliminary Arraignment a copy of the criminal complaint will be issued to you. If there is no warrant for your arrest, then there must be probable cause to detain you. If there is a warrant or probable cause is found, the court will set bail.

Next, is the Preliminary Hearing. The purpose of the Preliminary Hearing is to determine whether there is probable cause to send the charges to the Common Pleas Court. The standard to find probable cause is by preponderance of the evidence, which is not a high burden for the prosecution.

The Preliminary Hearing must be held within fourteen (14) days of the arraignment if a defendant is in custody and within twenty-one (21) days if a defendant is not in custody.

At the preliminary hearing you and your attorney will have the opportunity to examine evidence against you, cross-examine witnesses, call witnesses, testify, and take notes and recordings. If at the conclusion of the hearing the court finds that the Commonwealth has established a prima facie case against you, then the charges will proceed.

Soon thereafter, you will be formally arraigned and preparation for trial will begin beginning with a request for discovery. If retained to handle your case, after reviewing the discovery file, Klopp Law will file any pre-trial motions that our attorney deems appropriate.

Offenses are graded slightly differently in each system so it is important to understand what the differences are and what the potential penalties can be depending on what kind of charges you are facing.

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, offenses are graded as a Summary, Misdemeanor, or Felony depending on the seriousness of the crime.

Summary Offenses. These offenses carry the least severe criminal penalties. Summary offenses usually consist of minor crimes such as harassment, low-level theft, driving under suspension other traffic related offenses. The penalty for most summary offenses is a fine. However, some summary offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences of up to 90 days imprisonment. Even in the case of a summary offense, having legal representation throughout the process can help improve your outcomes, and Klopp Law is ready to help.

Misdemeanors. These offenses are more serious than summary offenses and there are separate degrees of misdemeanor depending on the seriousness of the offense:

The least serious degree are third-degree misdemeanors can include disorderly conduct or theft of property worth less than $50.. Unless otherwise specified, ungraded misdemeanors have the same degree of penalties as third-degree misdemeanors, and these offenses can carry penalties of up to one year in jail or fines of up to $2500.

Second-degree misdemeanors are slightly more serious and include offenses such as failure to disperse after a lawful order, or simple assault. These second-degree misdemeanors can carry penalties of up to two years in jail or fines of up to $5000.

First-degree misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanor offenses and can include shoplifting merchandise worth more than $150, theft of property between $200 and $2000 in value, or even involuntary manslaughter depending on the circumstances. First-degree misdemeanors carry a maximum sentence of up to five (5) years and $10,000.00 in fines.

Felony Offenses. The most serious crimes are graded as Felony Offenses. Like misdemeanors, felonies are divided into degrees:

Third-degree felonies include offenses such as animal fighting or reckless discharge of a firearm into an occupied structure. This category of felonies can result in up to 7 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000.

Second-degree felonies include offenses such as aggravated assault or theft of a firearm. These second-degree felonies can result in imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or fines up to $25,000.

First-degree felonies are serious offenses including rape, kidnapping, aggravated arson, and burglary. Offenses that are graded as a first-degree felony can carry a sentence of up to twenty (20) years in addition to fines up to $25,000.

It depends. Although the burden is on the government to show that a crime has been committed and the person charged is more likely than not the person who committed the crime, the standard of proof required at a Preliminary Hearing is very low.

However, Klopp Law has been able to get felony and misdemeanor charges dismissed or lowered to a summary offense the Preliminary Hearing in some cases.

In addition to penalties imposed by the court, a criminal conviction could have severe consequential damages on your family, finances, career, and reputation. For example, if you are convicted of a felony, you will:

  1. Lose the right to become an elected official. (Pennsylvania Constitution Art. II §7),
  2. Lose voting rights while incarcerated,
  3. Be disqualified from serving on a jury,
  4. Be prohibited from owning a firearm. (18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6105; 18 U.S.C. 922(g)),
  5. Lose eligibility for student loans. (22 Pa. C.S.A. § 121.6; 20 U.S.C. § 1091(r)),
  6. Be ineligible to become a foster parent or adopt a child,
  7. Be ineligible for certain types of employment,
  8. Lose professional license(s), and
  9. Be required to provide a DNA sample if the offense is one specified in 44 Pa.C.S.A. §2316.

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition is a program for first time offenders. It is normally granted for persons charged with summary or misdemeanor offenses. Under certain circumstance a low-level felony offense may be considered for the ARD Program.

The ARD program gives a person the opportunity to complete a supervised program (like probation) usually lasting six months to two years while the charges are still pending.

After successful completion of the program the person will be able to have the charges dismissed and the record expunged.

Even innocent people sometimes face serious penalties in the criminal justice system.

The Innocence Project has helped hundreds of people prove their innocence after being convicted of serious crimes that they did not commit, but not every crime leaves easily tested DNA evidence to use to help exonerate the innocent.

Sometimes good people get caught up in bad circumstances and can end up with convictions for things they didn’t do.

Klopp Law recognizes the importance of providing serious defense for everyone no matter the circumstances. Klopp Law can help you navigate the rough waters of the criminal justice system even if you’re certain of your legal position.

Guilty people need good representation in court just as much as anyone else. Anyone can make a mistake, but don’t give up on yourself and your future because you made one error in judgment.

Good legal representation can help shape the course of your contact with the justice system and can dramatically change how things play out both in court and afterwards.

Klopp Law is ready to help you no matter what caused you to be charged with a crime. Klopp Law can help you sort through your options and maximize your future even if you are certain that you will be found guilty.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.