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Skala | Miller, PLLC, Attorneys at Law
Serving The Entire Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Area

Greensburg Legal Blog

Police say former D.A. suppressed drug charges, got sexual favors

Pennsylvania has always had a fair share of public officials who have been arrested and convicted of crimes. The list includes former attorneys general, legislators and police officers. Reports of a high-ranking state law enforcement officer being caught up in allegations of criminality are always shocking and difficult to understand. The latest official to be accused of serious criminality, including the suppression of drug charges and obtaining sexual favors,  is the District Attorney of Bedford County, William Higgins.

The 43-year-old prosecutor resigned from the job recently under a cloud of criminal charges that included obstruction of law enforcement, reckless endangerment, official oppression and hindrance of a prosecution. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced that Higgins had traded his law enforcement authority for sexual favors. Authorities accused him of accessing confidential police records to manipulate the cases against women, refusing to approve search warrants, offering lenient plea bargains and thwarting drug prosecutions.

Can your smartphone prevent DUI charges?

You leave the bar Friday evening after a few drinks with friends. As you slide the key into your car’s ignition you think “I wonder if I’m legally able to drive.” This is a common predicament for many Pennsylvania residents.

While many people know that the legal limit is 0.08, few can accurately predict their BAC on any given night. It is difficult to estimate your BAC, and it can change based on a number of factors other than the amount of alcohol consumed. Can your smartphone provide the answer?

State officials back criminal defense reforms to lower recidivism

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently announced that he favors broad reform of the criminal justice system in the state. He claims that the system is broken and needs to be fixed, adding that his administration has promoted programs that would divert individuals from incarceration and that favor rehabilitation. Criminal defense attorneys will likely welcome the Governor's embrace of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative II reforms, which recommend legislative reforms in all major phases of a criminal case.

Wolf has called on the legislature to pass the Justice Reinvestment reforms, which are the result of a study chaired by the Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, over the past year and a half. Shapiro says the new policies are both tough and smart, and said they would save the state about $100 million over the next five years. One of the goals is to increase resources to county probation departments so that the number of supervision violations will be reduced, thus reducing also the number of incarcerations.

Criminal defense counsel ponders 'hungry for meatballs' defense

Criminal behavior in Pennsylvania runs the gamut of human experience. Sometimes, an arrest cannot be explained because there are no apparent motives. In other situations, the motive is clearly greed and the obtaining of services or property of another for financial gain. How is the law to be enforced, however, and is there a criminal defense to be recognized, when the motive for the crime is one's need to eat food.

That is the question facing the criminal justice system in Luzerne County after authorities there arrested a 48-year-old man for burglary, criminal trespass and theft by unlawful taking pursuant to the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. The charges have to do with one activity alleged against the accused. He is said to have gone into a man's garage recently and absconded with a pot of meatballs.

Pennsylvania resident facing drunk driving charges after crash

Pennsylvania takes drunk driving very seriously. Individuals charged with drunk driving could potentially experience significant fines and other penalties should a conviction be secured. After a recent accident, one local woman is now facing some hefty drunk driving charges and possibly jail time should the court rule against her.

On a recent Monday night, police reported that the suspect was allegedly traveling at a high rate of speed before striking several parked vehicles, along with a brick stairway, traffic signal post and a retaining wall. Police charged the individual with DUI and hit-and-run since one of the parked vehicles was occupied at the time of the accident. Police also reported the defendant's blood alcohol content to be .21 percent, over half the legal limit.

Traffic violation leads to drug charges

Federal and state drug charges in Pennsylvania carry potentially stiff penalties, often including prison time. The severity of the penalty is dependent on the type and amount of drug involved. A conviction for selling or distributing the drugs will also result in more severe penalties. One man is now facing multiple drug charges after a traffic stop in Mt. Pleasant.

According to police reports, a man was stopped by police and given a warning for a minor traffic violation after crossing the right white line on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. After receiving the warning, the driver apparently refused to allow officers to search the vehicle. Police claim they observed numerous unspecified criminal indicators.

School superintendent charged with drunk driving

Driving under the influence can have serious repercussions, especially if one is found guilty. Individuals who have been accused of drunk driving not only pay hefty fines, but they may also face social embarrassment or job-related problems. After a recent traffic stop, a western Pennsylvania school superintendent's job is in jeopardy after he was charged with driving under the influence.

For unknown reasons, the superintendent was stopped by police for allegedly driving under the influence and was put on paid leave until his arraignment. In cases similar to this, there many factors to consider while waiting for an upcoming trial. Was the vehicle stopped for any legal reason? Was the stop performed under the accordance of the law? Was a field sobriety test given?

Man with domestic relations warrant faces drug charges

A man in Pennsylvania was recently taken into custody for drug-related offenses. However, the police search that led to his drug charges initially had nothing to do with drugs. Instead, the man had an active domestic relations warrant for not making child support payments.

According to police, when they were searching for the 52-year-old man due to his warrant, they received a tip that he was involved in selling large amounts of cocaine. They were also told that he was staying in an inn at the time. When police arrived at the inn, they were able to go into his room, where they allegedly found a handgun along with marijuana and cocaine.

When Custody Modifications Are A Good Idea

A period of time after the initial divorce settlement, it’s a good idea to revisit the custody agreement to see if there’s a need for modifications to the plan. In Pennsylvania law, there are 16 best interest factors that act as a guideline for acceptable initial custody agreements as well as modifications. The factors break down into a few categories. Successful modifications keep these deliberation factors in mind:

Parental Caregiver Availability

Alleged drunk driving and alcohol test refusal lead to new fee

For those who are stopped and suspected of driving while intoxicated in Pennsylvania, a major question is whether they should take a blood or breath test. A new state law regarding drunk driving may change how individuals in these situations respond to breath or blood test results. According to the state law, which will go into effect on Jan. 11, there is a brand-new fee for those who refuse to submit to blood alcohol testing.

This new fee comes on the heels of a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that police are not allowed to secure blood samples if they do not have consent or warrants. With the new law, police can simply use the threat of a fee to motivate people to undergo testing, without necessarily having to worry about obtaining consent or warrants first. The new fee is for restoring a driver's license and may run as high as $2,000.

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