CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
PHILADELPHIA OFFICE LOCATION
1500 Walnut Street, Suite 900
Philadelphia, PA 19102
AREAS SERVED IN PHILADELPHIA
PHILADELPHIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY
A criminal charge in Philadelphia begins with an arrest and Preliminary Arraignment. At the arraignment, bail is set and a Preliminary Hearing is scheduled. As a defendant, you are entitled to representation at every step of the criminal proceedings. Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Michael F. Niznik will assist you at every stage of the case. Contact our office as soon as possible for a free consultation and to allow Attorney Niznik to begin working on your defense.
PHILADELPHIA DUI CHARGES
A Philadelphia driver can be charged with a DUI if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is over .08%. Police officers will usually seek to establish impairment by requesting that you perform field sobriety tests and a portable breath test. A Philadelphia DUI conviction carries severe penalties which can include jail, loss of license, and steep fines. Because of this, it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced Philadelphia DUI lawyer at the earliest possible moment.
Philadelphia DUI Lawyer, Michael F. Niznik, has successfully handled numerous DUI charges in the Philadelphia Court System. It is important to seek the counsel of an experienced Philadelphia lawyer when facing a charge as they know the nuances of the Philadelphia court system.
DEFENSES TO A DUI CHARGE IN PHILADELPHIA
· Probable cause: A Philadelphia police officer must have probable cause to pull your vehicle over and to request that you submit to field sobriety tests.
· BAC incorrect: Many times, the machines used to test your BAC in Philadelphia are incorrectly used or incorrectly calibrated. In these instances, a suppression motion may be appropriate to suppress the results of this incorrect test.
· Defendant was not under the influence: Often, a Philadelphia police officer will cite subjective observations to charge an individual with a DUI. These observations can be incorrect and this error can lead to a dismissal of your charges.
PHILADELPHIA SPEEDING TICKET LAWYER
If you are charged with a traffic violation in Philadelphia, you may be facing points on your license, a license suspension, or even jail. Philadelphia traffic attorney, Michael F. Niznik, is well-versed in the traffic court system and will seek to minimize the impact this citation has on your life.
CRIMINAL PROCESS AFTER
ARREST IN PHILADELPHIA COUNTY
WHAT TO EXPECT WITH A DUI ARREST IN PHILADELPHIA
A DUI or criminal arrest in Philadelphia typically begins with a traffic stop. An officer will usually cite a traffic violation (weaving, red light violation, etc.) to justify the stop. After approaching your vehicle, the officer may ask you to complete a series of field sobriety tests. These test may include following a pen with your eyes, walking line, or lifting one leg. The officer may also ask you to submit to a breath test. After completing their investigation, you may be arrested and taken down to the police station where you will be placed before a Judge for your Preliminary Arraignment.
PRELIMINARY ARRAIGNMENT IN PHILADELPHIA
A Philadelphia Preliminary Arraignment occurs before a Municipal Court Judge. The purpose of this proceeding is for Judge to inform you of the charges against you, inform you of your right to be represented by an attorney, set bail, and schedule the Preliminary Hearing.
Often times, for low graded crimes such as DUI, the Magistrate will set your bail at ROR “Released on your own Recognizance” or unsecured bail.
ROR means that you do not have to post any money to be released from custody and you will not have to meet any bail conditions during your bail period.
Unsecured bail means that you do not have to post any money to be released from custody pending your trial but you do have to meet certain conditions during your release. These conditions may include being monitored by a bail agency or a stay-away order from the complainant.
If you are charged with a more serious crime, the Judge may require you to post money to be released from custody pending your trial or may deny bail all together.
PRELIMINARY HEARING IN PHILADELPHIA
A Philadelphia Preliminary Hearing is the first substantive hearing in the criminal justice process. At this stage, the prosecutor must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a crime may have been committed and the crime was likely committed by the defendant.
A Preliminary Hearing in Philadelphia is not a trial and there are restrictions on what types of evidence a defense attorney can admit. Nonetheless, a preliminary hearing is a valuable tool to establish testimony and elicit facts for trial.
In some cases, it may be possible to have charges changed, reduced or dismissed at the Preliminary Hearing.
Once the Preliminary Hearing is concluded, any charges that are held for court are moved to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas for a Formal Arraignment.
FORMAL ARRAIGNMENT IN PHILADELPHIA
Any charges that have been held for court will be formally read against you at the Formal Arraignment. Much like a Preliminary Arraignment, at the Formal Arraignment, you are advised you of your rights and asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.
PRE TRIAL CONFERENCE OR CALL OF THE LIST IN PHILADELPHIA
Depending on where you were arrested, after the Formal Arraignment your case will be scheduled for a Pre Trial Conference or Call of the List. Both hearings serve the same purpose – to advise the trial Judge of the status of the case. If a plea deal has been negotiated, many times the case can be disposed of at this time. If a trial needs to be scheduled, the Judge will be advised and schedule the trial accordingly.
TRIAL IN PHILADELPHIA
Cases that do not reach a Plea agreement are listed for trial. Trial can occur before a jury or as a bench trial with the Judge sitting as the jury. The burden of the Commonwealth at trial is beyond all reasonable doubt. This means that the Commonwealth must prove your guilt on each and every charge beyond all reasonable doubt. If your cases is being heard before a jury, all 12 jurors must agree that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for you to be convicted.
SENTENCING HEARING IN PHILADELPHIA
If you enter into a negotiated guilty plea or are found guilty at trial, your case will proceed to a sentencing hearing. At this hearing, your attorney will be able to present evidence of justification, rehabilitation, etc. After each side has made their arguments, the Judge will hand down his sentence.