Citations Criminal law is the body of law that regulates “public wrongs,” offenses against the public order. Federal, state, and municipal governments define and prosecute people who commit crimes that range from minor traffic violations to misdemeanors to felony offenses. The people who are charged with a crime are called defendants. They are represented by criminal defense attorneys. The government is represented by a lawyer called a prosecutor. If you are charged with a crime, you need the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. Your Rights Defendants have the right to an Attorney throughout legal proceedings. The court will appoint an attorney at no charge if the defendant cannot afford to hire one. Defendants have the Right to a Jury Trial in which the defendant is presumed innocent and cannot be convicted unless twelve (12) impartial jurors are convinced of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Defendants have the Right to Confront Witnesses and cross examine all witnesses testifying against the defendants. Defendants have the Right Against Self Incrimination, which means they may remain silent and that cannot be used to incriminate them. Defendants have the Right to Produce Evidence and to have the court issue subpoenas to bring witnesses and evidence favorable to them to court at no cost to them. The United States Constitution prohibits taking a person’s life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Therefore, a criminal statute must clearly set out the conduct that will be considered criminal. Criminal statutes must state exactly what conduct is prohibited, actus reus. The criminal statute must also set forth the state of mind of the guilty person, mens rea. Crimes of attempt require doing something toward the commission of the crime. The attorneys at Mooney & Associates will help you understand the elements of the crime for which you are being prosecuted. Every defense and prosecution lawyer involved in the criminal justice system must adhere to a complex set of rules and procedures to ensure a fair trial. This complicated procedure means that the criminal justice system is best dealt with by an experienced criminal defense attorney. The attorneys of Mooney & Associates are just what you’re looking for. The attorneys at Mooney & Associates should get involved in a case at the earliest stages, even before interrogation, if possible. The arresting officers have an obligation to inform the person in custody that he or she has the right to an attorney, and the right to have an attorney appointed if he or she does not have the resources to pay for an attorney. Although most of us are familiar with these warnings, called “Miranda” rights, named for the U.S. Supreme Court case that first required the warnings, it is important that you exercise that right if you are brought in for interrogation. Juvenile Justice System Crimes committed by children are handled by a separate criminal justice system known as the juvenile justice system. Although juvenile courts typically have less formal procedures, it is important to consult a defense attorney before attending your child’s adjudication. A juvenile can be tried as an adult when charged with a serious offense and certain criteria is met. We have handled many juvenile cases, resolving the matters with both the juvenile and parent’s best interest. Negotiations Criminal charges may be dropped or reduced to a lessor charge when a defense attorney negotiates with the prosecutor. In some cases the defendant may plead guilty to a lessor charge in exchange for the prosecutor’s agreement to drop the more serious charges. The final determination as to whether or not to accept a proposed plea agreement rests with the defendant and the acceptance of the court. Depending upon the severity of the crime committed, a defendant who is found guilty may be sentenced to a period of probation, to pay a fine, to perform community service, to make restitution, to pay for the monetary losses caused by the crime, or to serve time in prison. In Pennsylvania, the most severe crimes are punishable by death. The attorneys at Mooney & Associates know how to work with the prosecutor to fashion a deal that provides for the least severe punishment possible. If no deal can be made, we can mount an aggressive defense in court to convince the jury that the prosecutor cannot prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant has committed the crime. When you are accused of a crime, you will find yourself in a frightening and stressful situation. No matter how minor the charge may seem, you need to be represented by the people involved in the process who can work through the criminal justice system, giving you zealous representation and who minimize the impact of the proceedings on your life. If you have been accused of a crime, do not delay in contacting the attorneys at Mooney & Associates. The attorneys at Mooney & Associates, Attorneys at Law, will fight for your rights when your future is at stake with not only experience inside the system as past district attorneys, but also with over a half century of combined experience working for the defense in the criminal justice system. Mooney and Associates’ lawyers have the experience you need to get the results you want. Summary Offenses Summary offenses are minor infractions of the law, including traffic offenses and public nuisance offenses. More than ninety percent of people in the United States over the age of 16 are licensed to drive, and there is more than one car registered for each licensed driver. This translates into trillions of miles driven each year, and millions of traffic law offenses. Traffic crimes, like all others, can lead to missed work, stiff fines, lost driving privileges, increased insurance rates and even prison time for repeat offenders. The criminal justice system would be completely overwhelmed if each offense required a full criminal adjudication. Accordingly, traffic law violations have been divided into three categories: felonies, misdemeanors, and summary offenses with the lesser offenses handled in a more informal manner. Although summary offenses may not carry the same stigma and penalties as other more serious offenses, some of the less serious violations, if they become a part of a serious of violations by the same offender, can result in imprisonment. Therefore, summary offenses should not be taken lightly. Experienced summary offense attorneys can explain the possible consequences of the various violations and represent those charged with summary offenses throughout the resolution of the matter taking the mystery out of the process and increasing the chance of the least serious outcome. Attorneys at Mooney & Associates, Attorneys at Law, have the experience you need to defend your case at the District Justice hearing and on appeal to the Court of Common Pleas. Traffic Offenses A traffic offense can even become a misdemeanor or felony if someone is hurt or killed or if there is serious property damage. Some offenses are misdemeanors on their own such as drunk driving, DUI, DWI, or operating a vehicle without a license or while your license is suspended. If you are charged with a traffic-related crime, you should treat your situation the same way you would any other criminal charge and seek the advice of an experienced criminal law attorney, the attorneys at Mooney & Associates. Each state has a system that assigns a point value to each traffic offense. More serious offenses have higher point values, whereas minor violations are assigned minimal points. Points can accumulate over time and can affect driving privileges and insurance rates. The attorneys of Mooney & Associates, Attorneys at Law, can explain the point values for the convictions of the various traffic offenses and what impact they may have on your driving future. When you hear the sirens blaring and see the red lights flashing in your rear-view mirror, it can sometimes be hard to think fast and rationally when under the inherent stress of a police stop. Acting appropriately in that nerve-racking situation can actually save some aggravation and maybe even some money in the long run. If you do come away from the stop with a ticket, the lawyers at Mooney & Associates, Attorneys at Law, can advise you on what to expect thereafter. Search and Seizure The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects individuals against unreasonable searches and seizures of their personal property which includes their cars. When police pull you over for a traffic stop, they must respect the Fourth Amendment and refrain from any unreasonable searches and seizures. However, what is reasonable varies from case to case, and you may find that the police do find reason to search your vehicle while stopped for a traffic violation. The attorneys at Mooney & Associates, Attorneys at Law, are experienced in traffic law and search and seizure law and can explain in detail what traffic stop searches are reasonable, and when police may have crossed the line, and then present a motion to suppress seized evidence.