Penn State University student avoids Public Drunkenness and Disorderly Conduct Convictions

Recently, the Zuckerman Law Firm represented a college student at Penn State University, who was cited with public drunkenness and disorderly conduct. The client was accused of being intoxicated at an apartment complex, leading security to contact police, who in turn issued citations. If convicted, the client faced up to $900 in fines and court costs, along with publicly searchable convictions. 

Represented by Attorney Zuckerman, the court granted counsel's request to dismiss charges when the police officer failed to appear in court as required. Based upon the favorable resolution, the client is now able to pursue a criminal record expungement, to remove the case information off of the PA Unified Judicial System Portal. 

If you are a Penn State Student cited with an offense in Western Pennsylvania, please feel free to contact the Zuckerman Law Firm at 412-447-5580 for a free case consultation. 

Construction Worker Avoids Felony Convictions for Illegal Home Entry

The Zuckerman Law Firm recently represented a construction worker accused of Criminal Trespass, a felony of the third degree punishable by up to 7 years in jail. He stood accused of entering another person's home without permission while under the influence of alcohol. As a gainfully employed construction worker with a past criminal record, a conviction for this offense could have led to his incarceration and loss of employment. 

The client was represented by Attorney Zuckerman, who referred the client for a drug and alcohol assessment. On the preliminary hearing date, a deal was worked out where the client plead to simple trespasser and public drunkenness summary offenses, receiving credit for time served. In short, the felonies were dropped to the lowest possible criminal offenses where no additional fines became due. 

This resolution was ideal under the circumstances, eliminating the need for a costly and stressful trial. 

ARD & No License Suspension Saves Job for Washington County Client

In December of 2017, Attorney Zuckerman successfully lobbied the ARD Court judge for leniency on behalf of a client facing a loss of employment with a license suspension. The client was charged with a 1st Offense, Middle Tier DUI based upon having a blood alcohol concentration between a .10% to a .16%, but closer to the higher end of this range. 

Although a negotiated agreement was reached for him to be admitted into the ARD program, he faced a 30 day license suspension upon conviction. Given his line of work, he stood a near 100% chance of losing his job, pension, and health benefits. 

Prior to the case being called, Attorney Zuckerman was able to successfully argue at sidebar for the Court to admit the client into ARD on a DUI - General Impairment charge, which carries no license suspension. This offense allowed him to continue to provide for his family while also holding him properly accountable for the decision to drink and drive. 

College Student's Felony Criminal Trespass Charges Dismissed

Our office was retained to represent a college student with no criminal history accused of breaking into a fellow student's apartment. The client was charged with Criminal Trespass, a felony of the second degree, punishable by a maximum prison sentence of up to 10 years in jail. Along with jail time, this student faced a permanent criminal record and expulsion from the university. 

This case posed significant challenges for the defense, as there was more than ample evidence to convict if the case went to trial. Our firm's representation of the client centered around damage control - showing the prosecution that this was a good person who deserved a second chance. 

At the preliminary hearing, our firm successfully advocated on our client's behalf with the arresting officer and District Attorney, who agreed that based upon the circumstances, that prosecution of the felony charge was not necessary. The felony charge was dropped in return for the client's guilty plea to a summary disorderly conduct for fines and court costs only. Based upon this successful result, the client is eligible to pursue an expungement of the dismissed criminal trespass charge. 

Attorney Dave Zuckerman Selected as 2018 PA Super Lawyers Rising Star

Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Lawyer Dave Zuckerman has been selected to the 2018 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers Rising Stars list. This professional honor is only awarded to 2.5% of eligible criminal defense and DUI defense lawyers in Pennsylvania. 

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.

The Super Lawyers lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. Attorney Zuckerman's listing can be found on the Super Lawyers Website

Tips for Handling a 3rd Offense DUI Arrest in Pittsburgh

Learn more about how to handle your 3rd DUI case by viewing this website. For a free consultation, contact former DUI prosecutor and Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer Dave Zuckerman at 412-447-5580 today. 

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Unlawful Dissemination of Intimate Image Charges Dismissed for Allegheny Co. Man

Based upon a referral from another law firm, our office was retained to represent a man accused of disseminating naked photographs of his ex-wife to mutual acquaintances. It was alleged that the client texted nude photos of his ex-wife from the neck down to a friend, as revenge for the ex-wife cheating on the client. Three months later, and without direction to do so by the client, the friend showed the photos to his co-workers, which ultimately led to the commencement of a criminal investigation and criminal charges being filed. 

After meeting with the client and preparing for the preliminary hearing, multiple evidentiary weaknesses were discovered. First, the photographs were never recovered during the course of the investigation, and none of the witnesses had personal knowledge if the body parts depicted in the photograph were actually those of the ex-wife. Second, several of the witnesses may have conspired to delete evidence. Third, there was no evidence to support that the client directed his friend to disseminate the photos to others for the purpose of harassing his ex-wife, which is an element of the offense. 

Upon discussing the case with the investigating officer and District Attorney, it was agreed that the case should not be prosecuted further at the Court of Common Pleas level. As such, the misdemeanor Unlawful Dissemination charge was dismissed in return for a guilty plea to summary offenses for fines and court costs. 

Military Veteran receives 1 year of probation for 2 DUI cases in Bedford Co.

In 2016, our office was retained to represent a military veteran who picked up two separate DUI cases in quick succession. The client was charged at the first case with a DUI for the Highest Rate of Alcohol offense and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. At the second case, the client was charged with a DUI for a High Rate of Alcohol. She faced a total mandatory minimum jail sentence of 33 days in jail at both cases, and up to 5 and 1/2 years of total confinement or probationary supervision. 

Our office was able to negotiate an agreement for the client to plead guilty to DUI General Impairment charges, both of which were treated as first offenses. For first offense DUI General Impairment charges, there is no mandatory jail sentence, but a mandatory period of probation of 6 months at each case for a total of 1 year of probation. In negotiating this agreement, our office worked with the client to chronicle her military history, compile character reference letters, and provide documentation of treatment. Providing a vast array of mitigating documentation helped persuade the District Attorney's office to offer a favorable resolution of these cases.

Felony Gun Charges Dismissed and Probation Detainer Lifted for Working Man

In May of 2017, a ZLF client found himself charged with Carrying a Firearm Without a License when a firearm was located under the front passenger seat of his vehicle. Our client was giving a ride to a neighbor's friend when he failed to use a turn signal. A traffic stop was conducted, and without any prior knowledge that the passenger was armed, the passenger stuffed a gun under the front passenger seat of the vehicle. Both men blamed one another for the gun, and as a result, the police charged them both with Carrying a Firearm Without a License based upon a theory of joint constructive possession. To make matters worse, the client was held in jail on a probation detainer for a non-violent offense pending the resolution of the case. 

Attorney Zuckerman conducted research on the passenger's background, discovering that he had prior firearms and violent crimes violations. Thereafter, he took this information to the District Attorney's Office, and after a fair review of the case file, the DA's office agreed to dismiss all gun possession charges at the preliminary hearing. On the other hand, the front seat passenger is properly facing trial for the firearms offenses. 

The client's case resolved with a guilty plea to a Driving on a Suspended License violation for 60-days of house arrest. One week after the gun charges were dropped, the detainer was lifted and the client returned to work to support his girlfriend and her children. 

This client was 100% innocent, and is grateful to the DA's office for their diligence in comprehensively reviewing the facts before making the right decision to only prosecute the responsible party. 

Reckless Driving Charges Dismissed After Police Officer Arrived Too Late

A recent ZLF client found himself charged with Reckless Driving and Safe Speed violations, facing a 6-month license suspension, over $400 in fines and court costs and likely loss of employment upon conviction. The client was accused of speeding through a red light at an intersection with heavy pedestrian traffic. Upon being stopped by a police officer, a verbal argument ensued, in which the officer ended up charging him with the most serious traffic charge he could. Our office was prepared for trial, as it appeared unlikely from the circumstances that the police officer would be willing to negotiate any reduction. 

This case is a classic example of why having an attorney to represent you on serious traffic offenses is money well spent. Although the magistrate's office was particularly busy that day, the Judge made an effort to call our case first to accommodate Attorney Zuckerman's schedule. At the time the case was called, the police officer was not present, which led to the dismissal of the case. Minutes later, the officer was observed entering the magistrate's office. Had the man been unrepresented, his case would not have been called first, and the charges would not have been dismissed. 

Felony 1 Burglary Charges Withdrawn for Wilkinsburg Man

In late 2016, a ZLF client was charged with Burglary and Simple Assault, accused of entering another's home and getting into a physical altercation while intoxicated. Prior to this incident, the client had a clean record and a full-time job. Burglary is a 1st-Degree Felony punishable by up to 20 years in jail. If convicted, the client would have lost his job and would have likely faced county jail time, even for a first conviction. 

At the preliminary hearing, Attorney Zuckerman was able to negotiate an agreement for the client to pay restitution to the homeowner, remain out of trouble for 90 days, while completing drug, alcohol and mental health evaluations. Upon providing proof of completion at a March 2017 review hearing, the Commonwealth withdrew the burglary offense, allowing the client to plead guilty to summary offenses, punishable by only fines and court costs. 

This resolution spared him from the stress of a costly trial and gives him the opportunity to expunge the felony burglary charge from his criminal record

 

Prohibited Offensive Weapons Charge for Brass Knuckle Possession Dismissed

A recent ZLF client with a clean record was found in possession of brass knuckles in a carry on bag, and was charged with Prohibited Offensive Weapons in Allegheny County. If convicted, some of the penalties include up to 5 years of jail time or probation, and a permanent criminal record that cannot be expunged. 

It is a defense to the Prohibited Offensive Weapons charge if the item is possessed solely as a collectors item. At the preliminary hearing, the defense offered photographs to establish that the brass knuckles were originally owned by a family member, who was an avid collector. The evidence also established that the brass knuckles were found in the same bag as multiple collectible items given to the client by a family member, which helped establish that this weapon was only kept as a collector's item. 

Based upon this evidence, the magistrate found that there was not a prima facie case for the Prohibited Offensive Weapons offense. The client is now eligible to expunge this matter from a criminal record. 

License Suspension Avoided For Client Who Missed Court

A ZLF client was recently charged with Driving on a Suspended License, in connection with a traffic stop occurring in Butler County. Due to paperwork issues that occurred in another state, the client's driving privileges were suspended for a longer period of time than what was required due to an diversionary program resolution of a DUI charge. In short, the client was very close to having his/her driver's license restored.

While unrepresented, the client was convicted at the magistrate level of the DSL offense, adding an additional 12 months to the original suspension. This result would have a disastrous impact upon his/her ability to take positions within his/her corporation requiring frequent travel. 

The client ultimately called ZLF with little time to spare. Our firm promptly filed a summary appeal before the Butler County Court of Common Pleas just before the 30 day deadline. We also filed a delay request letter with PennDOT, which was granted. This allowed the suspension to be delayed until the case was resolved.

 On the summary appeal hearing date, both the client and officer failed to appear. The Rules of Criminal Procedure provide that the Court should dismiss the appeal if the Defendant fails to appear, even if the citing officer also fails to appear. However, based upon negotiations with the prosecution, an agreement was reached to hold a stipulated trial, where the client was convicted of Driving Without a License. This charge carries no license suspension for a first offense. 

Although it is imperative to appear for all required court dates, the attorneys at ZLF were able to help a client achieve a desired outcome in his/her absence. 

Simple Assault Charges Withdrawn in Allegheny County on Trial Date

In April of 2017, a ZLF client employed as a tow truck driver was scheduled for a non-jury trial in Allegheny County on charges of Simple Assault and Harassment. The Commonwealth alleged as follows: (1) that the client had rammed the victim's vehicle on multiple occasions, causing damage to the vehicle and (2) that the victim was punched once and shoved into the side of the client's tow truck, causing broken ribs. 

At the preliminary hearing, the prosecution would not resolve the case with a plea to summary offenses. After conducting a preliminary hearing, the charges were held for court and scheduled for trial. No plea offer was made in advance of trial. 

As part of trial preparation, ZLF obtained copies of the emergency room records from the incident date, where the CT scans and physical examinations of the alleged victim revealed no evidence of bruising, swelling or fractures (i.e. broken ribs). Although the prosecution is not required to provide evidence of serious injury to prove a simple assault case, the medical evidence helped demonstrate that the alleged victim was not credible. Towing records also revealed a lack of damage to the alleged victim's vehicle, contradicting the claim that the vehicle was rammed. 

On the date of trial, the client accepted a plea offer where the misdemeanor Simple Assault charges were withdrawn in return for a guilty plea to summary crimes of Harassment and Disorderly Conduct for probation. 

Although this was a case that the prosecution should have agreed to resolve at the preliminary hearing, proper trial preparation helped achieve the proper result. 

Unsworn Falsification Charge Dismissed for Allegheny Co. Man

A retiree was recently charged with Unsworn Falsification to Authorities and the Unlawful Sale and Transfer of a Firearm, based upon his incorrect answer on a firearm purchase application. As a teenager in the 1970's, the client was convicted of a drug offense for possessing marijuana, and answered a question about prior drug crimes convictions incorrectly. 

The court dismissed the charges at the preliminary hearing, concluding that the Defendant made an error on the form, and did not act knowingly with the intent to mislead a public servant. Specifically, since the guilty plea to this charge happened over 40 years ago, the Court found that there was insufficient evidence to demonstrate that the client had any recollection of the charge at the time the application was completed. 

ZLF is now working on a full expungement petition for the client, which is expected to be ordered within the next 90 days. 

If you have ever had any involvement whatsoever with the criminal justice system, you should not attempt to buy a gun or apply for an open carry permit without reviewing your own criminal history with a lawyer. 

4th Offense DUI Charges, Ignition Interlock Violations Dismissed for Allegheny County Man

A ZLF client was charged with a 4th Offense DUI in connection with a two-vehicle accident in Allegheny County. We are please to announce that after the preliminary hearing, the charges were dismissed due to a lack of sufficient evidence. This resolution spared the client from a mandatory 1-2 year state prison sentence without eligibility for house arrest. 

In the summer of 2016, the client was operating a vehicle around a bend when his vehicle hydroplaned on the wet roadway, veered into an oncoming lane of traffic, striking the victim's vehicle. An independent eyewitness followed the client's vehicle for approximately 1/2 mile, observing no erratic driving behaviors prior to the crash. 

The client was treated at the hospital for injuries in connection with the crash. In the course of his treatment, a urine screen yielded a positive result for the presence of narcotics. However, neither the client's blood nor breath were tested. The client was not subjected to field sobriety testing, was not evaluated by a drug recognition expert, and did not display regular signs of impairment during his interaction with police. 

Recent amendments to Section 1547 of the PA Motor Vehicle Code only permit the introduction of blood or breath tests into evidence during DUI prosecutions. As there was no blood test conducted, and there was no independent evidence to suggest that the client was under the influence of narcotics at the time of operation, the charges were properly dismissed by the Court. 

Common Criminal Charges for St. Patrick's Day Arrest in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh St. Patrick's Day Arrests

Every year on St. Patrick's Day, City of Pittsburgh Police conduct multiple arrests and issue citations to intoxicated persons. If you've found this article, you've probably already been charged with an offense, and are seeking more information about your individual charges and on how to manage your situation moving forward. 

Here are some of the most frequently charged offenses on St. Patrick's Day in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania:

1. Public Drunkenness

No surprise - summary public drunkenness citations are commonly issued on St. Patrick's Day to individuals who appear in public and are intoxicated to a degree that they endanger themselves, endanger other people, endanger property or annoy others in close proximity. Those who are seen by police stumbling, vomiting, or otherwise show signs of being too drunk will be cited for public drunkenness. 

Possible Consequences: Approximately $450 in fines and court costs, maximum sentence of up to 90 days in jail, and criminal record that cannot be expunged for minimum period of 5 years, and possibly permanently. 

2. Public Urination & Defecation

Have to pee and there's a line at the next bar? Hold it, or you'll most certainly be picking up a public urination citation. Both police and local magistrates are cracking down on incidents of public urination. Public urination is considered a local ordinance summary violation. 

Possible Consequences: Approximately $450 in fines and court costs and record searchable on Unified Judicial System Portal.

3. Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is a catch-all provision that applies to a wide array of drunken behavior, and applies when an individual engages in certain types of prohibited conduct which causes public inconvenience while serving no legitimate purpose. You may find yourself cited with disorderly conduct for fighting, using foul language, disrespecting police officers, or otherwise causing a nuisance. DC can be graded as a summary, or a 3rd degree misdemeanor if serious public inconvenience occurred. 

Possible Summary Consequences: Approximately $450 in fines and court costs, maximum sentence of up to 90 days in jail, and criminal record that cannot be expunged for minimum period of 5 years, and possibly permanently. 

Possible 3rd-Degree Misdemeanor Consequences: Punishable by up to 1 year of jail/probation, permanent criminal record, fine of up to $2500, along with court costs. 

4. Underage Drinking

If you are under the age of 21, and you drank any amount of alcohol or held a drink, you may be facing Underage Drinking charges. Police do not need to breathalyze you to prove that you committed this offense. Circumstantial evidence of your consumption of alcohol is sufficient, such as having glassy or bloodshot eyes, an odor of alcohol on your breath, slurred speech or making a direct admission to having consumed alcohol. 

Possible Summary Consequences: 90-day license suspension for first offense (1-yr and 2-yr suspensions for 2nd and 3rd offenses), approximately $450 in fines and court costs, maximum sentence of up to 90 days in jail, and criminal record that cannot be expunged until the person turns 21 years of age. 

5. Defiant Trespass

If you were drunk, were asked to leave a bar, refused to do so, and continued pleading with the bouncer or police officer to let you back into the bar, you're probably facing a defiant trespass offense. Defiant trespass applies when a person enters or remains in a place after being given notice to leave. Depending on the circumstances, it may be charged as a summary offense or a 3rd-degree misdemeanor. 

Possible Summary Consequences: Approximately $450 in fines and court costs, maximum sentence of up to 90 days in jail, and criminal record that cannot be expunged for minimum period of 5 years, and possibly permanently. 

Possible 3rd-Degree Misdemeanor Consequences: Punishable by up to 1 year of jail/probation, permanent criminal record, fine of up to $2500, along with court costs. 

6. DUI - Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs

It's much cheaper to use Uber or Lyft than it is to hire a lawyer and pay off thousands of dollars in fines and court costs. Especially when DUI enforcement is at it's peak during the St. Patrick's Holiday. Nonetheless, some well-intentioned individuals who head out only to have a beer or two otherwise find themselves drinking more than expected, and chance it by driving home. Assuming you haven't killed or seriously injured someone, most of the common DUI penalties can be found here. 

7. Criminal Mischief

If you damaged or attempted to damage personal property, you may find yourself charged with Criminal Mischief. This offense can be graded as low as a summary for damage below $500, all the way up to a 3rd-Degree Felony for instances of severe property damage. To learn more about the consequences for your particular offense, please visit the above link. 

8. Resisting Arrest

If police attempted to place you into custody, and you wiggled, turned your body away from the officer, struggled or otherwise engaged in violent behavior, you will find yourself charged with Resisting Arrest. A person commits this crime when he or she intends on preventing a lawful arrest and either creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to police, or behaves in a manner requiring the use of substantial force to overcome resistance. 

Possible Consequences: 2nd Degree Misdemeanor punishable by up to 2 years of jail/probation, $5,000 fine, permanent criminal record. 

9. Simple Assault

If you threw punches, got into a bar fight, or became physically aggressive with police or other individuals, you can be charged with Simple Assault. This crime applies when a person causes, or attempts to cause, bodily injury to another person. Bodily injury includes impairment of physical condition or substantial pain. 

Possible Consequences: 2nd Degree Misdemeanor punishable by up to 2 years of jail/probation, $5,000 fine, permanent criminal record. 

10. Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer

Police officers and medical personnel are afforded special protection under the law. A crime that is a simple assault on a regular citizen will be charged as an Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer, a 2nd Degree Felony. For example, a person who causes a police officer to sustain minor injuries may be facing felony aggravated assault charges. 

Possible Consequences: Punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a $25,000 fine. 

11. Aggravated Assault - Generally

If you caused, or attempted to cause someone else to sustain serious bodily injury, or used a weapon to inflict injury on another, you may be facing aggravated assault charges. For example, if you swung a beer bottle at another person, knocked someone out cold during a fight, or otherwise caused someone to be seriously injured, you will be facing more than just a Simple Assault offense. 

12. Harassment

If you have struck, shoved, kicked or had unwanted physical contact with another, you may find yourself charged with summary harassment. You may be charged with summary harassment instead of Simple Assault if there were no injuries or your conduct was not as egregious and your "typical" fight. 

Possible Summary Consequences: Approximately $450 in fines and court costs, maximum sentence of up to 90 days in jail, and criminal record that cannot be expunged for minimum period of 5 years, and possibly permanently. 

CALL NOW - DONT WAIT UNTIL YOUR CHARGES COME IN THE MAIL TO SPEAK WITH AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY

If you have had any interaction with police on St. Patrick's Day, you should immediately contact the Zuckerman Law Firm at 412-447-5580 for a free consultation. You can begin to feel better about your situation by speaking with a knowledgable criminal defense attorney who may assist you in navigating the justice system from start to finish. 

Unlawful Gun Purchase Charges Dismissed for Allegheny Co. Man with Juvenile Record

Local law enforcement charged a ZLF client with the Unlawful Sale/Transfer of a Firearm and Unsworn Falsification to Authorities in connection with an attempt to lawfully purchase a gun. The client had a prior juvenile adjudication for a 1st Degree Misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 5 years in jail. Not knowing that this was considered a conviction under PA law, he improperly answered the question wrong about whether or not he was convicted of a charge punishable by up to 1 year in jail. 

The court dismissed the charges at the preliminary hearing, concluding that the Defendant made an error on the form, and did not act knowingly with the intent to mislead a public servant. The client is now eligible to expunge his juvenile record and the records of his arrest on this case. 

If you have ever had any involvement whatsoever with the criminal justice system, you should not attempt to buy a gun or apply for an open carry permit without reviewing your own criminal history with a lawyer.