If you or a loved one has been charged with criminal offenses, you want to make sure that you do not have to navigate the challenges alone. When a person is charged with a crime in Lebanon County, the court will not waver in pursuing legal proceedings. An experienced attorney will be able to assist you with all of the complexities of your case. The Lebanon County Court will handle the prosecution of criminal charges within its criminal division.
Types of Criminal Offenses
Representing clients with criminal charges entails a great amount of patience, attention, and experience. Although Lebanon County has public defense attorneys available for defendants, a private attorney can commit attention, detail, and time to a solid defense in court for their clients. Having one person dedicated to your case, rather than someone with hundreds of cases often results in a better outcome. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has a vast criminal defense background in areas such as:
- Violation of Parole/Probation: Claims for terms of a probation violation can precede far worse consequences and possibly involve extended supervision from the county, even without imprisonment. A criminal defense attorney can guide a defendant through the hearing developments for these situations.
- Juvenile Offenses: Perpetrating a crime in Lebanon County can have weighty consequences for the juvenile and their families. An attorney experienced with Lebanon Juvenile Court can assist and offer some relief in a stressful time for the defendant and their family.
- Expungement/Record Sealing: Depending on the conviction or arrest, after a specific amount of time has expired, an individual may request to expunge or seal their record. Still, this process can be cumbersome and extensive. An attorney can navigate the process to petition for the removal or sealing of previous convictions and/or arrests.
- White Collar Crime: When a person is indicted for methods of fraud, the circumstance is typically complex and requires an alert eye. This will help both in your defense and in investigating the case for evidence and witnesses that can testify on your behalf. White collar crimes can impact your life in many ways.
- Sex Crimes: Being accused of sex crimes can dramatically impact an individual's life, especially without the aid of a defense attorney. Among the most heavily sentenced crimes are sex crimes. A conviction can result in incarceration and registration as a sex offender.
- Property Crimes: Theft and vandalism are typical examples of property crimes. Charges such as these are characteristically complex to defend, and the accused should procure a proficient attorney.
- Violent Crimes: Violent crimes frequently involve some degree of bodily harm exacted upon another person and can occur with or without a weapon. These crimes are prosecuted heavily and often result in harsher sentencing.
- Drug Crimes: Possession of controlled substances can lead to criminal charges in Pennsylvania. Frequently, the evidence for these crimes is improperly obtained for these crimes occurs, and an astute attorney can underscore these instances in court.
- Domestic Violence: Domestic violence cases frequently result from complex scenarios. An experienced defense attorney can ensure a defendant's account is heard in court.
- Traffic Offenses: Traffic offenses rarely result in criminal charges; however, several tickets can accumulate quickly and cause elevated insurance premiums or even revocation of one's license.
- DUI: A simple return home from a night out can result in DUI charges. An adept attorney can challenge these charges and work on your behalf toward the best possible outcome.
What to Expect
The legal proceedings for criminal cases in Lebanon County can be intricate and prolonged, and the process will vary depending on the class of your offense. Title 18, Chapter 1, Section 106 outlines the different classes of offense in Pennsylvania.
Types of Offense:
- Summary Offense: Summary offenses are cases that carry up to 90 days imprisonment and are the least serious type of offense among the three classes. They usually are completed at the preliminary (and district judge) level. These hearings, in turn, can be referred to as summary hearings, rather than preliminary hearings.
- Misdemeanor: A misdemeanor is more serious than a summary offense, but usually less serious than a felony. These crimes can carry a sentence between one year and five years, depending on whether they are categorized as first, second, or third degree. After the preliminary hearing with the district judge, most misdemeanors moves to the Court of Common Pleas.
- Felony: Felonies carry the most severe sentences of the three classes of offense. Defendants could face between seven and "more than ten" years of imprisonment, based on the severity of the crime and how it is classified — first, second, or third degree. Subsequently, felonies are the most serious class of offense. And, like misdemeanors, after a preliminary hearing, they will move to the Court of Common Pleas.
Let's take a look now at the various steps of the process.
Before the Hearing
For serious criminal offenses, the case will begin with the accused offender being arrested by police. The accused is taken to the Central Booking facility, which is located within the Lebanon County Municipal Building, and there the accused offender is detained until the preliminary arraignment.
During the preliminary arraignment, the accused will see the Magisterial District Judge, and bail will be set. There are six different magisterial district judges throughout Lebanon County. The amount for bail depends on several factors, like the severity of the crimes, previous history, if the accused is considered a danger to the community, etc.
Thereafter a date is set for the preliminary hearing in which the accused can choose to have the hearing conducted or waived. These preliminary hearings are held every Thursday at the Lebanon County Municipal Building, which is located at 400 S 8th St Lebanon, Pennsylvania 17042.
When you attend a hearing, you want to make sure that you have allowed enough time to get to the courthouse. Plan for parking, potential traffic issues, or anything else that might lead to arriving late. Parking is available to the rear of the building and on the west side of 8th Street, south of the main court. You want to have time to meet with your attorney beforehand and review any important questions or strategies.
If a hearing is conducted, evidence will be presented to substantiate the criminal act(s) the defendant is charged with. At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, the case can be dismissed if the Magisterial District Judge finds the evidence presented does not support the charges. However, if the judge finds that the evidence indeed supports the charges, then the information is forwarded to the District Attorney's office, which then sets and finalizes the charges brought against the defendant.
Next, the defendant would be formally arraigned in open court with a judge. The defendant has the right to have his or her charges presented orally in open court. Usually, on the first Tuesday of the month, cases are scheduled for Call of the List. At this proceeding, the defendant can either enter a plea, list their case for trial, or request a continuance to have their case recalled for another Call of the List date.
Subsequently, a trial date is then set. Cases are scheduled for trial and typically once per month for a one- or two-week duration. Non-jury trials can be scheduled at any time, and at these trials, the judge renders a verdict after examining testimony and evidence without a jury. If a sentence has been enforced, the defendant may file an appeal challenging either sentencing or rulings made by the court. Trials are also conducted at 400 S 8th St Lebanon, Pennsylvania, 17042.
A Lebanon County Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
When you're facing a criminal trial in Lebanon County, the ramifications can be severe and impact your life for years to come. You want an attorney who can fight by your side and bring their years of experience to work on your behalf. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm care passionately about their clients. They have many years of experience helping their clients achieve the best possible outcome. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Lebanon County, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today at 888-535-3686 or reach us online.