When an individual is charged with a crime in York County, the court will relentlessly follow legal procedures. You don't want to have to face these criminal charges on your own, as it can be frightening, overwhelming, and complicated. The York County Court will process the prosecution of criminal charges within its criminal division. The good news, though, is that you don't have to deal with it on your own. An experienced attorney, such as Joseph D. Lento, can help you navigate everything so that it's less stressful. In addition to helping to ease the burdens associated with being charged with a crime, Attorney Joseph D. Lento will also fight for a fair process and the best possible outcome.
What to Expect
The legal procedures for criminal cases in York County can be involved and extended depending on the severity and nature of the charges. Here's a brief overview of the legal process you can expect if facing charges.
First, though, let's make sure you understand the main classes of offense in Pennsylvania, as the process changes slightly, depending on the class of offense. Title 18, Chapter 1, Section 106 outlines the different classes.
- Summary Offense: Summary offenses generally stay at the preliminary (and district judge) level. They are typically cases that can result in up to 90 days imprisonment and are the least serious type of offense.
- Misdemeanor: A misdemeanor generally moves on to the Court of Common Pleas after the preliminary hearing with the district judge. A misdemeanor is more serious than a summary offense and can carry a sentence between one year and five years, depending on whether it's first, second, or third degree.
- Felony: A felony is the most serious class of offense. Like misdemeanors, they will move forward to the Court of Common Pleas after a preliminary hearing. Felonies carry the most severe sentences: between seven and more than ten years imprisonment, dependent on the severity of the crime (and its classification as first, second, or third degree).
Before the Hearing
Unless the crime is not serious, the case will begin with the accused offender being arrested by police, who is then taken to the Central Booking facility located in the York County Judicial Center and is housed there until the preliminary arraignment.
During the preliminary arraignment, the accused will be brought before a Magisterial District Judge (MDJ), and bail will be set. The amount of bail depends on several factors, the severity of the crime(s), previous history, etc.
The hearing will be held at the appropriate Magisterial District Judge's office—there are nineteen magisterial districts throughout York County—and this hearing will determine whether the Commonwealth has established a prima facie case demonstrating a crime has been committed and that you, the accused, were involved. The MDJ can dismiss all of the charges, some of the charges, or assign the case to the Court of Common Pleas if a prima facie case has been shown by the prosecutor. Notice of dates will also be given for the Formal Arraignment and Pretrial Conference at this time.
When you attend your preliminary hearing, you want to make sure that you have allowed enough time to get to the correct courthouse. Plan for parking, potential traffic issues, or anything else that might lead to arriving late. It is critical that you are not late for the hearing. You want to have time to meet with your attorney beforehand and review any important questions or strategies.
Following the preliminary hearing, the Formal Arraignment is conducted to provide a formal notice of charges against you, to advise you of pretrial rights such as the right to request evidence, file pretrial motions, and enter a plea. In York County, the Formal Arraignment is held most Fridays at 9 a.m. in Multipurpose rooms 5009 or 5010 at the York County Judicial Center. Obtaining an experienced lawyer can alleviate personal stress and ensure all information available will be used to support you as the defendant.
Pretrial Conferences are held once a month, and this is the time in which you appear before a judge to enter a guilty plea or to list the case for trial. Many cases are scheduled for each time slot, so plan on being present in court all morning or afternoon, depending on the pretrial conference time and date.
Afterward, a trial date is then set. As the accused, you have a right to a jury trial in every case in which you are charged with an offense that carries more than six months imprisonment. There is a two-week trial term (one week in July) each month for jury trials. You must be available to come in with one-hour notice. This is another important reason to obtain a timely and experienced defense attorney that can handle sudden changes. The pretrial conference and trials are held in the York County Judicial Center located at 45 N George St, York, PA 17401
Types of Criminal Offenses
Representing clients with criminal charges entails a great amount of patience, attention, and experience. Although York County has public defense attorneys available for defendants, a private attorney can commit attention, detail, and time to craft a solid defense in court for their clients. An experienced lawyer will be able to focus on your case rather than being overwhelmed by having an overabundance of cases. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has a vast criminal defense background in such areas as:
- Violation of Parole/Probation: Claims 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.
- Expungement/Record Sealing: After a set amount of time has elapsed, an individual may request to expunge criminal offenses from their record. The expungement route can be hard to navigate alone; however, an attorney can help to ensure the timely removal of charges, convictions, and even arrests.
- DUI: A simple return home from a night out can result in DUI charges. An expert attorney can challenge these charges and work on your behalf toward the best possible outcome.
- Traffic Offenses: Traffic offenses do not usually result in criminal charges or penalties; nonetheless, several tickets can quickly amass and cause expensive insurance premiums and even more severe penalties like the suspension of an individual's driver's license.
- White Collar Crime: When a person is indicted for methods of fraud, the circumstance is typically complex and requires an alert eye for not only investigation but also to defend against these charges.
- Sex Crimes: Sex crimes can result in significant sentencing and may require registration as a sex offender, which can result in extensive restrictions after conviction. Despite innocence, simply being accused of sex crimes can dramatically impact an individual's life without the aid of an experienced defense attorney.
- Property Crimes: Theft and vandalism are typical examples of property crimes. Charges such as these are characteristically complex to defend, and the accused should secure a capable attorney.
- Violent Crimes: Violent crimes frequently involve some degree of bodily harm carried out upon another person and can occur with or without a weapon. These crimes are prosecuted heavily and often result in harsher sentencing.
- Drug Crimes: Although medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania, illegally possessing any controlled substances can lead to criminal charges. Often, an improper method of obtaining evidence for these crimes occurs, and a sharp attorney can underscore these instances in court or beforehand in negotiations with the prosecutor.
- Domestic Violence: Cases of domestic violence can arise from complicated relationship dynamics between individuals. Having a defense attorney represent you in these complex cases will secure that your narrative is accurately presented and heard.
Expert York County Criminal Defense Attorney
When you're facing a criminal trial in York County, the consequences can be long-lasting and severe. It's important to have a lawyer 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 and getting the best result possible. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in York County, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today at 888-535-3686 or reach us online.