Dauphin County

Dauphin County Criminal Defense

Accused of a crime? Live in Dauphin County, PA? Your first stop will likely be the Dauphin County Court, which is located at 101 Market Street Harrisburg in Dauphin, PA.

At the Dauphin County Court and seven associated departments, there are ten Court of Common Pleas Judges and fifteen magisterial district judges. They hear criminal and civil cases, as well as cases covering a wide array of subjects (including guardianships, estates, child custody, divorce, adoption, abuse, and juvenile delinquency). If you are coming to the Court to look for records, the administrative office may be able to help you locate the records you need.

One of the departments at the Dauphin County Court—the main criminal Court, probation, or parole—will likely be able to handle your case. If applicable, the Court may also be able to provide options for those who suffer from mental illness or drug addiction.

If you're encountering the Court for the first time on a criminal charge, you'll go to the Magisterial District Court first instead of the Court of Common Pleas. There are several Magisterial District Courts throughout Dauphin County, each with its own judge.

Dauphin County Criminal Procedures

Much like other Pennsylvania counties, Dauphin County breaks down its stages of criminal cases between the Court of Common Pleas and the Magisterial District Court. One of the functions of the Magisterial District court is the review of all requests for warrants (and their authorization).

If you have been arrested, the Dauphin County Magisterial District Court will likely conduct your arraignment and set your bail. This Court will also be in charge of any preliminary hearings, reviewing and establishing probable cause, as well as the decision to dismiss your case, overseeing any plea deals, or to move it forward for pretrial conferences. If your case moves towards trial, the Magisterial District Court will bind the case over to the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas for discovery, formal arraignment, pretrial motions, and your trial. Summary offenses are often able to be resolved at the District Court, whereas misdemeanors and felonies will generally be resolved at the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, which is the court which will sentence any defendants who either receive a conviction or plead guilty.

The Dauphin County Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition Program

Under some specific circumstances, first-time offenders that face charges of some non-violent offenses can apply to the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program. For example, the offender may have agree to a constructive resolution of their case. In return, if they complete the conditions and terms of the ARD program, the prosecution of the case will be withdrawn and the offender may be able to have their offense expunged from their record. As a result, the defendant's conviction will essentially be cleared from their record, which may make it much easier for the defendant to move successfully past their offense.

This may paint a rosy picture of the ARD program, but it's important to realize that it's not for everyone. It can be difficult to qualify for this program. Even if you do, the terms and conditions you must meet in order to access the benefits of this program can be arduous, expensive, and lengthy. Before you pursue an application to your ARD program, make sure that you're speaking with a professional Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney to ensure that this option is truly the best for you and your unique situation.

Dauphin County Local Rules

In addition to Pennsylvania's typical criminal and civil procedures, Dauphin County has implemented local rules as a supplementation. In order to comply with your county's local rules, your criminal defense attorney needs to know what they are. Some of these Dauphin-specific rules include:

Continuances (Rule 106). This local rule states that all contested motions for a continuance need to be a) in writing and b) filed no later than 4:00 PM on Tuesday, the week before the case is scheduled for trial. This motion needs to include a procedural history of the case.

Night Court Duty Procedures (Rule 117): The Dauphin County Magisterial District Courts operate on a standard business hours schedule of Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM. Night Court operates on standard business hours of 5:00 PM through midnight, Monday to Thursday. The night court judge will be available from 9:00 PM through midnight on these nights.

Pretrial Proceedings (Rule 120). Neither the Clerk of Court nor any Court employee should practice as attorneys or be at all financially interested in the fees of attorneys who practice with this Court. Attorneys should not communicate with any Court judge or official regarding their proceedings before the proceedings begin, except through writing, through official pretrial proceedings, or with adequate notice and approval.

Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) in Summary Cases (Rule 301): All summary juvenile offenders and first offenders can apply for this program, with a few exceptions. These exceptions include offenses under Title 75 (Vehicles), any offenses excluded by statute, or any offenses charged by local ordinance excepting open container regulations.

Electronic Filing in Criminal Dockets (Rule 576): All relevant legal papers need to be filed using the PACFile electronic filing system. These legal papers include written motions, written answers, and any other documents or notices for which filing is required.

Professional, Strategic Defense for Criminal Proceedings in Dauphin County

If you're facing criminal charges, it may be tough to know where to begin. You may also be extremely anxious about the potential repercussions you're hearing about. If you don't play your cards right, your criminal charges could result in lifelong ramifications, including prison sentences and mind-numbingly steep fines.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento is here to handle your case to help you achieve a favorable outcome. He and his team at the Lento Law Firm have passionately defended clients in Dauphin County against a wide array of charges, including:

  • Domestic Violence: No defendant's story is the same. You need to make sure that the prosecution and Court hear yours. Joseph D. Lento can help.
  • Protection from Abuse Orders: Under Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act, the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas can issue a restraining order to help save lives or prevent abuse. If you need such an order, Joseph D. Lento can help.
  • Drug Charges: While it may be tempting to believe otherwise, drug charges, including marijuana charges, can be nuanced and complex—certainly requiring the help of a professional to help you improve your chances of success.
  • DUIs: DUI charges can wreak havoc on your entire life. Hire Joseph D. Lento to help you make sure that doesn't happen.
  • Expungements: Clearing your record of criminal convictions can be a frustrating process. With the assistance of a skilled lawyer, you can help make expungement procedures clearer and more efficient.
  • Juvenile Offenses: If you or a young family member have committed a juvenile crime, it's key to realize that the rest of your life is at stake. Joseph D. Lento can help you and your family get things back on track.
  • Property Crimes: Property crimes can carry serious consequences, whether the specific charge is vandalism, burglary, or something else. Achieving a better resolution is within your reach when you work with an experienced defense attorney.
  • Sex Crimes: Being associated with a sex crime can completely ruin your reputation. Joseph D. Lento will take your charges seriously and work to help you return to your life without harsh penalties.
  • Traffic Offenses: While it's easy to think of traffic tickets as a nuisance, they can net you serious repercussions (like a suspended license). Work with an expert attorney to retain these types of benefits.
  • A Wide Array of Other Crimes, Charges, and Offenses: Whether you're facing court proceedings for violation of probation or parole, violent crimes, white-collar crimes, firearms or weapons charges, or even offenses related to student disciplinary hearings, attorney Joseph D. Lento will be there for you to help make sure that the Court takes you seriously and you avoid major repercussions.

Dauphin County Criminal Defense Attorney | Criminal Defense Lawyer in Dauphin County

If you're beginning the process of managing your case as it moves through the Dauphin County court system, you may feel overwhelmed, confused, and alone. We get it: There's a lot to take in. You're being presented with a lot of information. It's hard to know if you're understanding everything that is happening to you—or if you even have all of the information you need to succeed.

Fortunately, you don't need to handle all of this by yourself. In fact, you shouldn't. In order to enjoy the highest chance of success as you proceed, you need to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Joseph D. Lento has years of expertise working with clients in Dauphin County. He's ready to put his experience to work for you. He's defended many clients against all of the above charges and is ready to help you with a strategic, aggressive defense.

If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges in Dauphin County, it's time to get a professional on your side. Call attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for more information, or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.