Delaware County Criminal Defense

Delaware County Criminal Court

Court of Common Pleas. In Delaware County, the Court of Common Pleas holds jurisdiction over criminal matters that occur in the county, although it may not handle every single criminal case. The court has several departments, including Adult Probation and Parole, Pretrial/Bail Service Unit, Domestic Relations, Criminal Department, and Juvenile Court and Probation Services. It also oversees a Second Chance Court, which allows people who have been identified with substance abuse orders at the time of their arrest to voluntarily enter treatment programs. The goal of this program is to bridge the gap between the time of arrest and the first time an offender appears before a judge in the Court of Common Pleas, which can take four to six months.

Here's some practical information about the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas:

  • Address: 201 West Front Street, Media, PA 19063
  • Phone number: 610-891-4000
  • Business hours: 8:30 am to 4:30 am
  • Has jurisdiction over all cases not exclusively assigned to another court

Magisterial District Courts. In Pennsylvania, the Magisterial District Courts are the first level of judicial authority and are where most people come into contact with the judicial system for the first time. Throughout Delaware County, there are 30 Magisterial District Courts, each with its own judge. These courts handle all traffic cases and other minor criminal and civil cases involving amounts up to $12,000. It's also in the Magisterial District Courts where bail is set, and judges conduct preliminary hearings for criminal cases to determine if they should remain in the district court or be transferred to the Court of Common Pleas. As there are 30 Magisterial District Courts across the county, you should always double-check which location you are supposed to go to for your court proceeding. You can call the court directly or contact the Magisterial District Court Administrator at 610-565-6990.

Delaware County Criminal Procedures

The Court Handling the State of Your Proceeding. Like most counties, Delaware County handles criminal proceedings by dividing the process between the Court of Common Pleas and the Magisterial District Courts.

The Delaware County Magisterial District Courts handle:

  • Issuing arrest warrants
  • Preliminary arraignment
  • Determining bail
  • Preliminary hearing
  • Dismissing your case if there isn't sufficient evidence to go to trial
  • Transferring your case to the Court of Common Pleas if there is sufficient evidence to go to trial

The Delaware County Court of Common Pleas handles:

  • Formal arraignment
  • Pretrial hearings
  • Trial
  • Sentencing

ARD Program. Delaware County participates in Pennsylvania's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program, which allows first-time offenders to avoid automatically going to jail. Only certain non-violent offenses qualify for the program, and not every first-time offender may be allowed to join the program. In exchange for avoiding jail time, the offender completes the terms and conditions of the program, typically involving costs or fees and community service. Although this may seem like a good option to some first-time offenders, it's not the right choice in every situation. The costs can be high, and the community service time-consuming. Once you complete the program, there's also no guarantee your record will get expunged. You still have to petition the court for expungement. If you are a first-time offender considering the ARD program, you should consult with an experienced Delaware County defense attorney to see if it really is the best option for you.

Local Rules. Delaware County's Court of Common Pleas has adopted several local rules that supplement the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure. Your defense attorney should be well-versed in these rules, but it helps if you are aware of some of them as well:

  • Failure to appear: If a defendant fails to appear at an arraignment or pretrial conference, their bail is revoked, and the court will issue a bench warrant against them.
  • Reporting to bail agency: When a defendant is released on bond, unsecured bail, nominal bail, recognizance, or non-monetary conditions, they must be interviewed by a representative of the Bail Agency of Delaware County within 72 hours of release to arrange for an attorney if the defendant doesn't already have one.

Criminal Defense in Delaware County

Protection From Abuse Orders

In Pennsylvania, the Protection From Abuse (PFA) Act allows Delaware County authorities to issue restraining orders against people who have allegedly committed domestic abuse. These types of orders are only issued between family and household members, and they aim to protect those who have been subjected to domestic violence. But they can also put a burden on the alleged abuser, who usually must leave their home or may have to give up custody of their children. Having an attorney to help you deal with a PFA order is crucial.

Property Crimes

Property crimes include offenses such as vandalism or burglary, and they can have far-reaching consequences if you are convicted. With a defense attorney by your side, you'll be better able to defend against these charges and potentially negotiate a better resolution. Don't let a property crime implicate your job, education, or career.

Firearm/Weapon Charges

Being charged with a crime that involves a firearm or weapon can have devastating consequences. It can lead to job loss, loss of security clearance, and many other complications. Seek out a skilled attorney to defend yourself from these charges, so you don't jeopardize your future.

Marijuana Charges

It may not seem like such a big deal, but getting charged with a marijuana-related crime can still cause you trouble. You could have issues with your job, school, career, or other important opportunities in life.

Student Disciplinary Hearings

While student misconduct at colleges and universities isn't a crime, it's still a serious matter. The stakes are high for these cases, sometimes leading to expulsion. Having to start over at a new school or worse—starting a degree over—can have major financial repercussions. Not to mention it could hamper your future career before it gets started. Consult with an attorney specializing in student defense if you're facing a student misconduct issue.

Contact Us Today!

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.

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