As a law enforcement officer in Philadelphia or the Philadelphia area, you are tasked with protecting the public and keeping people safe. If you have been accused of a crime, and face charges, the difficulties you face could be even more severe than others in the same position. Criticism by the media, your peers, and the possibility of a suspension or termination from employment are all very possible. This is on top of the penalties you could face for the crime of which you are accused.
Officers often face an internal investigation and an administrative hearing, on top of the process for the criminal conviction. You need an attorney who is versed in all areas of the law and can prepare a strong defense to protect your rights, the way you have protected the rights of others while a sworn officer of the law.
Experienced Philadelphia attorney Joseph D. Lento is highly experienced in the area of law enforcement criminal defense and is here to answer your questions, as well as represent you in your criminal case. You can protect your right to continue serving as a law enforcement officer.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do you represent law enforcement officers who have been charged with a crime?
Yes. We represent law enforcement officers who have been accused of and charged with a crime. We are here to represent you, whether the alleged crime is a misdemeanor or a felony, we can present a strong defense to protect and uphold your constitutional rights. You do not have to simply watch as your career is taken down simply because of allegations.
2. Do you represent law enforcement officers who have been accused of driving under the influence (DUI)?
A charge of driving under the influence (DUI) occurs when a person is intoxicated by drugs, alcohol, or another intoxicating substance and gets behind the wheel. A DUI charge can carry substantial penalties, whether a person is an officer of the law, or not. A police officer is also subject to the disciplinary rules set forth by his or her employer as well. A DUI may result in a simple sanction, a suspension, or even termination.
The penalties you face could depend greatly on the defense you present, and any criminal history you may have. A DUI does not always mean that you can no longer be a law enforcement officer, especially with the right negotiation and promise of treatment.
In any case, a DUI is a serious allegation against a Philadelphia law enforcement officer, and you need to present the strongest defense possible with an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney.
3. What other common offenses can lead to the loss of my job as a law enforcement officer?
As a law enforcement officer, you are expected to uphold the high moral values associated with your work. Because of that, even an allegation of a crime can have an incredibly detrimental effect on your life's work, and your career. Even more "minor" crimes like misdemeanors can derail an otherwise successful career in law enforcement. A felony conviction can be even more problematic with the right legal help.
Offenses that commonly result in the loss of your job, or other serious sanctions, include, but are not limited to:
- Theft Offenses: Property crimes such as vandalism, burglary, theft, and others can result in serious sanctions against you, even if that alleged crime occurred while you were off duty.
- Drug Offenses: Offenses related to drugs, such as drug trafficking, drug possession, drug paraphernalia charges, and more can result in the loss of your job, mandatory treatment and substance abuse classes, retesting or re-certification of any licenses, and more.
- Fraud: Fraud crimes necessarily involve dishonesty, and many are felonies. The law enforcement community is expected to be trustworthy, and a fraud charge on your record can be devastating to your future as a police officer.
- Sex Crimes: As a police officer, an accusation of a sex crime, on or off duty, can lead to the loss of your position. A person accused of a sex crime often feels as though they are judged guilty before they are even given a chance to prove the facts. Many officers are accused of sex crimes in relation to their jobs, such as with inmates or members of the public. In any case, a sex crime may result in the loss of your job, time spent in prison, and even the possibility of lifetime registration as a sex offender.
- Violent Offenses: Violent offenses, such as domestic abuse, child abuse, assault, and more can have a major impact on your life. Violent offenses may disqualify you from teaching, even if they occurred in your personal life, and had nothing to do with the school or a student. These crimes can range from misdemeanors to felonies, but the impact on your life can be severe either way if you do not defend your case.
Any crime, even one not listed here, can result in serious consequences to your ability to continue as a law enforcement officer. It is critical that you take action quickly to defend yourself and hire an experienced law enforcement defense attorney to protect your rights.
4. Are there offenses more specific to law enforcement officers?
Law enforcement officers are commonly put in positions of trust and power, so abuse of that trust and power can lead to criminal accusations that can be difficult to overcome if you are on your own.
Offenses that commonly affect officers on the job include, but are not limited to:
- Bribes or Gifts: A bribe occurs when a gift is intended to solicit some type of action on the part of the law enforcement officer that is not proper. One example may be a cash "gift" so that an officer will look the other way instead of making an arrest for a known crime. Other types of gifts could include discounts, coupons, other free items, etc. Other officers may collect a "protection" fee to do their job, or be accused of this behavior. All too often, offenders will make things up and accuse an ethical officer of this conduct, when they are perfectly innocent.
- Intentional False Arrest: As a law enforcement officer, if you are accused of illegal arresting or detaining a person intentionally, you can face serious criminal charges. This is not the situation where the officer honestly thought someone committed a crime but was wrong. This is when an officer knows or is reckless in not knowing, that a person is innocent of the conduct for which they are being arrested. Sometimes, an officer makes a mistake and honestly believes the arrest was justified but is accused of doing it intentionally.
- Fabrication of Evidence: An officer that fabricates evidence, or is accused of it, will find him or herself in hot water. This has very serious implications for your job, your freedom, and every case you have ever touched. You need a strong defense to protect you from these charges.
5. Do you represent law enforcement officers in excessive force cases?
All law enforcement officers are expected to use reasonable force when they interact with others. What constitutes appropriate or excessive force depends on the situation, and is often a matter of perspective. An officer may believe that a person is holding a gun, and fires when the object was actually just a toy gun. These situations quickly spiral out of control with the media, and may cause you to be sanctioned even before the case has been investigated.
Many police officers initially charged with excessive force are later acquitted. This is often because prosecutors and departments often jump the gun to punish someone to satisfy the media and the public. It may also be that the department has simply not yet realized that you were correct in your use of force.
Either way, you deserve to have your rights and your reputation as a law enforcement officer protected. These allegations should not be allowed to rob you of your career that you have worked for so hard.
6. Who will investigate my charges?
Multiple parties will investigate your case. First, fellow officers and the prosecutor will be investigating your case and the allegations if you are charged with a crime.
Your department may also have internal investigation procedures or departments (i.e. Internal Affairs) that investigate the allegations and determine whether sanctions or termination are appropriate in your case.
Your criminal defense attorney will also investigate your case independently of the other groups, in order to present the strongest case possible against the allegations you face. This investigation will help build your defense, and make sure you are protected in the best way possible.
A Philadelphia Defense Attorney At Your Side
When your career as a law enforcement officer is at risk, and you face criminal charges, you deserve to have your rights protected. Joseph D. Lento is an experienced criminal defense attorney, who handles cases both on the criminal front, and at the administrative level to protect your job. If you are facing criminal charges, contact us today at 215-535-5353.