The Pennsylvania Crime Code classifies criminal offenses into three categories: summary offenses, misdemeanors, and felonies. On the spectrum of serious crimes, summary offenses are the least severe category of crime, misdemeanor crimes are moderately severe, and felonies are the most severe. In Bucks County, misdemeanors and felonies are handled drastically differently.
Anticipating what to expect when facing any kind of criminal charges in Bucks County can alleviate stress, and give you leverage in your case. For the purposes of this article, we'll provide you with insight as to what you should expect if you've acquired a misdemeanor or felony charge. For more information, or if you have questions about your specific case, contact skilled criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento today.
Misdemeanor charges are generally less serious charges than felonies that, depending on the crime, can result in up to a five-year prison sentence. Some example of common misdemeanors in Bucks County include:
- Drug possession
- Petty theft
- Criminal trespass
- Simple assault
- Disorderly conduct
- DUI offenses
- Resisting arrest etc.
Once charged with a misdemeanor crime, the records detailing the arrest will be released, and they will receive a summons in the mail to appear in court for a preliminary hearing. The Bucks County Preliminary Hearing kickstarts the criminal prosecution process all defendants will have to endure.
A preliminary hearing in Bucks County usually is scheduled within 10 days of an initial arrest, but dates may vary. At this hearing, the prosecution (the Commonwealth) will have the burden of providing evidence that is sufficient enough to put a defendant on trial. If the prosecution meets this burden of proof, a defendant will be officially charged and the case will progress to the Court of Common Pleas. If a judge concludes that there isn't enough evidence, the case will be dismissed.
For first time offenders with non-violent misdemeanors, alternative resolutions like the Bucks County ARD program may be available. Upon the completion of this program, a person can get their charges dismissed, and maintain a clean criminal record. For both a preliminary hearing and entrance into ARD, the help of an experienced attorney is highly recommended.
There is little to no leniency in the handling of felony cases in Bucks County. For example, if a person is charged with a serious felony, they may have a warrant out for their arrest, instead of a summons. They may be taken into custody and held there before they're given a chance to attend a hearing. People with felonies also are likely to have high sky high bail amounts, are likely to be issued a detainer, and other additional penalties before prosecution.
A defendant should seek the help of an attorney as soon as their felony charges are filed. The sooner an attorney can get involved, the better the results a defendant can expect to see.
Bucks County Criminal Defense Attorney
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has represented numerous clients who've acquired both misdemeanor and felony charges. He understands that every case calls for planning, strategizing, and attention to detail. If you've been charged with a crime and are uncertain about what to do next, contact Joseph D. Lento today online or give him a call at (215) 535-5353 at the earliest available opportunity for assistance.