Frequently Asked Questions
For more information about Criminal Defense law, please view our frequently asked questions below.
Which types of Criminal Defense does your firm handle?
The experienced criminal defense lawyers in Pennsylvania at Kitay Law Offices handle every kind of criminal case: traffic/summary, misdemeanor, and felony charges. These cases include, but are not limited to:
- Fraud and Identity Theft
- Domestic Abuse and Domestic Violence
- Traffic Offenses
- Drivers License Suspension Issues (including PennDOT appeals)
- Sexual Abuse
- Possession of Drugs and Drug Paraphernalia
- Possession with Intent to Deliver Drugs
- Drug Delivery
- Probation and Parole Violations (including Gagnon hearings)
- Driving Under the Influence
- Homicide by DUI
- Person Not to Possess a Firearm
- Possession of a Firearm without a License
- Attempted Criminal Homicide
- Criminal Homicide.
We also assist clients with expungement for prior arrests, as well as Governor Pardons.
Do I need to hire an attorney if the police say they want to speak with me, but they have not arrested me?
Yes. The police are your friends – until they suspect you have committed a crime or believe you may be involved. Speaking with an attorney before you meet with the police does not mean you won’t meet with the police at some point. However, you should speak with an attorney to make an informed decision. The criminal defense attorneys in Pennsylvania at Kitay Law Offices are ready for your call at 888-KITAYLAW.
Is it true that anything you say can be used against you?
Anything you say to the police can and will be used against you. Everyone knows that, but they don’t always believe it. If the police have a enough to arrest you, they will. If the police don’t, anything that you say to them will put you at a high risk of being arrested. You must be careful at all times. Innocent people can be charged with a crime. Additionally, innocent people sometimes confess to crimes they have not committed without even knowing it. Psychologists have extensively researched this issue and it really does happen.
Bottom line, you should never speak with the police without an attorney present. The experienced criminal defense attorneys in Pennsylvania at Kitay Law Offices can help you make the decision of whether or not to speak with the police. If you have committed a crime, your criminal defense lawyer in Pennsylvania can negotiate a plea even before you speak with the police. In other cases, your attorney may work out a deal for your cooperation. If you go in alone, without an attorney, you are missing an opportunity to use the leverage you have – which is giving the police information they want from you – to your benefit.
Do I need to hire an attorney if I have been arrested or charged with a crime?
Yes. For all the reasons stated above, it is extremely important to at least meet with an attorney as soon as you are arrested or know you will be arrested. See above for more information on why you need to speak with an attorney about your charges and arrest.
What is bail and how do I make arrangements for bail?
The purpose of bail is two-fold: protection of the community and ensuring a defendant appears for all court hearings. The experienced criminal defense lawyers in Pennsylvania at Kitay Law Offices can help the district justice magistrate understand all the reasons why you are not a threat to the community, and why you are not a flight risk. Additionally, we can help you get the lowest bail possible.
What is the ARD Program?
ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) is a program put together by the District Attorney’s office in each county. It allows people who have been charged with a crime to:
- participate in a probation period
- pay costs and sometimes a fine
- have their charges dropped and the arrest expunged
Every county’s District Attorney differs as to what kind of cases will be accepted into the ARD program. Some counties have very strict requirements for the application process, including deadlines for filing the application. If you are eligible for this program, you don’t want to make a mistake that hurts your chances of acceptance.
Completing the process correctly will prevent you from having a criminal record, if you have no other convictions. Generally, misdemeanors like DUIs, Drug Possession, Theft, Retail Theft, Simple Assault, and Harassment are the common charges of ARD applicants. However, in some cases even a person charged with a felony can enter the program. You’ll have the best chance of gaining acceptance into ARD with the help of a criminal defense lawyer in Pennsylvania. The attorneys at Kitay law Offices are ready to help. You can contact us online or call us at 888-KITAYLAW.
Should I hire an attorney to represent me at a preliminary hearing at the District Justice Magistrate’s office?
You should never overlook the importance of the preliminary hearing. Surprisingly, some people even waive this hearing without speaking to an attorney first. It is your right to hire an attorney to represent you at all stages of a criminal case. It is also very important for protecting your rights.
The District Attorney’s office will present the case it has against you at the Preliminary Hearing. At that time, the police will put witnesses on the stand to testify. The preliminary hearing is a great opportunity to cross examine the Commonwealth’s witnesses, learn about the case they have against you at a very early stage, and in some cases get the case dismissed. Also, bail is often set at the preliminary hearing. For that matter, your criminal defense lawyer in Pennsylvania can help you decide whether you should waive your preliminary hearing or have it.
What is a Motion to Suppress and can I get the evidence in my case suppressed?
A Motion to Suppress is one of many types of motions an attorney can file in a criminal proceeding. Importantly, a motion to suppress is filed when evidence has been obtained in violation of a person’s fourth or fifth Amendment rights.
- The Fourth Amendment is the right against unreasonable searches and seizures.
- The Fifth Amendment is the right against self-incrimination (the right to remain silent).
The police are required to read a person their Miranda warnings before they ask any questions while a suspect is in police custody.
What are your Miranda rights? Back in 1966, the Supreme Court of the United States decided a case called Miranda v. Arizona. In this decision, the court explained the warnings or instructions the police must give when arresting a suspect. Essentially, the Miranda warnings include: You have the right to remain silent, but anything you say can and will be used against you. You have the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. If interested, you can also read the actual Miranda v. Arizona opinion.
What if the police did not read the Miranda warnings?
Even if you were not read your Miranda warnings, the police can sometimes use your statements against you. For example, this can occur if you give a statement while not already in police custody. It is important to discuss all the facts of your case with your attorney so that a decision can be made about what motions should be filed in your case.
Note that there are often very strict deadlines about filing such motions. If you hire an attorney, you want to give that lawyer enough time to investigate your case and not miss those deadlines. This is why, if you are facing criminal charges, you should immediately contact the criminal defense attorneys in Pennsylvania at Kitay Law Offices. Call us at 888-KITAYLAW or contact us online.
Will I get to find out everything the police know about my case?
Yes. The District Attorney must provide defendants and their counsel with all relevant information about their case. In particular, this obligation is called “discovery.” However, you must make a formal discovery request to obtain this information. Failure to properly and timely request discovery could delay your case or even prevent you from having the information you need to file motions that could help defend your case.
What is the difference between parole and probation?
Probation is when you are under the supervision of the county, either after serving a portion of your county prison sentence, or after being sentenced to just straight probation. Parole is when you are under the supervision of the state, after serving a portion of a state sentence.
Is there a difference between a felony and misdemeanor charge?
Yes. A felony carries a greater sentence, and also a greater offense gravity score and prior record score than a misdemeanor. A felony can also affect your ability to find work, get or keep a security clearance, and prevent you from holding certain professional licenses (like insurance agent, attorney, etc). If you are charged with a felony, it is extremely important that you speak with one of the criminal defense attorneys in Pennsylvania at Kitay Law Offices to make sure your rights are protected. A felony conviction can have drastic negative effects on your life.
What is the difference between charges being dropped and having charges expunged?
When charges are dropped, the Commonwealth has agreed not to pursue them and all that will show on your record is the arrest. You can petition the court to have the arrest expunged if the charges were dropped. An expungement is when your conviction is expunged. Except in certain juvenile cases, the right to expungement in adult cases is so narrow that is might as well not exist at all. The clearest way to get rid of a conviction is through a governor’s pardon. The experienced criminal defense attorneys in Pennsylvania at Kitay Law Offices can help you prepare the petition to request a pardon.
Can I get a finding of “not guilty” expunged?
Yes, you can expunge the arrest itself. We can assist you in clearing up these blemishes on your record.
Will my case go to trial?
You always have the right to go to trial. However, many criminal cases are resolved through plea agreements, and therefore there is no trial. Once your criminal defense lawyer in Pennsylvania reviews your case, they can decide if going to trial makes sense. The attorneys at Kitay Law Offices have the experience to review the evidence against you. They can also determine if there are any pre-trial issues that need to be addressed. For example, there might be the need for a motion to suppress evidence or statements or to help decide whether or not to go to trial. You always have the right to an “open plea” deal. You will have a sentencing hearing, where you will be given the opportunity to put on witnesses and also make a statement yourself.
Can you tell me if I am facing jail time?
Yes. In Pennsylvania the Courts use something called the “Sentencing Guidelines,” which is a set of rules about what kind of sentences are fair for each criminal offense. The Guidelines are rules which provide for a range of sentences and probationary periods for specific crimes. The Guidelines also take into consideration your prior record, including prior convictions for felony offenses you may have received if you were 16 or 17 years old. The larger your Prior Record Score, the higher the sentencing range will be under the guidelines.
Is it a requirement for judges to follow Sentencing Guidelines?
Keep in mind that the Guidelines are just that – guidelines. It is not a requirement that a judge follows the guidelines and he or she can make a sentence shorter or longer. As such, it is important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Pennsylvania help you prepare for your sentencing hearing.
If you accept a plea agreement with the District Attorneys office, then the judge must accept the terms of the offer. However, you have the right to withdraw your plea if the judge does not accept the terms of the offer. It is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney, who has a good working relationship with law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office, to help you negotiate a plea if you would rather plead guilty than go to trial. Contact Kitay Law Offices online or at 888-KITAYLAW.
Can I be deported if I am not an American citizen and I am convicted of a crime?
Yes. This is why it is important to speak with an attorney who understands both criminal defense law and immigration law. Not all crimes need to result in deportation. There are options, such as ARD, which can prevent a conviction that may lead to deportation. The criminal defense attorneys in Pennsylvania at Kitay Law Offices have experience handling criminal cases which could result in deportation. Let us help you protect your right to stay in this country. If you have been charged with a crime and you are not an American citizen, contact us online or at 888-KITAYLAW.
If my child is facing criminal charges, should I hire an attorney?
Yes. Parents often make the mistake of thinking that children cannot suffer real, life long consequences as a result of criminal behavior. However, in Pennsylvania, a juvenile over the age of 14 can receive adult charges for many crimes, and if convicted, sent to a real prison – not a detention center.
Even if not charged as an adult, Pennsylvania law allows a juvenile over the age of 16 who is adjudicated delinquent to have that adjudication count as a conviction when calculating that juvenile’s prior record score. Importantly, this comes into play if he or she ever gets in trouble as an adult. As a result, the sentence he or she may receive due to a later adult conviction is likely to be more severe.
The very last thing you should do is simply have your child agree to an interview and “tell the police the truth”. Instead, your child should first tell an experienced criminal defense attorney in Pennsylvania the truth. After that, a decision can be made about whether or not to speak with the police. Until your child has a chance to speak with an attorney, he or she should not speak with the police. The lawyers at Kitay Law Offices are ready to help and you can contact us online or at 888-KITAYLAW.
Isn’t this a time to teach my child a lesson?
You might think this is a time to teach your child a lesson. However, it is not. Your child is facing a real, actual criminal charge and this is not the time to teach him or her a lesson. The long-term effects on his or her life can be severe. It is possible to have juvenile records expunged in certain circumstances, and we can help you with that process.