I Think I’m Being Watched on Computer by Police. What to Do?

Computer SurveillanceIn response to a congressional inquiry, mobile phone companies have been forced to disclose just how many times they’ve handed over users’ cellphone data to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. It has been estimated that cellphone companies responded to 1.3 million demands for subscribers’ information last year from law enforcement. Many of the records, such as location data, don’t require search warrants or much court oversight. Both police and cell service providers had long resisted releasing details on the scope of cellphone surveillance.

In practice, your rights to protect snooping on your computer are similar to your rights in real life. Still, knowing what, when, and how others can snoop on what you’re doing is important so you can protect your information the right way. There are a few steps you can take to limit access to others.

• Log off your email. If you check your email on a public computer, it is important to log off your online account. It will limit any snoopers that come to the portal after you.
• If you are using an employer’s computer then your employer has the right to monitor what you’re doing with it. Some employers will monitor all of your conversations on your computer, including installing a keylogger on your computer. In general, your rights don’t extend too far if you’re on an employer’s computer.

• Your personal computer is protected from police searches in the exact same way as your house and body. Police cannot search your computer without a warrant specifically stating that the computer is part of the search.

• Most web services snoop on your data and, in some instances, hand it over to authorities upon request. This means that when you sign a Terms of Service you are often giving a web service access to everything you are doing on their site. In turn, the government may file a subpoena with a web service to take a look at your files,

• Public and private posts on social networks may be used against you. If you’re doing something illegal you should not post about it in a public forum because the police may very well find it with just a little snooping.

If you believe your actions are being monitored by the government, it is important to immediately stop all activity and speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney that can protect your rights. If you would like to speak with attorneys Roger Laguna or Laura Reyes Maloney about the particulars of your case, we invite you to contact our firm and schedule a free initial consultation. We provide a free initial consultation. Contact our office by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292 for an appointment.

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Guidelines in Pennsylvania

An Overview of Pennsylvania’s Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Guidelines

Criminal SentencingLike other states, Pennsylvania has implemented mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for a wide range of criminal offenses. When in place, these measures set a floor for the fines or jail time assessed for specific crimes. A judge may not impose a penalty of less than that set forth in the statutes, regardless of age, prior criminal record or other circumstances. Technically, the judge can reject a minimum sentence as unfair, but in practice it rarely, if ever, happens. The only party with any discretion to reduce potential sanctions is the district attorney, who can opt not to ask for adherence to minimum sentencing requirements.

Though Pennsylvania enforces the death penalty, the minimum sentencing guidelines never mandate that punishment. However, for many crimes of violence, the minimum penalty is either life imprisonment or the death penalty, at the discretion of the judge.

Some of the more notable minimum sentencing requirements include:

  • Two or Three Strikes — for violations that qualify under the state laws, the penalty for conviction of a second offense is a minimum of 10 years. For a third offense, the judge has the discretion to order life imprisonment or a minimum of 25 years
  • Drug crimes — Drug crimes in drug free school zones have minimum penalties of two to four years. Drug offenses committed with firearms require life imprisonment.
  • Sex crimes — Sex offenses generally carry a minimum sentence of five years or more. Rape carries a minimum 10 year sentence and repeat convictions for a Megan’s Law offense require 25 years or life imprisonment. Failure to register as a sex offender can lead to two to seven years mandatory, based on the level of the sexual offense.

Contact the Law Firm of Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP

At the Law Firm of Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we have more than 30 years of practice experience. Contact us online or call us at 717-233-5292 to set up an appointment. There is no charge for your initial consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings or weekends upon request.

What Do I Do If I’m Under Investigation?

Police investigationIf you have knowledge that you are under active investigation by the law enforcement community then you have certain inalienable rights afforded to you by the constitution, state, and local laws. You have the rights to leave any interview, have a lawyer present, to remain silent, and to have certain privacies.

No matter if a crime has been committed or not, if a law enforcement agency has a search or arrest warrant you must comply to avoid any charges. A signed and valid warrant gives the officer the right to arrest or search as specifically detailed in the document.

If the government agency cannot produce a valid warrant then you should not give verbal or written permission to any agent to search your person or property under any circumstances. For if the officer or agency does not have sufficient evidence to search then the only way they can search if with your permission. A “search” is not to be confused with a protective “pat down” for weapons that law enforcement officers are allowed under federal rulings.

In the event of any investigation, warrant, or arrest, your first step will be to contact a lawyer to ensure you are properly protected and represented and not to speak to anyone unless directed by your hired counsel.
Contact Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP
If you would like more information on our specific practice areas within criminal defense or would like to speak with attorneys Roger Laguna or Laura Reyes Maloney about the particulars of your case, we invite you to contact our firm and schedule a free initial consultation. We provide a free initial consultation. Contact our office by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292 for an appointment.

Quota-Driven Traffic Tickets — What are Your Options?

Do Police Officers Have Traffic Ticket Quotas?

It can often seem like police officers have either quotas or incentives related to the number of traffic tickets they issue. At certain times each month, they may set up traps in high traffic areas or zones where speeding is more likely. The question, of course, is so what? If you were speeding, does it matter whether the police officer had a quota?

Under Pennsylvania law, police departments (including the state police department) are prohibited from directly or indirectly ordering or encouraging officers to issue a given number of tickets. This includes setting “numbers” as part of a performance review, as well as offering bonuses or other rewards to those officers who issue the most traffic tickets.

And Pennsylvania police officers have a somewhat checkered history when it comes to the issue of quotas. A 2002 newspaper expose showed that state troopers were required to meet the “station average,” and could be subject to discipline for failing to do so. Officers told reporters that it was routine to be granted easy overtime pay if you met or exceeded unwritten quotas.

The unfortunate reality is that it will be extremely difficult to impossible to have a traffic ticket dismissed based solely on the argument that the officer was meeting a quota. Even those officers who admitted that they were forced to meet quotas still insisted that they only gave tickets to motorists who were in violation of the law. Nonetheless, the more tickets a police officer issues, the more times he or she will have to appear in court, should you decide to challenge the citation. One of the best ways to get your ticket dismissed is to request a hearing, as the officer who issued the ticket may not show up.

Contact the Law Firm of Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP

At the Law Firm of Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we have more than 30 years of practice experience. Contact us online or call us at 717-233-5292 to set up an appointment. There is no charge for your initial consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings or weekends upon request.

Surviving Your Parole Period – PA

There has been an outcry lately about parole and probation boards being slack and letting people who should have been returned to prison fall through the cracks of the system. Part of the reason for the spotlight on the Pennsylvania Board of Parole and Probation is that Philadelphia police officer Moses Walker Jr. was slain by parolee Rafael Jones, who had violated his parole and should have been back in jail at the time.

The family of Moses Walker Jr. has filed a federal lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole. Evidently, Jones was released from prison just ten days prior to Walker’s murder. He was supposed to be monitored electronically and remain under house arrest, but that never happened. Additionally, he failed a drug test that violated his probation, but supervisors never took action. Jones shot Officer Walker to death. Walker had been walking home after his police shift at the time.

Following Conditions of Parole Is Essential to Your Freedom

If you have been released on parole, it means you are under the supervision of the Parole Board. You will have a parole officer that you regularly report to. Conditions that you must follow may include:

  • Passing any drug tests
  • No technical violations
  • Consistent payment of any restitution required
  • Maintain curfew requirements
  • Do not get arrested on any new charges
  • Consistently report to your parole officer
  • Attend any treatment programs as required
  • Work or seek work
  • Keep up child support payments if possible
  • Do not move or leave the state without obtaining permission from your parole officer

Failure to follow the conditions of your parole can result in your parole officer seeking to have you returned to prison to serve out your whole sentence. If you are arrested again for any reason, it is critical that you obtain the guidance of an attorney quickly. An attorney can focus on getting you out of custody as quickly as possible.

There are often times when a person on parole has simply made an innocent mistake. However, the parole officer and the judge may be more inclined to hear your story if it is shared by an experienced, well-respected and knowledgeable parole and criminal defense attorney.

Clear Convictions From Your Criminal Record and Seal It From Public View

Find out if it is possible for you to clear any arrests from your criminal record. Please contact the Harrisburg, PA, law firm of Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP to schedule a free case evaluation with Roger Laguna or Laura Reyes Maloney: 717-233-5292. You may also contact us online.

Surviving Your Probation Period –PA

If you have been given probation in Pennsylvania, it means that instead of being sentenced to a full jail term, you will put under the supervision of a probation officer for a specific amount of time. In most cases, probation is given only for minor crimes, first-time offenders, and juvenile offenders, and those convicted of non-violent crimes.

You may actually serve some part of the jail time, and then be placed under probation for several months on up to five years after that. Probation is essentially an opportunity to stay free, but it is no free ride out of the Pennsylvania criminal justice system.

Avoid Jail — Follow the Rules of Probation – Rigorously

Surviving your probation period means that you must follow religiously the many conditions attached to probation. If you violate even one rule of your probation, you may wind up back in jail serving out your full sentence.

Among the common general criteria for those on probation are:

  • Do not violate the law
  • Do not drink alcohol or do drugs
  • Avoid people involved in criminal activity
  • Report to your probation officer regularly as required and allow your officer to visit your home, work, or other places you frequent
  • Work or seek work
  • Do not change your address, move outside the court jurisdiction, or leave the state without the consent of your probation officer
  • Maintain support to any legal dependents if possible
  • Possible monitoring by wearing a monitoring device, like an ankle bracelet

In addition to these general requirements, your case will probably have specific conditions unique to your situation. These may include entering into treatment programs, paying fines and surcharges, attending driving school, attending AA meetings, or taking other remedial measures.

If you know that your probation officer is considering revoking your probation, it is important to obtain the guidance of an attorney who can help find an alternative that will keep you out of jail. For example, if your PO officer believes you have violated probation, he will probably be seeking the judge to revoke your probation and have you go to jail to fulfill your sentence.

Sometimes, even minor probation violations, like a traffic ticket, can result in a probation revocation, depending on the probation officer. A mistake that you unknowingly make can blow thing out of proportion. Don’t take chances with your hard-won freedom and your future. Speak with an attorney who understands the criminal justice system and who is experienced working with those involved in probation revocation cases.

Probation Attorneys on Your Side – Harrisburg, PA

There are times when an attorney can explain what really happened, and point out all the good things that you are doing to uphold your end of the probation agreement. Please contact the Harrisburg, PA, law firm of Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP to schedule a free case evaluation with Roger Laguna or Laura Reyes Maloney: (800) 255-9587 or 717-233-5292. You may also contact us online.

What To Do If a Friend or Family Member Is Arrested – Pennsylvania

If the police have taken your friend away, do not panic. Remain calm and act quickly to get them the help they need as soon as possible after their arrest. Precious time may mean the difference between them being forced into making a false confession, making a mistake and admitting to something they didn’t do, getting fingerprinted, or being pulled into a lineup where they are risk for being mistaken as a criminal offender.

As well, their emotional well being can be at stake, because being in a jail is an extremely traumatic experience. The sooner you can get help to them, the better.

What can you do to help your loved one?

1. Find out exactly where your friend is being held and under whose jurisdiction.

2. Ask your friend for the exact criminal offense that has been charged against him. Be aware that if they are making a phone call to you, the police are likely recording the call. And the police are under no obligation to tell you anything, keep that in mind. Remind your friend to cooperate with the police by being polite and respectful, but to say nothing about the charges at all unless a criminal defense lawyer represents him or her.

3. Find a criminal defense attorney willing to speak with you now. Many attorneys have 24-hour answering services. Some attorneys, especially those who are building their practices, will answer their phones 24/7. Find out if the attorney gives a free initial consultation or if you need to pay for the first meeting.

4. Inform the attorney of the police station or jail where your friend or family member is being held. See if the attorney can protect your friend’s rights for that evening. Do not sign any long-term contracts that will lock you or your friend into paying for an attorney you do not even know. You may ask the lawyer to represent you at the arraignment, which may take place the next day, when charges are formally read against your loved one.

5. Ask your friend if his rights were read to him before he was questioned. By law all arrested persons must be read their Miranda Rights, which includes the right to be silent and the right to have an attorney and notification that anything they say can and will potentially be used against them in a court of law.

6. There will be a hearing, or arraignment, where the formal charges will be read against your friend. You may or may not choose to retain the attorney you originally contacted for help.

7. At this time, if your friend or family member cannot afford to retain an attorney, a public defender will be appointed to represent them. Many public defenders are wholly dedicated to their work; however, they are also extremely busy. Ask around to family and friends to find an experienced, trustworthy and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.

8. If you are a friend, and your friend cannot afford an attorney or needs help beyond that which you can provide, consider getting in touch with their parents or other family members. Even if the person has a drug or alcohol problem, the parents may be willing to bail the person out of jail.

9. Your friend is probably embarrassed and humiliated about his or her situation. Please keep the situation as confidential as you can. Call employers if need be, but do not go into detail about the situation. Use discretion.

Friend or Family Member Arrested? Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Please contact the Harrisburg, PA, law firm of Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP to schedule a free case evaluation with Roger Laguna or Laura Reyes Maloney: 717-233-5292. You may also contact us online.

When Roadside Sobriety Tests Go Wrong

We’ve all seen the humiliating, yet hysterically funny DUI videos when a suspect is happily singing along the side of the road for the cops, or otherwise chatting up the police officers who are busy gathering tons of evidence to use against that person in the soon to be splashed across the Internet DUI case.

Really, if the police pull you over for anything, it’s best to try to control yourself and have inhibitions, especially if you’ve been pulled over on suspicion of DUI. This is the absolute worst time to do anything other than provide your name while being polite to the police officers in question.

You Do Not Have to Take a Field Sobriety Test in PA

In Pennsylvania, you are not obliged to perform a field sobriety test if you are pulled over by an officer who suspects that you have been driving under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. This means that you do not have to obey the police and allow yourself to be tested on the side of the road for balance and coordination, just because they ask you to perform these tests.

Field Tests and Their Challenges to Even the Most Sober of People

Field sobriety testing (FST) allows law enforcement officials to ask you to do things that are difficult even for the most agile of people who have not been drinking. For example, there is the standing on one leg test. In this situation, you will have to balance on one leg, with the other up off the ground at least six inches. And you must count out loud for at least 30 seconds. It’s like doing Yoga on the street only in front of a police officer who is focused on finding something wrong enough to arrest you on suspicion of DUI.

If you sway while trying to balance, use your arms, or hop or put your suspended foot down instead of keeping it up in the air, the officer may take this as an indication that your ability to drive has been impaired by alcohol.

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test In addition to the one-leg-stand test, there is the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test. In this test, you will be asked to keep your head still while your eyes follow the track of an object such as a fingertip or flashlight. The police officer moves it to the left or to the right and f your eye jumps as it is moving or while it is either to the extreme right or to the extreme left, the officer takes this as an indication that you are alcohol-impaired.

Walk and Turn Test The officer asks you to take nine heel-to-toe steps like you were walking on a tightrope while counting aloud with each step. When you reach nine steps, you pivot on one foot and do another nine steps along with the counting. In this case, if you have difficulty following instructions or get one part wrong, the officer can use this as probable cause to arrest you on suspicion of DUI.

Arrested on Suspicion of DUI? Contact an Experienced DUI Defense Attorney

Please contact the Harrisburg, PA, law firm of Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP to schedule a free case evaluation with Roger Laguna or Laura Reyes Maloney: 717-233-5292. You may also contact us online.

When Does an Arrest Affect Immigration Status – PA

Any arrest or conviction in Pennsylvania and throughout the U.S. is entered into a National Crime Information Center (NCIC). The NCIC database includes criminal record information on both U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens or immigrants.

If you were arrested and fingerprinted and photographed by a law enforcement official in Pennsylvania, the record of that arrest will appear in the NCIC – even if the case was dismissed. If you are an immigrant who was arrested, your name will also appear in the database. Any immigration official who searches your name in that database will find it.

Failure to Report Arrest Can Result in Criminal Charges for Non-U.S. Citizens

The U.S. requires all immigrants who have been arrested to report that information to immigration officers, including Homeland Security officers or employees of the Department of State when asked. Failure to report an arrest, even if there was no conviction or a mistake was made, can result in an immigrant being charged with
the crime of “fraud to gain an immigration benefit.”

Whether an immigrant enters a plea that results in a case dismissal or the immigrant is actually convicted of a crime, that person’s ability to immigrate to the U.S. can be seriously affected. In the U.S. even a minor misdemeanor that carries no jail time can set a deportation action or a permanent exclusion action in motion for a non-U.S. citizen.

Retain Defense Attorney to Protect Your Rights and Your Immigration Status

This is the case even if the U.S. resident immigrant owns a business, has been living in the U.S. for decades, and has a family here. Thus, it becomes critical that anyone who is a non-U.S. citizen who has been arrested to be represented by an attorney who can provide defense against the criminal charges as well as proactively defend against harsh immigration consequences such as deportation.

In particular, crimes of “moral turpitude” and felonies are considered deportable crimes. Additionally, if you have been charged with more than one crime or if you have a past criminal record, there is a high likelihood of deportation proceedings against you.
A criminal defense attorney experienced in defending immigrants can effectively manage the complexities of defending you in your criminal defense case while proactively working to minimize any impact on your immigration status.

When Immigration and Criminal Defense Counsel Is Needed – Harrisburg, PA, Attorney

Please contact the Harrisburg, PA, law firm of Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP to schedule a free case evaluation with Roger Laguna or Laura Reyes Maloney: 717-233-5292. You may also contact us online.

An Honest Look at Child Pornography – PA

Too many law enforcement officials are trolling the Internet aiming to catch suspected child pornography users. Investigators have the capacity to track what you are doing on the Net. Big Brother is indeed looking over your shoulder and if he wants to find something, he generally will.

You need to be particularly careful about what you download from the Net and with whom you share any images, especially those involving children. For instance, recently more than 100 investigators from across 20 law enforcement organizations worked together with the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force to catch 10 men charged with suspected child pornography. The task force was able to detect child pornography users and distributors through electronic and other means, including tracking their IP (Internet Protocol) addresses.

61 Child Porn Task Forces Across the Nation

The task force that arrested these individuals is just one of 61 such task forces nationwide that target peer-to-peer file sharing online in particular. This sort of investigation is more sophisticated than the chatroom decoy investigations that were a hallmark of many previous child porn and molestation police investigations.

The fact of the matter is no one is immune from a child pornography charge. For instance, a popular music teacher and former theater director in Olympia, Washington, was arrested and tried in the media for allegedly having child porn on his home computer and work computer at the theater. Evidently, he inadvertently downloaded child pornography, but the witch hunt is on and his good name and reputation are in ruins despite the charges being dropped due to an illegal computer search.

Excessively Harsh Sentencing in Child Porn Cases

In another troubling case in West Palm Beach, Florida, a 50-year-old engineer is facing 3,000 years’ jail time for 200 videos found on his hard drive that was attached to his own laptop. In another horrific miscarriage of justice, former Arizona high school teacher Morton Berger is facing a mandatory minimum jail sentence for possession of just 20 images that he was found with in 2003. There is a miscarriage of justice when a person receives a life sentence just for looking at a forbidden image, even if the image is upsetting.

Take Immediate Action If Arrested or Under Investigation for Child Pornography Charges — Criminal Defense Lawyers in PA

Please contact the Harrisburg, PA, law firm of Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP to schedule a free case evaluation with Roger Laguna or Laura Reyes Maloney: 717-233-5292. You may also contact us online.

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