The Shame Factor of Getting Arrested

No matter the circumstances, getting arrested takes a toll on a person. Often times it feels as if you are alone in the process and that your family and friends are judging you. Many individuals that have been arrested struggle to find the proper support they need to get through the process. The shame factor takes over and one may find oneself retreating into a corner of depression.

If you have been arrested, you are not alone. No matter the circumstances, you are entitled to an attorney. Not only will an attorney represent you in court, he or she will give you the support and confidence you need to get through the process. In times of trouble, it is an asset to have an experienced attorney in the field that will be able to guide you to a more successful outcome.

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we are experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorneys who have extensive trial experience. We have fought for the rights of people in and around Harrisburg for more than 15 years. Our lead attorney, Roger Laguna, is a former policeman who knows what to expect from law enforcement officers and prosecutors. We are relentless in our efforts to protect the rights of people charged with serious crimes. Let us protect your constitutional rights. We provide a free initial consultation. Contact our office by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292 for an appointment.

What Rights Do I Have If I’m a Registered Sex Offender?

Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law, 42 Pa.C.S § 9799.32(1), requires the State Police to create and maintain a registry of persons who reside, or is transient, work/carry on a vocation, or attend school in the Commonwealth and who have either been convicted of, entered a plea of guilty to, or have been adjudicated delinquent of Certain Sexual Offenses in Pennsylvania or another jurisdiction.

Under Megan’s Law, the whereabouts of convicted sexual offenders are tracked and notification is given to the public of the presence of a sexual offender in their community. However, this does not give authorities the right to harass those registered on the sex offender registry. Sex offenders may be monitored and required to report changes in their living arrangements and employment, however, sex offenders are still provided basic rights under the law.

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we are experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorneys who have extensive trial experience. We have fought for the rights of people in and around Harrisburg for more than 15 years. Our lead attorney, Roger Laguna, is a former policeman who knows what to expect from law enforcement officers and prosecutors. We are relentless in our efforts to protect the rights of people charged with serious crimes. Let us protect your constitutional rights.

We provide a free initial consultation. Contact our office by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292 for an appointment.

Police Misconduct – Do You Have a Case? PA

Police brutality is a fact of life, in Pennsylvania, as well as the rest of the nation. As long as there have been police who have power over others, there has been excessive use of force. How do you know if you have experienced police misconduct or police brutality, in the course of an investigation, arrest, or while in custody of the police in Pennsylvania?

What Is Police Misconduct?

Police misconduct includes:

  • false arrest
  • malicious prosecution
  • false imprisonment
  • excessive use of force
  • failure to intervene when other officers are violating the victim’s rights
  • neglecting to get a person who is in custody or investigation the medical care that they need

Extreme examples of police excessive use of force include the Rodney King (CA) and the Abner Louima (NYC) cases. In both situations, police savagely beat the victims. With the King case, the entire event was recorded, and the pictures do not lie. In the Louima case, he was sodomized and suffered serious permanent injuries while taken into police custody for crimes he did not commit. These are both examples of excessive use of force and police brutality.

Most of the time, brutal beatings and false arrests are not as well documented as the King or Louima cases, or there is not a videographer to share eyewitness versions of the excessive use of force that the police used. Nonetheless, it is possible to file a police misconduct report. Having an attorney who will protect your rights and make sure that the law is upheld can give you the reassurance and support you need to feel comfortable moving forward with a case against those who harmed you. In many situations, depending on the harm done, you may have legal grounds to file a civil suit against the law enforcement officials who engaged in police misconduct.

Additionally, people who have been arrested or who are under investigation are generally intimidated to go forward and file a police misconduct report. They are afraid that it will impact their criminal case negatively.

Do You Have a Case?

Defense lawyers for the police will generally try to say that the officer should be immune from this charge because prosecuting the officer or finding the officer guilty of the charge will in some way inhibit the officer from enforcing the law. It must be proven that the officer went far beyond reasonable limits in violating the victim’s rights. Generally this will include injuring the victim or otherwise damaging the victim.

Additionally, civil rights claims and claims of misconduct must have the supporting evidence. It is critical that you take pictures of yourself and of the scene as soon as you can. Make sure that you write down what happened as soon as possible after the incident. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses or others involved at the time of the incident. Have them write down what happened. Get the badges of any involved police. If there is clothing or other material evidence of the abuse of force, set it aside and take pictures of it.

Ask an attorney what is the process for filing a police misconduct report with the law enforcement agency involved. In many cases, the internal affairs of the department will launch an investigation on top of your own. It is important that you work with an attorney experienced in handling civil rights and police misconduct cases.

Falsely Arrested or Harmed by the Police? Talk to Experienced Criminal Defense and Civil Rights Attorneys in Harrisburg, 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.

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.

Getting a Conviction Removed From a Criminal Record

If you’ve been convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania, the record of that conviction can follow you for the rest of your life. It’s bad enough to have suffered through the Pennsylvania criminal justice system, but having a criminal record is a gift that keeps on giving — in the worst ways.

It is, however, possible to clear your criminal record depending on the nature of your conviction or convictions and the time that has lapsed since. It is important to see if your situation may qualify for having your conviction removed from your record.

Imagine the relief at being able to seal your criminal record from the possibility of the public ever finding out about your convictions again, depending on the nature of the crime you were convicted of and how many convictions you have had in the past. An experienced criminal expungement attorney can quickly discern whether it is possible for you to obtain an expungement for some or all of your criminal record.

You may know that your criminal record of convictions may negatively impact your ability to get a job, find housing, get financial aid for college, drive or even vote.

Eligible to Clear Your Conviction from the Public Record and Public Eye?

Eligibility to clear a record of a conviction depends on a number of factors, including:

  • What were the crimes you were convicted of?
  • What was the seriousness of the crime(s) you were convicted of?
  • What was the result of the crimes you were arrested for, otherwise known as the dispositions of the crimes?
  • Was the conviction really a deferred prosecution?
  • When was the last time you were convicted or otherwise arrested or had a run-in with the law?
  • Was there a mistake in the record?

Clearing your conviction may not always restore rights and privileges that you have lost due to a criminal conviction. For example, you may not be allowed to possess guns, depending on the original conviction.

Additionally, please note that sometimes, even after an expungement, a person may find information about you via the Internet that they looked up before you were able to seal your record. If this is a vindictive person, they may share it with others.

Filing to Clear a Conviction from a Record

You may potentially be able to file a petition to clear your conviction record depending on where the crime was committed or where the court case was heard. There are situations in which your arrest took place in one location, your citation in another and a warrant of the charges in yet another law enforcement agency jurisdiction. You must contact all of these agencies in order to clear your criminal record. They often do not communicate with one another.

To clear or expunge a conviction, you must provide documents showing:

  • Conviction date, acquittal or proof of discharge
  • When the sentence requirements were fulfilled
  • Law that was allegedly broken

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.

Crime & Arrests Statistics and Comparisons for Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, & U.S.

The violent crime rate in Harrisburg, PA, is 14.23 per 1,000 residents, compared to 3.55 per 1,000 residents across the entire state and a 3.9 national median. Property crime rates reveal that Harrisburg has a 52.02 property crime rate versus a 22.22 crime rate across all of Pennsylvania and a 29.1 national median rate per 1,000 people.*

It is clear that in Harrisburg and surrounding areas, including parts of Dauphin County, the police may be more focused on finding suspects when potentially there are none just because Harrisburg has a bad reputation for violent crime.

Drug Arrests & Alcohol-Related Driving Arrests Analysis: 1980–Present

It appears that drug arrests and arrests for driving while under the influence have risen at a significant rate since 1980 throughout the state of Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency,**in 1980 the number of drug abuse offenses reported was 13,432, with 117 arrests per 100,000 people.

In 2000, the number of arrests rose to nearly 40,000, with 401 arrests reported per 100,000 people. Finally, in the latest year for which statistics are available — 2009 — reported offenses rose to 52,565 with an arrest rate of 437 per 100,000 people.

In 1980, there were 19,300 arrests in Pennsylvania for driving under the influence, with 163 per 100,000 people arrested. In 2000, over 41,000 people were arrested for alcohol-related driving offenses, meaning an arrest rate of 342 per 100,000. In 2009, the arrest rate rose to 426 per 100,000 people.

Additionally, violent crimes in Pennsylvania appear to be going up when compared to violent crimes across the U.S. For instance, from 1980 to 2009, violent crimes in the U.S. per 100,000 people have gone down in most categories, including murder, rape and robbery, while these same categories of crime have all risen proportionately per 100,000 people in Pennsylvania.

Arrested for a Criminal Offense? 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.

*http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/pa/harrisburg/rycroft-dr/#crime

**http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/statistics/5393/crime_statistics/494652

Getting Arrests Removed From a Criminal Record – PA

What exactly is a criminal record? A criminal record is a record of any time that you have ever been arrested and fingerprinted. Even if you were arrested at age 18 and you are now 54, your criminal record may still be listed in the criminal justice system.

The criminal justice system keeps this information on file, even if you were never convicted of a crime and even if the case was dismissed.

What’s the problem with a criminal record?

The trouble with a Pennsylvania criminal record is that it is public and can be easily found. For example, for a small fee, there are online companies that will provide information about whether you have ever been arrested to anyone, from a potential employer to a bank loan officer to a romantic interest or a friend, or someone who is hoping to hurt you by digging up “dirt” against you.

It is possible to clean up a criminal record. Cleaning up a criminal record is also called expunging the record. This means that any arrest records, including police documents and court records, are removed from the possibility of public inspection across all state agencies that have a record of your arrest.

In Pennsylvania and most other states, you can get arrests removed from a criminal record. It is generally possible to expunge the record if:

  • The charge against you was dismissed
  • The charge against you resulted in probation and not a criminal decision against you
  • The charge against you was not prosecuted by the Pennsylvania state attorney
  • Your case was postponed indefinitely
  • Your case was compromised
  • You were found not guilty in court

Other reasons to review your criminal record include that mistakes may have been made and the record may not be accurate. If the crime committed occurred when you were a juvenile, your record should be sealed. However, if due to bureaucratic error it is still circulating in the criminal justice system, any potential employers can find it.

Also, a record may have information that is not complete. For example, you may have been arrested, but the record may not specify what happened, even though the case was dismissed. Someone reading the record may assume the worst — that you were convicted and are guilty. The expungement process is complicated, and you need to know who to contact and how to complete the paperwork involved in getting arrests removed from public view. There is often a waiting period between the time of your arrest and the time you can have the record sealed.

Clear 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.

Jailhouse Lawyer Success Stories – PA

Jailhouse lawyers represent themselves and other people who are in prison after they have been tried, convicted, and sentenced. Once you are locked up behind bars, you no longer have the right to a free defense attorney or public defender provided by the state. Most jailhouse lawyers are free.

Jailhouse lawyers, for the most part are inmates who practice the law – primarily criminal defense, for obvious reasons – for themselves and for others in difficult predicaments. Shon R. Hopwood, is one such jailhouse attorney, now a free man. He was convicted of five robberies in rural Nebraska back in the nineties, sentenced to more than a decade in federal prison.

Studying Law in the Prison Library Paid Off

Hopwood focused much of his prison time in the prison law library. Interestingly, he has been far more effective as a jailhouse attorney than as a bank robber. In fact, he is most well known for successfully petitioning the Supreme Court to hear an appeal for John Fellers, a fellow inmate in prison.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. This was one of just eight petitions, of over 7,000 filed by prisoners that same year. The Court thankfully ruled wholly in Fellers’ favor! Shon Hopwood has written a book about it, called Law Man.

Supreme Court Hears Case

Hopwood typed up the first Petition for Certiorari, as it is called, or request for the Court to hear the case, on a jail typewriter. Seth P. Waxman, former U.S. solicitor general who has argued some 50 cases before the Supreme Court, said that it was one of the best “Certs” he had ever read.

In fact, Mr. Waxman agreed to take the case without payment on the condition that Shon also worked with him. The two men, solicitor general and prison inmate consulted on all aspects of the case, winning a 9-0 victory that reduced Fellers’ sentence by four years.

Meantime, Shon has been busy. He was granted a second petition that vacated a lower court’s decision and sent the case back to the courts. He has helped inmates throughout the Midwest, including Indiana, Nebraska, and Michigan; get reductions in prison time from three to 10 years.

There are many online resources that offer a guide to becoming a jailhouse lawyer, including the Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual.

If Your Juvenile Child Has Been Arrested — Experienced Juvenile 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.

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