Federal Weapons Charges

If you are charged with a federal weapons offense, you want an experienced lawyer to protect your constitutional rights. The penalties for violating federal weapons laws can be severe. Even though the federal sentencing guidelines are no longer mandatory, they are still used by many judges as a baseline for establishing prison terms and other sanctions. When you are charged with a federal weapons crime, the judge will likely consider a variety of factors when issuing a sentence, including:

• Whether you have a criminal history
• How many victims were affected by your crime
• The seriousness of the crime
• In a weapons charge, the type and number of weapons used

Types of Federal Weapons Crimes

Federal statutes provide for prosecution for a wide range of firearms and weapons offenses, including the possession or sale of an unlicensed or illegal gun, firearm or other weapon. You can also be charged simply for being in possession of a weapon, if you are a convicted felon.

Federal law also provides additional penalties if you commit other crimes while using a firearm. These include drug offenses, such as sale or trafficking, as well as armed robbery and assault or battery.

Taking Steps to Protect Your Rights

The first thing you want to do if you have been arrested for violating a federal weapons law is contact an attorney. You will be entitled to a phone call when taken into custody. Use that call to contact your lawyer and request that they come to the police station.

Once you have been taken into custody, you want to exercise all your constitutional rights. You have the right to remain silent—exercise it. Don’t fool yourself into believing that you can explain the offense away. Though you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, law enforcement officers will spend more time and energy looking for evidence of your guilt than looking for ways to prove your innocence.

If the police or federal investigators show up at your door, wanting to talk with you, you don’t have to let them in unless they have a valid search warrant. Even if they show you a warrant, you can request that your attorney be present and review the warrant. Don’t let them in your house for any reason without a warrant. If they see evidence that they can reasonably argue gave them probable cause to suspect any type of criminal activity, they can search your home without a warrant.

Contact Our Office

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To arrange a private meeting with an experienced Pennsylvania federal weapons crime defense attorney, contact us online or call our office at 717-233-5292. Se habla Espãnol.

Possession of a Controlled Substance in Pennsylvania

Adolescents often seem to have a magnet for trouble. Whether it’s peer pressure or sowing wild oats, a prank that got out of hand or just juvenile stupidity, teenagers can make a single mistake that can affect their lives for years to come. As a parent, you want your child to learn that actions have consequences, but you also want them to have a fair chance to move forward and put the past behind them.

Some juvenile offenses can only be committed by minors, and are known as “status” offenses. These include such violations as minors in possession or falsifying an ID to purchase alcohol.

Juveniles can also be charged with acts that are illegal for anyone to commit, such as:
Drug offenses, from possession or trafficking to manufacturing or cultivation
DUI or driving while intoxicated
• Violent offenses, such as assault and battery, or weapons crimes
Theft crimes, such as shoplifting or auto theft
• Vandalism or malicious destruction of property

Because the juvenile court system puts greater emphasis on rehabilitation than punishment, the penalties that minors face, if convicted, are generally less severe. A minor is less likely to face incarceration of substantial fines, and more likely to be sentenced to community service or to counseling or similar diversionary programs. Nonetheless, the ramifications can be serious and long-lasting. A minor may be disqualified from certain types of educational opportunities, or may not be allowed to work in some fields.

Juvenile offenses may be treated in a number of different ways in Pennsylvania. You may be required to attend a detention or probation hearing, an adjudication and disposition, or a direct file and transfer. There are also Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) opportunities for minors.

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, all prospective clients are entitled to a free initial consultation. Contact us by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292 to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.

Domestic Violence – Abusive Relationships

Domestic violence is not limited to marriage, and the protections of the law are available to men as well as women, and to partners in a same – sex relationship. It can take a wide range of forms, from physical violence to emotional or even economic abuse. Unfortunately, most domestic violence victims feel helpless, fearing that the law won’t protect them, that they somehow deserve the abuse, or that they would rather accept the abuse than be alone. There are ways to protect yourself—help is available.

The Nature of Domestic Abuse

Though domestic abuse is often referred to as spousal abuse, it actually applies to all situations where two people are cohabitating, whether you are in a domestic partnership or a same – sex relationship. Domestic violence generally serves one purpose—it allows the abuser to exert control over the victim. Because the ultimate goal is control, the abuser may use a variety of methods to obtain power of a victim, including beatings, threats of violence, guilt, shame and intimidation.

In every relationship, there are disagreements, right? In fact, if there are no disagreements, it may be one of the indicators that there is unhealthy control being exerted by one of the parties. But when does disagreement rise to the level of domestic abuse? Clearly, when verbal abuse escalates to physical violence, it has crossed the line. With the possible exception of self – defense, there is never a situation where physical violence between spouses or domestic partners is acceptable. Sexual abuse between partners or spouses can also be difficult to determine. However, whenever your partner forces you to engage in a sexual act against your will, or uses other threats or intimidation to coerce you into performing a sexual act, it is likely that you have been the victim of domestic abuse.

With respect to emotional or economic abuse, the signs can be even more subtle. Do you find that your spouse or partner repeatedly uses guilt, shame or humiliation to diminish your self-esteem, so that you comply with their wishes? Does your partner call you whenever you go out alone, even to the grocery store, to check where you are and when you will be home? Does your spouse take your paycheck and give you nothing or little in return, or refuse to provide you with money to meet your most basic needs? Will they only allow you to go out in public if they come along?

Noticing the early signs of domestic abuse and taking steps to stop them can often prevent the escalation that results in physical injury.

Contact Our Office

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To arrange a private meeting with an experienced Pennsylvania domestic violence attorney, contact us online or call our office at 717-233-5292. Se habla Espãnol.

Recognizing the Signs of Domestic Violence

Do you have a loved one that you think might be the victim of domestic violence or abuse? Unfortunately, in many domestic violence situations, the victims will go to great lengths to cover up the signs of abuse, fearing that they will be subject to further abuse, or that others will blame them for allowing themselves to become victims. This blog post identifies the typical warning signs of domestic violence.

How to Spot a Victim of Domestic Abuse

Though you can never be certain what happens in the privacy of someone’s home, there are behavioral traits that are common among victims of domestic violence. The violence may not necessarily be physical, but may take the form of psychological, emotional or economic control. Some of the early indications of the possibility of domestic abuse include:

• Always agreeing with anything a partner says or does
• Calling a partner or spouse on a regular basis to “check in” or report where they are and what they are doing
• Receiving frequent phone calls from partners or spouses
• Seeming afraid of or anxious to please a partner or spouse
• Making references to a partner’s possessiveness, jealousy or temper

Frequently, one of the tools that an abuser will use to exert control is to try to isolate the victim from all outside influence. If a person never seems to be available to see you, or won’t go out in public without their spouse or partner, it can be a warning sign that their partner is limiting their access to others. A particularly effective way of doing this may be to deprive the victim of money, credit cards or a vehicle, so that they can’t go anywhere and have no funds to do anything.

If the abuse is psychological, one of the first signs may be a personality change. A person who used to seem confident, but now seems tentative, may be the victim of domestic abuse. Depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and suicidal words or acts are all ways that victims respond to domestic violence.

The warning signs of physical violence may be just as difficult to see, as victims may use a variety of means to keep others from seeing the evidence. They may seem to “overdress,” wearing long sleeves in warm weather, or dark glasses inside. They may choose not to come to work, school or social functions. If they must get out, they may frequently show injuries, but always have an excuse…an accident that was entirely their fault.

Contact Our Office

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To arrange a private meeting with an experienced Pennsylvania domestic violence attorney, contact us online or call our office at 717-233-5292. Se habla Espãnol.

White Collar Crimes-What to Do If You Are Charged

A white collar crime differs dramatically from most other types of criminal offenses. Typically, the charges arise because of your access to property or funds, as a result of your position in a corporation or business. You may find yourself under investigation for fraud, or for other white collar crimes, such as embezzlement or misappropriation of funds or misuse of property, based on the allegations of others who disagree with your policies or positions, or who have something to gain from your downfall. The allegations may stem from highly subjective interpretations of complex financial transactions or from assumptions based on access to limited information. In these situations, it becomes critical to have an experienced lawyer to defend you.

Types of White Collar Crimes

White collar crimes include:

• Most types of fraud, such as bank or insurance fraud, wire or mail fraud, health care or bankruptcy fraud.
• Embezzlement, or the taking of company funds or property for personal use without permission
• Money laundering, or taking money obtained from illegal acts and making it appear to be legally obtained
• Forgery, involving the falsification of documents or the falsification of a signature to obtain goods, services or cash
• Identity theft, including taking the name, credit or other personal information of another person for private gain

Protecting Your Rights

Your first inclination when you find yourself under investigation for a white collar crime may be to try to “clear things up” with law enforcement officers or prosecutors. You may erroneously believe that all everyone needs is a clear explanation of how things work, and the problem will be resolved. The best thing you can do, however, is to immediately contact an attorney, who will then become your liaison with the outside world. Unfortunately, police and prosecutors view their role as the protectors of society. Though you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, police and prosecutors tend to look only for evidence of guilt, not for evidence of innocence.

The most important rule to remember when you have been charged with a white collar crime is that you have the right to remain silent. You don’t have to speak with police or prosecutors without having your attorney present, and even when you do, you can refuse to answer their questions.

Contact Our Office

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To arrange a private meeting with an experienced Pennsylvania white collar crime attorney, contact us online or call our office at 717-233-5292. Se habla Espãnol.

What is Domestic Violence?

In today’s society, though we seem to have a greater awareness of the existence of domestic violence, it still remains largely hidden from public view. Often, the victims go to great lengths to mask any evidence of domestic violence, for fear that they won’t get the protection they need, or that they will be left alone to fend for themselves. Domestic violence takes many shapes and forms, including far more than physical abuse. This blog post provides a general overview of what constitutes domestic violence.

The Many Faces of Domestic Violence or Abuse

At its most fundamental level, domestic violence or abuse includes a broad range of acts perpetrated by one personal against someone with whom that person has an intimate relationship, including a partner, spouse or family member. Domestic violence is generally a coercive act used by one person to exert power or control over the victim. While men or women can be victims of domestic abuse, the majority of victims are women. In a survey conducted by the National Institute of Justice, nearly 25% of women said they were raped or physically assaulted by a date, live-in partner or spouse at some point in their lifetime.

Domestic violence can take forms other than physical abuse. The abuser may engage in emotional and psychological intimidation, or may make the victim the subject of continual verbal abuse. They may also engage in stalking, phone or mail harassment, and economic control. Domestic violence has also taken the form of the destruction of property, particularly items that have significant meaning or value to the victim. The abuser may intercept phone calls in an attempt to isolate the victim from friends and family members, and may deny the victim access to wages, medication or a vehicle. The violence can also be committed against a pet of the victim.

The most common forms of domestic violence include:

Physical abuse, such as hitting, slapping, pushing, choking, punching, pulling hair or beating with any type of object. It can also include the denial of medical care, or of sleep, or forcing the victim to use drugs or alcohol.
Emotional abuse, such as isolating the victim, denying the victim access to basic necessities, withholding information from the victim, attempting to humiliate the victim (publicly or privately)
Sexual abuse, including coercing a partner to have sex against their will, rape or other forcible sexual contact
Verbal abuse, from threatening language to name-calling, blaming, and continual criticism
Economic abuse, such as denying the victim access to reasonable resources to meet economic needs

Contact Our Office

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To arrange a private meeting with an experienced Pennsylvania domestic violence attorney, contact us online or call our office at 717-233-5292. Se habla Espãnol.

Deportable Offenses

Under U.S. immigration laws, if you have temporary or permanent residency status, you can still face deportation proceedings if you are convicted of certain crimes. In some cases, when the criminal prosecution begins, the judge may also initiate deportation proceedings, and seek to have you permanently removed from the country. You have the right to fight these proceedings, but you want an experienced lawyer to protect your rights. This blog identifies the types of offenses that may lead to deportation proceedings, as well as some basic steps you should take to protect your rights.

Types of Crimes that May Lead to Deportation or Removal Proceedings

As a general rule, most minor misdemeanors or infractions will not be the basis for a deportation proceeding. Traffic violations, including drunk driving, generally do not rise to the level of offense leading to removal efforts. However, the following crimes can make you a party to a deportation proceeding:

    Drug offenses, such as possession, sale or trafficking, and manufacturing or cultivation
    • Firearms crimes, including illegal possession or sale of a weapon
    • Domestic violence
    • Sex crimes, such as rape, molestation, prostitution or solicitation, or child pornography offenses
    • Violent crimes, including assault and homicide
    • Kidnapping

Taking Steps to Protect Your Rights

When you have been charged with a criminal offense as a green card holder, your first step should be to contact an experienced attorney. You will be entitled to a phone call when taken into custody. Use that call to contact your lawyer and request that they come to the police station.

Once you have been taken into custody, you have certain constitutional rights. The police must notify you of your Miranda rights, which include the right to remain silent, and the right to have an attorney present. It is important that you exercise your right not to talk with police. Even though the American criminal justice system is based on the belief that you are innocent until proven guilty, the police will exert more energy to establish your guilt than to prove your innocence.

If you are merely under investigation and the police show up at your home, you do not have to allow them in, unless they have a valid search warrant. Don’t let them come in if they don’t have one. Anything that they see that they can reasonably argue gave them a suspicion of criminal activity will be the basis for an immediate search, and a warrant won’t be necessary.

Contact Our Office

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. To arrange a private meeting with an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney, contact us online.

Understanding the Difference between a Felony and a Misdemeanor

In Pennsylvania, as in most states, criminal offenses are either categorized as misdemeanors or as felonies. The difference between these types of crimes centers generally on the seriousness of the offense. In addition, felonies generally involve more substantial penalties than misdemeanors. Some crimes may be charged as felonies or as misdemeanors, giving prosecutors latitude based on the desired punishment.

As a general rule in Pennsylvania, misdemeanors are violations of the law that carry a penalty of less than a year in jail or prison. All other offenses are considered felonies. Felonies typically carry significantly higher fines as well.

The types of crimes that are typically charged as felonies include certain repeat offenses, as well as first time offenders who commit serious crimes. Acts that are always treated as felonies include murder or homicide, terrorist acts, kidnapping, robbery, arson and most sex crimes. Theft offenses can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors based on the value of goods or cash stolen.

Misdemeanors in Pennsylvania fall into three categories:
• Petty misdemeanors, where the sentence is less than six months in jail or a fine of $500 or less
• Ordinary misdemeanors
• High or gross misdemeanors

Some infractions punishable only by a fine, such as certain traffic offenses, are typically not considered crimes at all.
In Pennsylvania, all criminal violations are violations of statutes. This means that the legislature has enacted a specific law that makes certain conduct punishable as a criminal offense. In all instances, the legislature will define whether the criminal act is a misdemeanor or a felony, or whether the prosecutor has some leeway.

When you have been charged with a crime, or are under investigation for criminal activity, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will protect your rights in all dealings with prosecutors or police, so that you don’t say or do anything that tends to incriminate you, or that can be used against you at trial. You should also exercise your constitutional right to remain silent. Don’t give the state any additional ammunition against you. Let your attorney do your talking for you.

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.

When You Have Been Stopped for or Charged with DUI for the First Time

It can happen to just about anyone. You go out to dinner or stop at a friend’s house. You have a couple of beers or a glass or two of wine. On the way home, you get stopped by police, who ask if you have had anything to drink. When you answer honestly, they ask you to submit to field sobriety tests, or may immediately request that you take a breathalyzer or blood alcohol. If you haven’t been charged yet, what can you do? If you agree to take the test and your blood alcohol exceeds the legal limit, what are your options?

If you haven’t been arrested yet, but have just been pulled over, the first question you should ask is why the police officer made the traffic stop. Law enforcement officers must have probable cause to pull you over. You must have committed a traffic violation or the officer must have reasonable belief that you have violated the law. You don’t need to get into a debate with the officer over whether or not there was good cause to pull you over, but your attorney will want this information.

If the police officer requests a field sobriety or blood alcohol test, can you legally refuse? The answer is yes. Pennsylvania has an implied consent law, which states that anyone who operates a motor vehicle on the roadways in the state impliedly consents to chemical testing to determine blood alcohol content. Even so, you still have the right to refuse to take the test. However, the consequences of refusal can be significant. You will lose your driving privileges for a minimum of one year, and your charge will be placed in a higher tier for purposes of sentencing, which means your punishment will likely be more severe.

If you take a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test and fail, you still have rights. Don’t think that you should just plead guilty and throw yourself on the mercy of the court. Your lawyer can still examine the facts and circumstances of your arrest, to determine whether your constitutional rights were violated. If the police lacked probable cause to stop you, or failed to advise you of your rights when taking you into custody, some or all evidence obtained may be inadmissible in court. Furthermore, field sobriety and BAC tests may have been improperly conducted, or the test results may have been compromised.

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we prove a free initial consultation to every client. Contact us by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292 to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.

What to Do When You Have Been Charged with a Drug Crime

If you are under investigation for a drug offense, or have been arrested for or charged with a state or federal drug crime, you may be uncertain what you should do to protect your rights and your future. Police and prosecutors can be very aggressive in drug prosecutions. You can feel like the rules are all in favor of the state, and that the language they use is intentionally designed to confuse and intimidate you.

In Pennsylvania, you can be charged with a wide range of criminal acts involving controlled substances, including simple possession, possession with intent to sell, sale or trafficking, manufacturing or cultivation, and drug conspiracy. If you are charged under a federal law, you may risk the forfeiture of your property, if prosecutors can convince the court that you obtained the property with profits from the sale of drugs.

Here are the most important steps to follow when involved in a drug investigation or prosecution:

Hire an attorney as soon as possible—You may view the arrest as a mistake and believe that, if you just carefully explain the facts, everything will be cleared up and you can walk away. This rarely (if ever) happens. Even though you are innocent until proven guilty, police and prosecutors will be looking for anything they can to use against you. They know the law a whole lot better than you, and can easily turn what seems completely innocent into damaging evidence. An attorney will know what to do and what to say (or what not to say).
• Exercise your right to remain silent—The U.S. Constitution guarantees you the right to remain silent. You don’t have to talk to police or prosecutors if you don’t want to. Don’t try to talk your way out of trouble. In most instances, you will only make things worse.
• Don’t help the police do their job—To conduct a search or seizure, police must have probable cause, or must have a valid warrant. If the police come to your home, you do not have to let them in, unless they have a warrant. If they don’t have one, politely decline their request to come in.

At Laguna Reyes Maloney, LLP, we provide a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment, contact us by e-mail or call us at 717-233-5292. We speak Spanish and understand the impact a criminal charge can have on your efforts to become or remain a permanent citizen.

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