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Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC (412) 281-2146

    Assault and Domestic Violence

    Home Health Aid Not Guilty of Abuse

    Apr 26 2021 in Assault and Domestic Violence, Case Results, Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes

    In Allegheny County, Pittsburgh defense attorney Samir Sarna represented a home care aid, who was charged with abusing a patient. Aside from the potential harm to their career, a conviction would almost certainly result in jail time.

    Despite having the incident on video, attorney Sarna moved forward with a bench trial and argued that what happened did not warrant criminal charges. While the experience was difficult for the client, the judge agreed with attorney Sarna and issued a not guilty verdict. This spared the home care aid from a criminal conviction, jail time, and a ruined career.

    The outcome of an individual case depends on a variety of factors unique to that case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any similar or future case.

    Not Guilty Verdict in Felony Domestic Violence Trial

    Jan 13 2020 in Assault and Domestic Violence, Case Results, Criminal Defense, Notable Case Results, Violent Crimes

    Attorney Matt Ness recently assisted a young man in Adams Township when domestic violence charges put his freedom at risk.

    After a heated argument, his live-in girlfriend decided to leave and stay with her parents. Days later, the police arrived in the middle of the night and arrested him based on her claims. Her accusations were harsh and ranged in charges for felony strangulation, aggravated assault, misdemeanor unlawful restraint, making terrorist threats, and simple assault.

    This man had no prior criminal record and was now suddenly facing years in custody and a life-long stigma as an abuser of women. Luckily, we were able to secure his release and immediately started working to protect him.

    During our investigation, it became clear that the police did little to corroborate the alleged victim’s story. Attorney Ness and our team discovered there was a lot of friction between the woman and her family regarding her relationship as well as numerous inconsistencies in her version of events.

    Eventually, we located a security guard from our client’s apparent complex who interacted with her on the night in question. He recalled that nothing about their encounter raised any alarm and that she appeared uninjured.

    Despite the discrepancies and very little evidence of any injuries, the prosecutor was unwilling to offer less than a year in jail. As a result, we took the case to trial and challenged the case. By highlighting the weaknesses in both evidence and credibility, the jury only took three hours to return a not guilty verdict.

    While this was a drawn-out process, by working with an experienced attorney from the beginning, our client spared himself from years in custody and a haunting domestic violence label. In the end, the client cleared his name and was free to move on.

    The outcome of an individual case depends on a variety of factors unique to that case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any similar or future case.

    ARD For 19-Year-Old Charged with Aggravated Assault of A Police Officer

    Dec 20 2016 in Assault and Domestic Violence, Case Results, Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes

    Occasionally, when police officers are called to a scene, emotions can escalate, especially when alcohol is involved. This can lead to a very chaotic atmosphere where poor decisions are made and typically law abiding citizens become charged with life-altering crimes. If you are ever caught up in such a lamentable situation in the Pittsburgh area, it is essential that you reach out to a veteran criminal defense attorney, like those with Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, who have excellent relationships with the various police departments and can use their wide-ranging experience to help you achieve the best possible resolution.

    For example, a 19-year-old man from the Springdale area was approached by officers after having too much to drink. Allegedly, the young man failed to comply with an officer’s requests and belligerently shoved the officer. This resulted in the inebriated man being charged with aggravated assault of a police officer. When he sobered up, he quickly realized that he’d need very serious legal representation since this charge would significantly affect his permanent criminal record as well as keep him from achieving his life’s ambition of enlisting in the U.S. Navy. Therefore, in an effort to properly handle this situation, the young man decided to hire Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney Matthew Ness.

    Attorney Ness consulted with his client to go over the circumstances, and once retained, he began crafting the strongest possible defense. Ultimately, attorney Ness entered into negotiations with the district attorney and the officers involved. During these discussions, he emphasized his client’s sincere regret, and his lack of any prior criminal history. This proved effective and all the parties involved agreed the client could participate in the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) program, including a 9-moth probation period, 75 hours of community service, and the completion of a drug and alcohol evaluation. As an added benefit of completing all of the ARD requirements, the aggravated assault charge would be automatically expunged and removed from his record. By making the wise decision to consult with a highly skilled criminal defense lawyer, this matter was adeptly and promptly handled before it spiraled into a mistake that prevented him from pursuing a career in the Navy.

    The outcome of an individual case depends on a variety of factors unique to that case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any similar or future case.

    Strangulation Now a Standalone Offense

    Nov 23 2016 in Assault and Domestic Violence, Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes

    October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Pennsylvania legislatures proved that they are not only aware of the problem, but they are trying to protect victims from further abuse. On October 26, 2016, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law an act that makes strangulation its own crime. Originally introduced as House Bill 1581, the new law makes strangulation a misdemeanor offense unless additional circumstances are present, such as if the victim is a relative, spouse or romantic partner. In a domestic violence situation, prosecutors can charge strangulation as a first or second-degree felony.

    If you are facing charges for strangulation or domestic violence, contact an experienced Pittsburgh assault lawyer at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at (412) 281-2146 to learn about this new law and how you can best defend yourself in court. False accusations of domestic violence are incredibly damaging to your reputation in the community and at work. They can also weaken your relationship with your family and children. Now with this new law, you could face additional charges and potential penalties based on false allegations or rumors.

    More on HB 1581

    The act amends Title 18, Pennsylvania’s crimes and offenses, and creates Section 2718, which defines strangulation as an independent crime. You can now be charged with strangulation without being charged with any other offense. However, you can also be charged with strangulation in addition to other crimes such as assault or domestic violence. Under the new law, strangulations is defined as any individual knowingly or intentionally impeding the breathing or circulation of blood of another person by:

    • Applying pressure to the neck or throat, or
    • Blocking the nose and mouth of the person.

    Limited Defenses to the Crime

    The law specifically states that the offense does not require the victim to suffer a physical injury. The victim does not have to have bruises or any physical signs that the strangulation occurred. This was a key component of the law. Advocates for domestic abuse victims find strangulation and choking are often overlooked or cannot lead to criminal charges because they occur without leaving any marks.

    “…Choking a victim is a red flag for extreme violence,” stated Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan. “However, such cases historically were difficult to prosecute because the conduct often does not leave visible injuries, despite both the life-threatening result and the psychological harm inflicted on the victim. This legislation closes that loophole,” The Mercury News reported.

    If you have been falsely accused of strangulation, you will not be able to use a lack of physical evidence as a defense. You need a skilled Pittsburgh assault lawyer to build you a strong defense that does not rely on this stance.

    Penalties for Strangulation

    A violation of Section 2718 can result in a second-degree misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to 2 years in prison. However, strangulation will be charged as a second-degree felony if it is committed:

    • Against a family or household member,
    • By a caretaker and against a defendant individual, or
    • In conjunction with sexual violence, related to stalking, or related to human trafficking.

    A second-degree felony can result in up to 10 years of imprisonment. Additionally, prosecutors can charge strangulation as a first degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, if:

    • At the time of the incident, the offender was subject to an active protection from abuse order or a sexual violence or intimidation protection order,
    • The offender used an instrument of crime, or
    • The offender has previously been convicted of a felony offense under this law or a substantially similar offense in another jurisdiction.

    In addition to imprisonment, you will have a permanent criminal record have to pay hefty fines. Once you complete your sentence, you may be required to live within the confines of probation. Both the terms of your probation and the presence of a criminal record on a background check can make it difficult to go to school, obtain a professional license, get a good job, rent affordable housing, or even obtain loans.

    Battling Domestic Violence in Pennsylvania

    The purpose behind the new law is to provide prosecutors with another way to protect domestic abuse victims and to bring perpetrators of domestic violence to court. Studies and domestic violence organizations have found choking or strangulation is a common violent act in domestic abuse situations and is often a precursor to domestic violence homicide. Pennsylvania legislators hope that offenders can be caught and prosecuted instead of being allowed to continue or escalate a violent situation.

    Defending Against This New Offense

    If you have been charged with strangulation, assault or an act of domestic violence, contact Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC today at (412) 281-2146. Whether the charges arose from false claims or due to a misunderstanding, we are ready to take on your case and develop the strongest defense possible under the law. We understand how difficult this situation is for you and your family, which is why we offer compassionate yet aggressive legal representation. We will always fight for the best possible outcome for you.

    Daycare Employee Receives Probation After Numerous Assault Charges

    Oct 05 2016 in Assault and Domestic Violence, Case Results, Criminal Defense

    Recently, an employee at a Pittsburgh daycare facility found himself in a very difficult situation when he was charged with several criminal offenses, stemming from an incident with a child under his care. While the child was being reprimanded by the employee, the child allegedly spit in the man’s face. Impulsively, the man clenched a fist and made a motion as if he were going to strike the child. While the employee caught himself and never hit the child, the action was enough to severely frighten him. This incident led to the man being charged with numerous simple assault misdemeanors and endangering the welfare of a child. As a veteran with no prior criminal history, the man was unsure of how to handle these charges and went to our criminal defense attorneys.

    After discussing all of the case’s aspects, attorney Samir Sarna began aggressively representing his client. This involved negotiating with the prosecution on his behalf in an effort to find an alternate course of action. Due to attorney Sarna’s fervent advocacy, the prosecutor agreed to withdraw several of the most serious assault and endangerment of a child charges. With only a single second-degree misdemeanor assault charge remaining, the client agreed to serve a 12-month term of non-reporting probation. Ultimately, and due in large part to attorney Sarna’s intervention, he was pleased to learn that once this condition was met, he’d be able to move past this unfortunate incident.

    The outcome of an individual case depends on a variety of factors unique to that case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any similar or future case.