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    Case Results

    Pennsylvania Weapons Charge Dropped for West Virginia Man

    Aug 02 2019 in Case Results, DUI, DUI Results, Firearms & Weapons Rights, Weapons Crimes

    When a man living in Fairmont, West Virginia found himself traveling through Pennsylvania to visit his brother, he got pulled over by law enforcement in Allegheny County under the suspicion of drunk driving. To make matters worse, the man 41-year-old had his firearm stored in the backseat of his truck, which officers noticed immediately upon stopping him.

    After asking if the individual had a permit for the weapon (he did not, as West Virginia is a Constitutional Carry State), the police ended up charging the man with carrying a concealed weapon – because once a gun is placed in a car in PA, it’s technically considered “concealed.” As such, his charges stood as follows:

    If convicted of both offenses, penalties included prison time, high fines, and more. The firearm offense was of particular concern to the West Virginia man, as he possessed what is known as a federal firearms license (FFL) that allowed him to sell, manufacture, and otherwise maintain firearms, ammunition, and sell these items. Wanting to avoid compromising this license, he reached out to Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys LLC for help.

    Attorney Matt Ness immediately got to work on the case, and entered into negotiations with the District Attorney’s office to get the client into a first-time offenders program. When that did not work, attorney Ness took the case to a stipulated non-jury, where he presented the facts to the judge and argued that the client did not have the requisite state of mind (mens rea) to commit the firearms offense.

    Normally ignorance of the law is not a defense, but the law still requires that a party intentionally conceals and carry a weapon without a permit. And given that in the client’s home state concealed carry permits were not required, he could not have known that such a permit was required in Pennsylvania. The client believed he was complying with the laws of his home state and the Federal Firearms Act.

    After hearing this argument, the judge agreed, and found the client not guilty of the felony firearms offense. While he was found guilty of the DUI, he was only sentenced to six months of non-reporting probation.

    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.

    Maryland Resident Avoids a PA Criminal Conviction

    Mar 15 2019 in Case Results, Criminal Defense, DUI, DUI Results, Marijuana Crimes

    A client of Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys recently found himself in some trouble after being stopped by law enforcement during a Bedford County music festival. Knowing this festival was occurring, law enforcement camped out on a nearby road where a bridge was out so they could pull people over and potentially investigate for drugs.

    The client encountered an officer when he drove near the inoperable bridge. The police claim he drove past the “road closed” sign, so that is why he was pulled over. During the stop, they smelled marijuana, searched the vehicle, found the pot, and eventually did a blood draw. This test revealed that marijuana was in the client’s system, so he was charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI) and possession of marijuana. Wanting to avoid the potential penalties that would stem from a conviction on these offenses – which would include jail time and a lengthy driver’s license suspension – the client reached out to Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer Matthew Ness for help.

    The client maintained that despite the officer’s claims, he did not pass the “road closed” sign. Rather, it was about 300 yards in front of where he stopped. Upon seeing a sign stating, “road closed 500 yards ahead,” he got close, did a three-point turn, and began the detour.

    Wanting to protect his client’s future, attorney Ness took this information and filed a motion to suppress. He eventually took the case to court, where he called the officer on the inconsistent claims made related to the client’s case.

    Attorney Ness supported his arguments by obtaining a copy of the Temporary Traffic Control Plan – a PennDOT-required document that indicates where all signs on a highway should go during a construction project – and comparing it to a Google Maps image of the location in question. Attorney Ness even went to the scene of his client’s stop and measured where the signs should have been. Using these maps, and the officer’s motor vehicle recording, attorney Ness cross-examined the officer’s in relation to the claims that the client drove past the posted signs.

    The judge agreed, stating that where the signs should have been matched the video. As such, the judge ruled that the stop was invalid, and that it involved an illegal seizure/a violation of the client’s Fourth Amendment rights. As a result, the client’s charges were thrown out.

    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.

    Armstrong County Man Acquitted of Rape and Other Charges

    Mar 01 2019 in Case Results, Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes

    Recently, an oil and gas heavy machine operator in Armstrong County found himself facing multiple criminal charges, including:

    With the possibility of over three decades in prison looming – in addition to sex offender registration and other penalties – the man knew he needed the help of a skilled Pittsburgh sex crimes attorney. This is what brought him to Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys.

    The client’s charge stems from a situation with a woman he met at a convenience store and developed a friendship with over the span of a period of time. While the woman did not qualify it as a friendship, this man spent time with her, having discussions about various topics – even the woman’s allegedly “boring” boyfriend.

    During one conversation, the woman revealed that she could use some extra money. The client’s wife had previously left him, and he neglected to keep up with the housework, so he invited her over to clean his house. When the day came for her to clean, she showed up with no supplies. The two chatted for a bit, indulged in some drinks, and ended up discussing different sex acts they were interested in. The two eventually began to fool around, ending up in the bedroom where the woman moved the client’s hands from her breast to her neck, asking to be choked.

    At no point in this exchange did penetration occur. After a while, the woman began to feel sick from the throat squeezing, so she went to the bathroom where she noticed bruising. Worried that her boyfriend would notice, she stopped fooling around with the client. Instead, she smoked some cigarettes, had a few drinks, washed his dishes, and went home. It was here where she got into an argument with her mother, causing her to storm out and go to an ex-boyfriend’s home – where she revealed to her ex that she was raped.

    The police got involved, obtained a search warrant for the client’s home, and eventually charged him with the above offenses. The client maintained his innocence throughout the whole process, so attorney Matthew Ness took the case to trial to prove this. The woman testified that while she did show the client her underwear and nude photos of herself, she did not consent to any sexual activity.

    The client also testified, and after a 35-minute deliberation, the jury returned and acquitted him of all charges.

    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.

    Pittsburgh Business Owner Found Not Guilty of Felony Theft

    Dec 18 2018 in Case Results, Theft Crimes

    A Pittsburgh-based business owner – whose company cleaned offices, residences, and other buildings – was recently charged with a third-degree felony for theft by unlawful taking after a Carnegie Mellon student accused him of stealing $4,500 worth of electronics during a routine end-of-the-semester cleaning at their residence. Wanting to avoid the potential prison sentence and fine that could stem from a conviction, the man reached out to Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC for help.

    The client had been contracted by the CMU student’s landlord to clean the residence so that it would be prepared for the new tenants who were set to move in shortly. When the client arrived at the home and began sorting through various piles of trash, a neighbor informed him that people were still living in the home. As such, a phone call was made, and one of the home’s residents said one of their roommates was still living there, and that everything should be put back where it was. The client obliged, stating he’d come back when everyone was fully moved out.

    A few days later, he received a call from the police, stating a tenant was accusing him of stealing $4,500 worth of various electronic devices. Law enforcement informed the man that if he returned the items, no further questions would be asked. Stating his innocence, the client refused to pay for the missing items, and he was charged with the theft.

    As attorney Matthew Ness got to work on the case, the client revealed to him that he often takes photos of apartments when he enters the units to clean them. Looking at pictures from the apartment in question, it was noted that piles of items had notes that said “trash” on them. Because of this notation, the client threw out those piles. All the while, he maintained that he did not take a tote that contained the allegedly stolen electronics.

    The case went to trial, and the client was offered a deal in which he could simply pay for the missing items. Further maintaining his innocence, he declined the offer. Facts came out during the case, and the landlord testified on the client’s behalf. After about 35 minutes, the jury returned with a verdict of not guilty. As such, the client avoided years in prison, and a hefty fine.

    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.

    Amtrak Employee Found Not Guilty of Multiple Charges in Criminal Case

    Dec 11 2018 in Case Results, Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes

    Recently, a Virginia-based Amtrak conductor found himself in some trouble after operating a passenger train that ran between Washington, D.C. and Cleveland, Ohio. During the trip, the man allegedly followed a female passenger up and down the train, cornered her, and touched her inappropriately. After ending his shift, he got off the train in Pittsburgh and went about his life.

    About a month later, the train conductor showed up for work in D.C., and was greeted by Amtrak detectives wanting to get his statement about a situation in which he was being accused of inappropriate actions by the female passenger. Not thinking much of the request, the man supplied his statement. A week later, he was fired for violations of Amtrak’s internal code. And about a week after that, he was charged with four criminal offenses:

    If he were to be found guilty of the above crimes, he would face up to 13 years in prison and 15 years of sex offender registration, so he knew he needed the help of a skilled Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney. This is what brought him to Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC.

    Attorney Matthew Ness immediately got to work on the case. The client, an immigrant who had recently obtained his full citizenship, maintained his innocence throughout the process. As such, the case went to trial.

    In preparing for court, attorney Ness was able to connect with a passenger who was on the train on the night in question. The young man communicated with the alleged victim via Facebook about the incident with the client, and traveled to Pittsburgh to testify in the case.

    After deliberating for around 45 minutes, the jury found the client not guilty of all charges. As a result, he was able to avoid the harsh statutory and collateral consequences of a conviction.

    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.