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How to get Drug Paraphernalia Charges Dropped

One of the most common charges issued in the Pittsburgh area is drug paraphernalia charges. Many believe that an individual must be in possession of an illegal substance to be charged, but this is far from the truth. Drug paraphernalia charges relate to the various items that can be used to ingest, smoke, or shoot up drugs. This means that even if an individual has a pipe with very trace amounts of an illegal substance in it, they can still be charged and face jail time and a criminal conviction.

Drug paraphernalia charges should not be taken lightly, no matter how insurmountable they may seem. The best way to beat these chares is to contact Worgul Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC. We understand the severity of the consequences our clients are facing when charged with a drug paraphernalia offense, and we don’t want to let one mistake or misunderstanding rouin any of our client’s futures. Contact us today at 412-388-9721 for a free initial case consultation.

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What Is Drug Paraphernalia?

Equipment that is used for producing, concealing, or consuming illicit drugs is considered to be drug paraphernalia in Pennsylvania, and that includes Pittsburgh. Things that can be considered drug paraphernalia are bongs, miniature spoons, pipes, roach clips, needles, syringes, baggies, and pouches designed to carry these products. Federal law defines drug paraphernalia as “any equipment, product, or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.”

Penalties For Possessing Drug Paraphernalia

Drug paraphernalia charges in Pittsburgh are harsh and often correlate to charges associated with possession of drugs. If an individual is convicted of a drug paraphernalia charge in Pennsylvania they could be facing penalties such as:

  • A misdemeanor charge on a permanent criminal record
  • A year in jail
  • Up to $2,500 in fines

For those who have been convicted of drug-related crimes previously, their penalties may be higher. The same stands for those who sell or provide drug paraphernalia to any under-age person, or any individual that is three or more years younger than the offender. These offenses can come with penalties such as:

  • 2nd-degree misdemeanor
  • 2 years in jail
  • Up to $5,000 in fines and court fees

Any individual charged with a drug paraphernalia charge could also be prohibited from obtaining a CDL or they may have theirs revoked if they already have a CDL. A CDL is a license that takes a lot of time and effort to obtain, therefore it can be seriously life-altering if it is revoked or suspended. Others may not be able to obtain certain jobs if they have a drug paraphernalia charge on their record, which may stop them from achieving their future dreams and aspirations.

Can I Be Charged With Drug Paraphernalia If I Am Not In Possession?

The simple answer is yes. Even if an individual does not have any illicit substance on their person, they can still be charged with drug paraphernalia if they have anything that falls under the drug paraphernalia guidelines. This is to curb individuals from carrying it on their person to sell to others, or to help deter them from consuming an illegal substance in the near future. Whichever the reason, a police officer does not need an illegal substance to charge an individual with drug paraphernalia. They only need reasonable suspicion. Especially if the paraphernalia smells like an illegal substance or appears to have been used to ingest, consume, shoot, or smoke an illegal substance.

Contact An Experienced Drug Paraphernalia Lawyer Near You In Pittsburgh

A lengthy jail sentence and significant fines can accompany a drug paraphernalia charge if not handled swiftly and seriously. Alone, a charged individual will have a hard time navigating the court system and standing up for themselves in court without legal knowledge. That is why it is so important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side through the whole process.

Many of our clients at Worgul, Sarna & Ness Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC have questions about whether or not they should speak to the police, or how to handle certain paperwork, or how these types of charges can affect their lives in the long run. Our dedicated team of attorneys will answer all of these questions and more. To learn more about how we can fight for your rights, and help you navigate the muddy waters that is the Pittsburgh legal system, call us today at 412-388-9721 for a free consultation.

Do I have to get out of my car for the Police?

Are They Violating Your Rights?

Knowing your rights in this day and age is extremely important while interacting with a Pittsburg police officer or other law enforcement agent in the state of Pennsylvania. Let’s say, you forgot to turn your blinker on before switching lanes. A police officer pulls you over, and he orders you to step out of the vehicle. Is that violating your rights?

In Layman’s terms, no. You are not required to comply with all of the requests and demands made by a police officer, but you must comply when they order you to step out of the vehicle.

A police officer is not violating your rights by ordering you to step out of the vehicle, and if you refuse to follow this order you can be arrested for disobeying a lawful order.


  • Ordering you to step out of the vehicle is not a violation of your rights
  • You must comply when ordered to exit the vehicle

Policewoman starting search of man's car

Table of Contents

What is the law?
Ask or order?
Why would they ask you to step out?
Can they search me?
Should I step out?
Contact us

What is the law in Pennsylvania?

A Pennsylvania police officer only has the authority to order you out of the vehicle after they have stopped you for a traffic violation. A Pittsburgh police officer cannot stop the driver of a vehicle without probable cause or reasonable suspicion (swerving, not using your blinker, exceeding the speed limit, etc). After the officer makes the stop, they are able to order you out of the vehicle. They do not need a second reason of suspicion or probable cause to order you to exit the vehicle after they have stopped you for the initial traffic infraction.

The Supreme Court decided that a police officer has the authority to order the driver outside of the vehicle at their discretion after the Pennsylvania vs Mimms, 434 US 106 case. Harry Mimms was ordered to exit his vehicle after being stopped by two Philadelphia police officers in 1977. When Mr. Mimms exited the vehicle the officers noticed a bulge in his jacket and quickly discovered it was a .38 revolver. Mr. Mimms was charged with unlawfully carrying a firearm and a charge for the concealed deadly weapon. Mr. Mimms said that it was a violation of his rights to step out of the vehicle. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that ordering a person out of the car is, “a reasonable and minimal intrusion of his freedoms,” Essentially ruling that it is lawful for a Pennsylvania police officer to order you to exit the vehicle. In 1997, the Maryland vs Wilson, 519 US 408 gave the authority to order the passengers out of the vehicle as well.


  • If you refuse to follow this order, you will be arrested for disobeying a lawful order.
  • This is applicable to any police officer in the United States, not just those in Pittsburgh.
  • Exiting the vehicle and being patted down is not a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Ask or Order?

A police officer may say something like “Do you mind stepping out of the vehicle?” and it is legal for you to say, “No, thank you,” because they ASKED you versus ORDERING you. If they say, “I need you to step out of the vehicle.” or “Please, step out of the vehicle,” you must comply as this is a lawful order given by a police officer. It is not a question. Most of the time they will be polite and ask, and then give an order for you to exit the vehicle. Once they order you to exit the vehicle, you must comply.


  • You do not have to exit the vehicle when ASKED if you would like to step out.
  • You have to exit the vehicle when ORDERED to step out.

Why would they order you to step out of the vehicle?

There are different reasons a cop may order you to step outside of the vehicle. Many of them are for safety reasons, and some for investigative purposes. If they see one or both of your shoulders dipping as they walk up to the vehicle they may assume you are trying to hide something. A police officer will want to know what you were hiding and may order you to step out of the vehicle so they can look into your vehicle for probable cause to search. They also may order you to step out of the vehicle if you have any firearms inside. This is to keep you away from the weapons and keep the officers safe. If they suspect you of driving under the influence they might order you to step out of the vehicle to look for signs of intoxication. When there are passengers present, they might order one of you to exit the vehicle so they can hear each individual’s statement without being clouded by the other person’s memory or opinions.


  • A police officer may order you to step out of the vehicle for their safety.
  • A police officer may order you to step out of the vehicle to look for signs of intoxication.
  • A police officer may order you to step out of the vehicle to conduct their investigation properly.

Can they search my person, passengers, and vehicle?

A Pittsburgh police officer can conduct an over the clothing “pat down” of your person and passengers after you have stepped out of the vehicle. This is a safety procedure to ensure you have no weapons on your person while interacting with the police officer.

However, they cannot search:

  • Your vehicle
  • Your possessions or belongings
  • Your passengers possessions or belongings

Should you get out of the vehicle?

Yes, you should immediately comply and remove yourself from the vehicle. The officers will direct you to stand in a safe place while they ask further questions, or search your vehicle if they have probable cause or you have consented to a search. If you are arrested for not complying, or feel your rights have been violated we recommend contacting one of our attorneys immediately.


If you do not comply, you will be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. This charge can come with up to:

  • 60 days in jail
  • Fine up to $500
  • Up to 6 months probation.


Am I required to get out of the vehicle when a police officer orders me to in Pittsburgh?

Yes. You are required to exit the vehicle when ordered to do so by a police officer in Pittsburgh. If you do not, you will be arrested and charged with disobeying a lawful order.

Can a Pittsburgh police officer search the passengers of my vehicle after I exit the vehicle?<

No. A Pittsburgh police officer cannot search your vehicle immediately upon exiting. They must have reasonable cause or suspicion. IE, seeing a baggie of white powder, open container of alcohol, not notifying the officer of a visible weapon, etc.

Does exiting the vehicle and being patted down violate my 4th Amendment right?<

No. Pennsylvania vs Mimms concluded that being ordered to step out of the vehicle and being patted down is not a violation of the 4th Amendment.


Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC is a Board Certified criminal defense firm focusing on DUI defense. We understand what it takes to get the best possible outcome for those criminal charges.

In some situations, this could mean successfully negotiating a plea to a lesser charge. Other times, our experienced trial lawyers fight in the courtroom to defend the allegations against you.

A Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer gives you open and honest information. We provide a realistic potential outcome of your case. Our legal team appreciates what is at stake for you if convicted, and we relentlessly pursue the best possible resolution.

What Happens at Bail Hearings?

What Happens After I’ve Been Arrested in Pittsburgh?

Not every criminal offense is an arrestable offense. Often, the police officer will serve you a citation with a court date on it. Many times, it’s for a traffic offense like not wearing your seatbelt, and it could also be for things such as breaking town code for not having a bear-proof trash can. These are minor infractions that do not justify an arrest. Make sure you either pay the ticket or are present for your court date because ignoring the citation will result in a bench warrant for your arrest. Instead, reaching out to a criminal defense attorney, like our firm, will give you the headstart you need to have the citation dismissed in court.

Other criminal offenses will end in an arrest. In cases such as DUI, the police officer will make an arrest at the scene. In cases that need investigating they will collect evidence, and then apply for a warrant for your arrest. This means you will be transported to the local jail, and put through the booking process where they will take your fingerprints, mug shot, and DNA.

6 ways to get arrested over the holidays in Pittsburgh

Table of Contents

What happens in a bail hearing?
What are the types of bail releases?
What factors determine which bail?
Contact us

What Happens in a Bail Hearing in Pittsburgh?

After you are arrested in the city of Pittsburgh, you will be brought in front of a judge within 72 hours of being arrested. This first meeting with the judge will be called a preliminary arraignment. It is also known as a bail hearing. The judge will determine if the charge(s) against you is serious enough to deny bail. Charges pertaining to first and second-degree murder will most likely be denied bail. If you have a record of not appearing for court dates, they might deny you bail to make sure you are present at your hearing. If they believe you are not a danger to society or yourself while awaiting your court date they will grant you the ability to post bail.

Depending on the charge, you will be released on a certain type of bail. The Pittsburgh judge will also determine the dollar amount of the bail depending on the severity of the charge, and your previous criminal record. Bail is set to ensure that the accused person is present at their next court date.

This process can be long, monotonous, and very confusing especially for someone who has never been arrested before. It is imperative that you have a lawyer present at this hearing, as they are much more knowledgeable about the pre-trial process in the city of Pittsburgh. Having your lawyer present throughout the preliminary and formal arraignments will provide a clear understanding of what is happening with your case.

What Are the Types of Bail Releases?

In the state of Pennsylvania, there are FIVE different types of release on bail. At your preliminary hearing, the judge will decide if you are eligible for bail. If they deem you are eligible, they will decide which type of bail to release you on, and how high the bail will be set if the type of bail requires it. It is important to have a criminal defense attorney present throughout the whole process.

The most common form of bail release is Release on Recognizance (ROR), and it is the most ideal form of bail. This type of bail is “free.” Meaning, you don’t have to post any collateral or money in order to be released. In order to be eligible for ROR you must:

  • Show you are not a danger to the public.
  • Have strong family or community ties to the area.
  • Show you are not a “flight risk”, and will show up to further court dates and hearings.

The second form of bail release is Release on Unsecured Bail. This is a form of “free” bail where you do not have to make a payment or deposit to be released from jail. In order to be eligible for release on an Unsecured Bond, you will have to sign a release form stating that you are liable to pay a certain amount of money if you do not show up to future court dates or violate the terms of your bail.

The third form of bail also has no monetary requirement. Release on Non-Monetary Conditions is a form of bail that is “free”. With this type of bail, the court can place stipulations for you to follow. For example, they can restrict where you can and cannot travel. They can also restrict who you can and cannot come into contact with. If you break any of the conditions set by the court while your case is pending you will be in violation of your bond conditions. This means you may be arrested and returned to jail until your case comes to a conclusion.

The fourth type of bond in Pennsylvania is a surety bond called Release on Nominal Bail. The bail authority will request a small “fee” that they have determined will be enough security to ensure you are present at your next hearing. The other portion of the bail will be paid for by a source of “surety” which could be a family member but is most often a bail bondsman. It’s always wise to keep in mind that using a bail bondsman does come with terms and liability such as:

  • A bail bondsman may require collateral. Ex. Lien on private or commercial property.
  • They may revoke their surety bond at any time if they feel you may not return to court
  • If you “skip bail” or are not present for your next court date, the bail bondsman will lose their money– unless they can find you. They will then hire a bail enforcement agent to track you down and force you to pay back the money.

In Pennsylvania, Release on Monetary Condition is the fifth form of bail with a monetary condition. The amount of bail cannot be set higher than necessary to “ensure the defendant’s appearance and compliance with the conditions of the bail bond,” as set by PA Code Rule 524. If you or your loved one believes that your bail has been set too high you may ask the court to lower it, and our criminal defense attorneys are ready to assist with returning your loved one home.

What are Factors That Determine Which Bail Will Be Set?

The main factors a Pennsylvania judge looks at when determining bail are set by Pennsylvania Code Rule 523. The main Criteria for Release are:

  • Defendant’s employment status and history.
  • Type of offense
  • Length and nature of the defendant’s history in the community, and past communities.
  • The defendant’s age, character references, mental health status, reputation, and whether you have a history of substance abuse.
  • If you have previously been on bail, and if you have complied with the conditions of that bail.
  • Defendant’s criminal record.


Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC is a Board Certified criminal defense firm focusing on DUI defense. We understand what it takes to get the best possible outcome for those criminal charges.

In some situations, this could mean successfully negotiating a plea to a lesser charge. Other times, our experienced trial lawyers fight in the courtroom to defend the allegations against you.

A Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer gives you open and honest information. We provide a realistic potential outcome of your case. Our legal team appreciates what is at stake for you if convicted, and we relentlessly pursue the best possible resolution.

Pennsylvania DMV Locations

If you’re looking for all there is to know about DMV locations in Pennsylvania, then you’ve come to the right place. No matter where you are in the state, we can point you in the right direction regarding all of your DMV needs. Read on below to find out more about the DMV locations near you.

DMV locations

Table of Contents

What is the DMV?
Where are DMV locations?
What is at each location?
What can you do at the location?
PennDOT services

What is the DMV?

Throughout the country, you’ll see offices under the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV for short). We know this department to be a state-level government agency, which helps to provide driver licenses as well as administer the registration of vehicles.

However, the term “DMV” isn’t used in every state. Moreover, the traditional DMV functions aren’t handled by one agency in each state. However, the general term is widely accepted, most notably when used in the renewal and issuance of driver’s licenses.

Where are the Locations?

There are plenty of DMV locations for you to choose from, all of which are within Pennsylvania:

Harrisburg Riverfront Office Center:

1101 S. Front St., Harrisburg, PA 17104 (13th Street exit off I-83 or Cameron Street exit off I-81)

Summerdale Driver and Photo License Center:

429 N. Enola Road, Enola, PA 17025

Duncannon Photo License Center:

5 Broadway Ave., Duncannon, PA 17020

What is at Each Location?

Once you reach the DMV, you’ll find that this agency is in charge of various responsibilities, many of which have to do with cars and vehicles. As such, you can find services related to the following:

– Safety and emissions inspections
– Vehicle registration
– Issuing ID cards and driver’s licenses
– Title transfers
– Driving records
– Personalized license plates
– Bills of sale

What Can You Do There?

As mentioned above, there are plenty of things that you can get done at the DMV which generally don’t take up too much time. With a smooth licensing and registration process, most people can get in and out to continue with the rest of their day.

Pennsylvania DOT Office Services

In Pennsylvania, the PA Department of Transportation (PennDOT) serves as the umbrella agency that takes care of all things related to the DMV. Depending on the kind of task you want to take care of, you may need to look for a specific office in the state. Here are just a few tasks you can do when you visit a Pennsylvania driver license center:

– Driver’s licenses for adults and teens
– Driving permits
– State ID cards
– Commercial drivers
– Motorcycle drivers

Should you need services related to your car rather than yourself, you’ll need to visit a PennDOT service center instead. Here are just a few things that you can do at any of these offices:

– Titles
– License plates
– Vehicle registration

Look through the locations provided below to make your way to the nearest PennDOT office. However, before you place one foot out the door, be sure to check out the available services online offered by PennDOT. Through their online site, you may be able to accomplish your tasks without having to leave the house.

If you still need to go in-person, you can check to see if you can schedule an appointment ahead of time and skip the potentially long lines. Here are just a few key details you’ll need to make the process go a lot smoother:

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

Phone numbers:
Call center: (717) 412-5300
Hearing-impaired: (717) 412-5300
General mailing address:

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

1101 South Front St.
Harrisburg, PA 17104

To return license plates:

BMV Return Tag Unit
P.O. Box 68597
Harrisburg, PA 17106

Opening Times

Here are the corresponding opening times for each other DMV branches listed above:

Harrisburg Riverfront Office Center:

Driver Licensing Services:

Monday: 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Tuesday: 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Wednesday: 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Thursday: 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Friday: 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed

Photo Services Only:

Monday: 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Tuesday: 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Wednesday: 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Thursday: 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Friday: 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed

Motor Vehicle Services Only:

Monday: 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Tuesday: 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Wednesday: 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Thursday: 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Friday: 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Saturday: 7:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Sunday: Closed

Summerdale Driver and Photo License Center:

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 8:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m.
Wednesday: 8:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m.
Thursday: 8:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m.
Friday: 8:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m.
Saturday: 8:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m.
Sunday: Closed

Duncannon Photo License Center:

Monday: Closed
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: Closed
Friday: 8:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m.
Saturday: 8:30 a.m.-4:15 p.m.
Sunday: Closed


Depending on the DMV you wish to visit, you may not find much space for parking. Unfortunately, some DMV branches only offer parking in areas where the parking is quite expensive. A better option might be to opt for a two-hour parking area if you don’t plan to stay for very long.

What Is a Bench Warrant?

A bench warrant is a special form of warrant in the U.S.

The “bench” warrant is known by this name since it is officially issued by a judge who sits “on the bench” in the courtroom, according to information from the District of Columbia.

Find out what exactly a bench warrant is and what it means. Discover what will happen once the warrant is issued. Learn what the requirements and consequences are in case you receive a bench warrant in Pennsylvania and other states in the country.

Table of Contents

What is a Bench Warrant
What does it mean?
Reasons you may receive one
Bench warrant vs. arrest warrant
What happens after it is issued
What are the responsibilities
Contact us

What Is a Bench Warrant?

A bench warrant is a type of legal document that authorizes the immediate on-site arrest of a person.

What Does a Bench Warrant Mean?

This official order is issued by a judge or district magistrate to individuals who are in contempt of court, according to the government website of the County of Cumberland in Pennsylvania.

A bench warrant can be issued for criminal matters and civil matters. It is typically assigned a bond amount once it is issued by the judge.

Reasons Why a Person May Receive a Bench Warrant

A person is considered in contempt of court when he or she intentionally violates an order given by a district magistrate or judge.

These are some of the potential reasons why an individual may receive a bench warrant:

Failure to attend a scheduled court hearing or trial

    Breach of probation terms
    Failure to give child support
    Neglect to pay a court-ordered fine
    Unwillingness to perform mandatory community service
    Performance of a non-criminal offense

What Is the Difference Between a Bench Warrant and an Arrest Warrant?

A bench warrant and an arrest warrant are similar to each other because both authorize law enforcement officers to arrest the person. That’s why it’s understandable if people without a legal background occasionally mistake one for the other.

However, there is a critical difference between the two types of warrants:

– A bench warrant is under the exclusive discretion of the judge from start to end.
– On the other hand, an arrest warrant is petitioned by a law enforcement officer. Once it is approved, the judge signs the warrant to authorize the officer to arrest the person.

Take note that law enforcement files, such as video evidence and photo evidence, are necessary as proof of probable cause for arrest warrants. The judge will only approve the arrest warrant if he or she is convinced that there is substantial evidence to merit an arrest.

What Happens After a Bench Warrant Is Issued?

Learn about the bench warrant process, requirements, and consequences.


The issuance of a Pennsylvania bench warrant involves several steps. This is the typical bench warrant process in Pennsylvania, based on the County of Cumberland government website:

– A bench warrant is issued by the judge or district magistrate.
– The bench warrant is sent to the county office.
– The county office records the warrant information in a minimum of three systems.
– The systems forward your information to all law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania. In certain cases where extradition has been approved, your information is sent to all law enforcement in the nation.
– The county office gathers information about your current location, home address, workplace, etc.


You are required to take action if you receive a bench warrant in Pennsylvania and other U.S. states. Follow these steps to remedy the situation:

– Accept and read the mail notification which contains information about the bench warrant which has been issued for your arrest.
– Contact the county office which sent you the letter.
– Make arrangements with the county office or plead your case with the judge. It is possible for you to do this on your own, but it’s better to seek the professional legal services of a trustworthy lawyer to handle the process.

There is a possibility that your bench warrant will be removed if you properly comply with the arrangements.


There are serious consequences that you may experience if you ignore the Pennsylvania bench warrant and fail to take the necessary steps:

– You could be taken into custody if your bench warrant remains active.
– You may possibly be detained at a cellblock.
– You will be released from custody if you or another person can pay the bond.
– You may be presented to a judge if you are not able to pay the bond. In this case, the judge may potentially do one of the following:
– The judge will release you and set a new court date.
– The judge will continue to keep you in custody or immediately hold a hearing.

What Are the Responsibilities of a Pennsylvania Bench Warrants Division?

The Bench Warrants Division of the local government has certain duties that they need to carry out. These include the following tasks:

– Processing the bench warrants that are issued by judges and district magistrates
– Locating and arresting fugitives from justice
– Apprehending fugitives so they can face the legal charges
– Conducting investigations of crimes that are related to employees of the county government and the properties owned or leased by the county.
– Providing fingerprinting services to residents and law school students for employment purposes

How Lawyers Can Assist You With the Bench Warrant Removal Process

A bench warrant could lead to your impending arrest, so you must take the necessary steps to resolve it. You must take immediate action to prevent or minimize its negative effects on your personal and professional life.

It is possible for you to deal with the judge or county office on your own. Nevertheless, it’s a smart idea for you to request the assistance of a lawyer near you who can handle the bench warrant removal process in a more professional, efficient way.

Our Pennsylvania legal team can explain the process and discuss the consequences you may encounter. They can prepare an argument to justify your absence and plead your case to the judge.

It’s challenging to face an outstanding bench warrant. However, it’s possible for you to successfully handle the bench warrant removal process with the help and guidance of an experienced, skilled law team.

Call our local law office in Pennsylvania near you today to consult with a legal team.

What Is Megan’s Law?

Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law is the State Police’s obligation to create and maintain a sex offender registry. Such registry must include persons convicted of Certain Sexual Offenses in Pennsylvania or another jurisdiction.

Anyone who has entered a plea of guilt or has been found guilty of sexual offenses must also appear in this registry. The law applies to anyone who resides, visits, works, carries a vocation, or attends school in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania General Assembly determined that publicizing information about registered sexual offenders is necessary for public safety. Thus, anyone can access the information on registered sexual offenders through Pennsylvania’s State Police website for Megan’s Law for public protection reasons only.

Table of Contents

Megan’s Law Classifications
Tier 1 Sexual Offenses
Tier 2 Sexual Offenses
Tier 3 Sexual Offenses
Do I need a Lawyer

Megan’s Law Classifications

Classifications of sexual offenders in the State Police’s registry include three tiers. These tiers determine how long a person will remain in the sex offender registry. A sex offender’s tier classification will depend on the sexual offense they committed.

A comprehensive list of sexual offenses per tier is available on the PA Megan’s Law resource page. Here is an overview of each tier and some major offenses associated with each classification:

Tier I Sexual Offenses

These sexual offenses are for low-risk offenders, meaning a person is unlikely to commit a sex offense. Offenses classified under Tier I will require offenders to register for 15 years. Law enforcement agencies will receive notification of Tier I sexual offenders’ status.

Tier I offenses include:

– Coercion and Enticement
– Corruption of Minors
– Invasion of Privacy
– Luring a Child into a Motor Vehicle or Structure
– Misleading Domain Names on the Internet

Tier II Sexual Offenses

These sexual offenses are for people who pose a moderate risk of committing sex crimes. Tier II sexual offenses require offenders to register for 25 years. Law enforcement and child care facilities, including schools, daycares, and children’s camps, will receive notification of a person’s Tier II sex offender status.

Tier II offenses include:

– Abusive Sexual Contact
– Obscene and Other Sexual Materials and Performances
– Production of Sexually Explicit Depictions of a Minor for Importation into the U.S.
– Prostitution and Related Offenses
– Sexual Abuse of a Minor

Tier III Sexual Offenses

These sexual offenses are the most severe classification for high-potential offenders. Tier III sexual offenders will remain in the registry for life. These offenders include those with two or more sex offenses under Tier I or Tier II.

Meanwhile, sex offenses specific to Tier III include:

– Abusive Sexual Contact and Indecent Assault of a Minor (Under 13 Years Old)
– Incest
– Rape
– Kidnapping
– Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse

Requirements for Reporting Under Pennsylvania Megan’s Law

Registered sex offenders must regularly report at an approved registration site in person to verify or update their information. A person’s frequency of reporting depends on their classification as a sex offender:

– Tier I Sexual Offenders: Must register at an approved registration site in person annually
– Tier II Sexual Offenders: Must register at an approved registration site in person every six months
– Tier III Sexual Offenders: Must register at an approved registration site in person every three months

Other classifications of sexual offenders outside of the standard tiers have unique requirements for their regular appearances at an approved registration site. These classifications and their required appearances include:

– Transient Offenders: Sexual offenders with no permanent address must register at an approved registration site in person every month.
– Sexually Violent Delinquent Child: Must register at an approved registration site in person every three months.
– Sexually Violent Predator: Must register at an approved registration site in person every three months.
In addition, all sex offenders must update or provide additional information in their in-person registration at an approved registration site within three business days of changing or receiving such information. A person’s informational changes regarding the following details must comply with this requirement:
– Name: A person must report any changes to their name or alias, perhaps due to marriage.
– Residence: A registered offender must update their home address or temporary lodging location during their visitation.
– Communications: Changes to a registrant’s telephone number and online communication tools or channels, including email address and instant message address.
– Employment: A person must update their employment status to match their most recent place of work.
– Education: A person must provide information about their enrollment status as a student.
– Vehicles: A person must report the details about the motor vehicles they own or operate, including aircraft and watercraft.

Megan’s Law Penalties

Registered sexual offenders who refuse to comply with Megan’s Law’s provisions and requirements or provide inaccurate information upon registration may face extreme criminal charges, regardless of their Tier classification. The following chart details possible charges:

Tier Classification Refusal to Comply Provision of Inaccurate Information
Tier I Sexual Offender Third-degree felony Second-degree felony
Tier II Sexual Offender Second-degree felony First-degree felony
Tier III Sexual Offender Second-degree felony First-degree felony
Sexually Violent Delinquent Child Second-degree felony First-degree felony
Sexually Violent Predator Second-degree felony First-degree felony

Do I Need a Lawyer for Pennsylvania Megan’s Law?

You may need a professional sex crime defense attorney to review your case if you must register as a sex offender. Consider our legal services if you have been charged with failure to comply with Megan’s Law requirements.

Our lawyers have the resources to determine whether your situation warrants any serious felonies. We specialize in representing persons accused of sexual assault crimes in Pennsylvania. Get in touch with our legal experts today for a free consultation.

Conclusion: What Is Megan’s Law?

Megan’s Law requires that the Pennsylvania State Police maintains a sex offender registry to protect the public. It must contain information on registered sex offenders who live or visit an area to notify the public of their presence.

Sexual offenders are persons who have committed sexual crimes that fall under three different tiers. These offenses range between low- and high-risk offenses associated with sexual crimes, including invasion of privacy, abusive sexual contact, and rape.

Registered sexual offenders must periodically update their information within the registry depending on their tier classification. Failure to comply with updating informational changes or provision of inaccurate information may lead to felonies.

Consider getting legal support to review your case and avoid further crimes. Our sex crime experts can answer all your questions regarding Megan’s Law provisions. Call now for a free consultation.

Sentencing Alternatives and Conditional Dispositions in Pennsylvania

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, alternative sentences and conditional dispositions (where charges are dropped after fulfilling certain requirements) through the State Intermediate Punishment (SIP) Program, pretrial diversion programs, and other sentencing option programs help reduce recidivism and save the state money. For this reason, more and more people find alternative punishments to prison available to them. First-time offenders of non-violent crimes and perpetrators of drug-addiction related offenses usually qualify for such alternative sentences.

Often these plea deals will be offered by the prosecution and agreed upon with the defendant’s lawyer. Sometimes these sentences will require a guilty plea. In other cases, such as in the case of conditional disposition, the charges will be dismissed after a successful completion of a rehabilitation program or other requirements, such as community service or a probation period.

What Kind of Alternative Sentences Are Available?

The type of alternative sentence offered usually depends on the type and severity of the crime. Some alternative sentencing programs require a long-term probation and strict supervision, which can be as restrictive as home arrest or as lax as simple probation, while others have rather straightforward requirements.

Sometimes the defendant will be required to still make some kind of restitution for his or her crimes, usually through financial restitution or community service. Other requirements often include fines paid to the courts or to the state. Drug and alcohol related crimes, such as possession or DUI, usually require some treatment or rehabilitation component, such as classes or in serious cases, time in a addiction rehabilitation facility.

Many lesser crimes that qualify for alternative sentences do not require a formal judgment. When you successfully finish the probationary period, the charges will be deferred or discharged. These offenses are much more likely to be able to be expunged, meaning you will have no criminal record.

In order to get the best available alternative sentence, an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer will be able to work with the prosecution on the most ideal deal. If you have been accused of a crime, it is important to get the support of a qualified attorney who understands all the options available to you in any particular case. If you have been arrested, it is important call the Pittsburgh criminal attorneys at Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC right away at (412) 281-2146 for a free consultation on your case. We will work tirelessly to get you the best outcome for your case and ensure your rights are respected every step of the way.

Forms of Police Misconduct

Police officers are supposed to protect the law and innocent citizens, yet more and more we see law enforcement perpetrate types of police misconduct, eroding our trust in our police forces. This is unacceptable. We all need to be able to recognize the many forms of police misconduct, in order to be able to report it and help law enforcement weed out bad, or even illegal, behaviors.

There are three broad categories of police misconduct:

  • Procedural – Police misconduct that refers to any action that violates police procedure.
  • Criminal – Misconduct referring to actions specifically against the law.
  • Constitutional – Misconduct that is any action which violates a person’s civil rights.

Often, actual misconduct can fall in more than one category. For example, a false arrest where the officer beats the suspect would be constitutional (because it violates the person’s rights without just cause) and criminal (because beating an unarmed person is an illegal assault) and possibly even procedural (because most police forces have policies in place to prevent this from happening). As you can see, the category of police misconduct matters less than the actual actions. Each is equally prohibited.

Most Common Types of Police Misconduct

When we think of police misconduct, often we associate it solely with police brutality. This is, of course, a horrible kind of misconduct, but it is only one type of behavior that could be considered an abuse of power or violation of the police officer’s position. There are many types of police misconduct. The following are the most common:

  • Brutality: We have recently seen some horrible cases related to this in the news. Police brutality refers to the use of excessive force on someone beyond what is necessary in the situation. This includes beatings and lethal force when it is not called for, but also less obvious cases of force against weak or unarmed suspects.
  • Abuse of Authority: This includes any police action that uses its position of authority to perpetrate a crime or civil rights violation. This could range from sexual abuse to forcibly coercing a confession.
  • Bias/ Racial Profiling: This would be using racial or other prejudicial attributes as the basis of an arrest, search or harassment.
  • Bribery, Kickbacks, or Extortion: A police officer should never receive extra compensation for his or her duties. On the other side of the spectrum, he or she shouldn’t turn a blind eye to a crime due to financial motivation. Any time law enforcement uses its position to take advantage of a financial opportunity they shouldn’t have, it’s misconduct.
  • Falsifying Evidence: Falsifying evidence can include planting evidence at a crime scene or making up false witness statements.
  • False Arrest: Officers should never arrest a suspect without sufficient evidence.

These are just a few ways that police misconduct manifests itself, but any abuse of the badge is considered police misconduct. While a good officer does not perpetrate these crimes, it is important to hold those accountable who do.

If you feel that you have been arrested falsely or otherwise been subject to police abuse during a criminal proceeding in Pennsylvania, your story deserves to be heard. A qualified criminal defense lawyer can use this evidence to help you during trial. You may even be able to get the charges dropped altogether. Call Pittsburgh criminal lawyers at the Worgul, Sarna & Ness, Criminal Defense Attorneys, LLC at (412) 281-2146 for a free consultation to see how we may be able to help in your case.