Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

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Criminal Defense

Domestic Violence and the “Boyfriend Loophole”

Existing federal law forbids people convicted of domestic violence against a current or former spouse to buy or own a firearm.

But what if the abuse was perpetrated by an intimate partner who is not your spouse?

Lawmakers may close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” to expand protections for abuse victims.

Efforts to renew the Violence Against Women Act include a provision to prohibit firearm ownership by those convicted of abusing, assaulting or stalking a dating partner, or to those under a restraining order.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation. We handle all areas of family law and criminal defense with a special focus on domestic violence, child custody, and Protection From Abuse (PFA).

To schedule a consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Plea Deals in Criminal Cases

People facing criminal charges accept a plea agreement more than ninety percent of the time.

In exchange for a guilty plea, some of the charges may be dropped or reduced. In some cases, the deal may include a recommendation for probation rather than incarceration.

Domestic violence cases usually involve charges of assault, harassment, terroristic threats, reckless endangerment, strangulation and stalking.

Typical plea deals involving such charges may include: reducing misdemeanor charges to a summary conviction if the defendant:

  • Undergoes a substance-abuse evaluation
  • Undergoes a mental-health evaluation
  • Completes anger management or batterers-intervention classes
  • Avoids abusive contact with the victim for a period of time
  • Avoids negative police contact for a period of time

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of criminal defense with a special focus on domestic-violence defense. We successfully resolve many cases through plea deals at preliminary hearings and pretrial conferences.

For more information, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Automatic Expungements In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has led the way nationally by enacting the first major automatic expungement law.

“States should follow the approach of Pennsylvania,” according to a recent article in The New York Times, “and make expungement automatic once the legal requirements are met.”

Expungements of criminal convictions seals them from public view, removes them from databases, and neutralizes most of their legal effects.

People usually have to wait years after completing their sentences and go through an elaborate process to have their records cleared.

Interested in expunging your criminal records? Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law and criminal defense. For a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA Law: 24 Hours to Relinquish Guns

Under Pennsylvania law, a person subjected to a Final Protection From Abuse (PFA) order was given 60 days to turn over his or her firearms.

A new law speeds up the time that people have to relinquish their guns to 24 hours after they have been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic-violence crime or had a Final PFA order approved against them by a judge.

The 24-hour provision intends to close a loophole that exposed domestic-abuse victims to continued risk of violence even after obtaining a PFA order.

The new law applies even in cases of alleged stalking, harassment, and assault where guns were not involved.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong representation at PFA hearings. For more information, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Criminal Court: The Process

If your criminal case cannot be resolved at the preliminary hearing before a magistrate, it moves to the Court of Common Pleas in the county where the alleged crime occurred.

First, there will be a formal arraignment. Your attorney will enter his or her appearance and obtain your next court date.

Next, there will be a pretrial conference. Your attorney will meet with the prosecutor to discuss everything from documentary evidence to key witnesses to potential settlement options including plea deals.

If the case cannot be resolved, it will move to a trial. Your case may be tried before the assigned judge or a jury of your peers.

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of criminal defense with a special focus on domestic-violence defense.

For a free consultation, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Don’t Let A Criminal Record Hold You Back

If a criminal record is holding you back, you now have several options for relief under Pennsylvania law.

First, if the charges were withdrawn or dismissed, or if you were convicted on a low-level offense and five years have passed, you can have your record expunged, which effectively erases the information from the public dockets.

Second, Pennsylvania recently adopted a new law allowing for limited access orders, which restricts employment agencies and internet websites from accessing any information relating to a conviction or arrest for people convicted of second- and third-degree misdemeanors.

Third, if you are currently serving a sentence for a crime, you can seek total forgiveness through by formally requesting a pardon from the governor. Obtaining a pardon tends to be more expensive and challenging the administrative processes for obtaining an expungement or limited access order.

To learn more about options for dealing with your criminal record, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Victim Impact Statements in Criminal Trials

Under Pennsylvania law, a crime victim may provide an impact statement to the Court at the time of sentencing.

Impact statements offer victims an opportunity to persuade the judge regarding appropriate sentencing, as well as the ability to confront their perpetrator and describe how their actions adversely affected their lives.

Victim impact statements may be provided after a trial. They may also be given after a defendant has accepted a plea agreement even when the terms of sentencing have been agreed upon by the prosecutor.

It is unclear whether these statements have much influence over judges.

It should be noted that a criminal-court judge may not rubber-stamp the agreed-upon sentencing terms offered in a plea deal.

Spivak Law Firm handles all criminal-defense matters with a special focus on domestic-violence defense. Typical charges include: assault, harassment, terroristic threats, stalking, reckless endangerment, and PFA violations.

For a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Accused of Child Abuse?

In the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, Pennsylvania expanded the mandatory child abuse reporting laws. As a result, the number of child abuse reports has soared.

Spivak Law Firm understands that reports of child abuse can be motivated by true safety concerns, though they are sometimes made to retaliate or harass.

Spivak Law Firm has extensive experience representing people accused of child abuse at Protection from Abuse (PFA) hearings, Children Youth and Families (CYF) hearings, and criminal domestic-violence hearings.

Based in Pittsburgh, we provide strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation.

If you face child abuse accusations, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or tolls free at (800) 545-9390.

Harsh Sentences For PFA Violations

People accused of violating Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders face stiff penalties.

A PFA prohibits all contact between a defendant and the person alleging abuse. A Final PFA hearing is usually scheduled within 10 days after the Temporary PFA is issued.

If you are accused of violating a Temporary PFA Order, the case will likely be heard before a family-court judge.

But if you are accused of violating a Final PFA Order, the case will likely be heard before a criminal-court judge.

The official charge for violating a PFA is known as Indirect Criminal Contempt (ICC).

An ICC conviction carries a possible penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Spivak Law Firm routinely handles PFA and ICC hearings. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Helping People Expunge Criminal Records

People with criminal records face major barriers to employment, housing and education.

Perhaps surprisingly, more than 90 percent of people eligible for criminal-record expungements don’t even apply, according to researchers.

Most people don’t know they can get an expungement, or don’t know how to do it, and don’t have lawyers to advise them.

The process can be long and complicated, requiring visits to courthouses. The fees and costs are a barrier for people in poverty.

At Spivak Law Firm, we help people expunge their criminal records so they can move on with their lives.

For a free consultation, call us today at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.