Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

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Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Attorney

New Pennsylvania Record-Sealing Law

Pennsylvania recently passed a law that seals minor criminal records. Supporters of the legislation hope it will reduce recidivism and open doors for those who have turned their lives around.

Under the legislation, people with sealed records would not have to disclose their criminal histories. Removing this barrier allows more Pennsylvanians to live without the stigma of a criminal record.

The new law, which applies in limited cases, for the first time allows Pennsylvanians to seal convictions for misdemeanor-level offenses.

At Spivak Law Firm, we aim to clear the arrests from your criminal record so you can move on with your life. For more information, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Expungements in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, your criminal record may be expunged if you meet certain criteria. An expungement can help you avoid the stigma associated with having a criminal record.

A criminal record can hurt your future by:

  • Costing you a job opportunity;
  • Denying you a bank or government loan
  • Disqualifying you from receiving a professional license; and
  • Restricting your ability to join certain organizations

At Spivak Law Firm, we aim to erase your criminal record so you can move on with your life. For more information, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Costs of a Criminal Record

While less serious than a felony charge, misdemeanors and summary offenses carry stigmas strong enough to cause problems beyond fines and inconvenience. If uncovered, they can cause potential school and job recruiters to look in other directions.

Programs across the country have been initiated to give first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to dodge that bullet. In Chicago, for instance, a program provides qualified offenders the opportunity to keep a charge from being permanently entered on their record and to avoid the accompanying stigma.

In Pennsylvania, people may be eligible to have their criminal records expunged or sealed.

At Spivak Law Firm, we aim to clear the arrests from your criminal record so you can move on with your life. For more information, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Criminal Records and Employers

When applying for a job, you are required to inform your employer of any misdemeanor of felony convictions. But you don’t have to disclose convictions for summary offenses. And you don’t have to tell your employer about criminal charges against you that were withdrawn or dismissed.

If you weren’t convicted, you may think that you have nothing to worry about. But employers can access your criminal record simply by using your name and date of birth. Even withdrawn or dismissed charges have the potential to negatively affect employment opportunities. Employers will likely wonder why the police brought charges against you in the first place.

If you were charged with a crime, and the charges against you were later withdrawn or dismissed, we can help you erase the incidents from your criminal record.

At Spivak Law Firm, we expunge criminal records for a low, one-time fee. For more information, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

No Guns for PFA Defendants

pfa-pic9Under federal law, people convicted of domestic-violence misdemeanors such as simple assault are banned from owning firearms.

The gun ban also extends to people who are subject to Protection From Abuse (PFA) restraining orders.

Guns are the most common method for killing intimate partners.

Laws restricting firearm access for people subject to restraining orders are associated with a 19 percent reduction in rates of intimate homicide, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law and criminal defense with a focus on domestic violence. Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Charged With A Crime?

SO000183If you have been criminally charged, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.

You may believe that you are able to effectively represent yourself in court, but the reality is that lawyers often obtain better deals than clients who represent themselves.

Police officers and prosecutors are aware of the fact that most lawyers have a firm grasp on the bargaining process and therefore extend offers of compromise that may not be made to a self-represented defendant who is unfamiliar with court procedure.

To speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

What’s A Preliminary Hearing?

Criminal Pic3A preliminary hearing is the first step in any criminal case involving a misdemeanor or felony. Whether you’re charged with terroristic threats or retail theft, your case begins with a preliminary hearing.

The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to determine whether there is a preponderance of evidence – a 51 percent chance – that a crime was committed and that the defendant was the person who committed that crime.

The preliminary hearing is not a trial. The defendant generally does not testify at the preliminary hearing. Only the arresting officer and the alleged victim testify at a preliminary hearing. Your criminal defense attorney then may cross-examine witnesses in an attempt to undermine their allegations and create a record for trial

To speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

5 Goals of ARD in Allegheny County

133338146In Allegheny County, the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program is commonly offered to most first-time, non-violent offenders. If participants complete the program’s requirements, they may get their criminal records expunged or erased. There are five goals of the ARD program:

(1)  Clean Slate: To provide first-time, non-violent offenders an opportunity to have their criminal charges expunged

(2)  Atonement: To hold offenders responsible while providing them an opportunity to atone for their criminal behavior

(3)  Rehabilitation: To provide offenders with treatment options

(4)  Restitution: To restore the financial burden incurred by the victim

(5)  Efficiency: To enable the courts to dispose of cases in a cost-effective manner

To speak with a Pittsburgh criminal attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll fee at (800) 545-9390.

5 Factors for Setting Bail in Allegheny County

SO000183A court uses several factors to determine the amount and type of bail it sets. Under Pennsylvania law, bail is security used to guarantee a person’s appearance in criminal court. A court may release you from jail on a Cash Bail, in which you must post the full amount of the face value of the bond, or a Percentage Cash Bail, in which you must deposit 10 percent of the face amount of the bond, or Release on Own Recognizance (R.O.R.) bond, in which you need not post any cash whatsoever.

In Allegheny County, the five main criteria used in the setting of bail are:

(1)  The nature of the offense charged;

(2)  Prior criminal history;

(3)  Length of residence or community ties in Allegheny County;

(4)  History of prior appearances in Court; and

(5)  Whether or not the defendant poses a threat to the safety of the community.

To speak with an Allegheny County criminal attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Jail Alternatives in Allegheny County

200488043-001Allegheny County has six specialty courts that offer intensive treatment as an alternative to jail for repeat criminal offenders. These courts, which generally handle non-violent offenders only, often require longer time commitments than typical incarceration. The main purpose of specialty courts is rehabilitation not punishment. Allegheny County’s specialty courts are described below.

DUI Court is available to defendants who have been arrested at least two times on misdemeanor counts of drunken driving and have not been convicted of a violent crime for at least ten years.  DUI Court requires monthly progress hearings, electronic home monitoring, and breathalyzers before entering the courtroom.

DUI Hotel, an alternative to the mandatory minimum jail term for persons convicted of DUI, involves four days of intensive programming, classes, and therapy at a specific location in Allegheny County. The sentence is completed at the end of the program, which is paid for by the defendant.

Drug Court is available for repeat drug offenders who have not been convicted of a violent crime in the past ten years. All defendants entering the program must plead guilty to the charges, be placed on electronic monitoring, and complete all treatment requirements recommended by the Drug Court Specialist.

Mental Health Court is available to misdemeanor and non-violent felony offenders with a documented diagnosis of a mental disorder. Defendants may be released from jail and placed in mental health treatment as part of probation.

Veterans Court is available for veterans of the United States Armed Forces with substance-abuse issues and mental-health disorders. Like Mental Health Court and Drug Court, Veterans Court meets monthly and undertakes regular progress reports, treatment plans, and probation.

Prostitution Court is mandatory for most defendants charged with prostitution crimes. Like Drug Court and Mental Health Court, it requires therapy and monthly progress hearings.

To discuss whether you may be eligible for a specialty court as an alternative to jail, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.