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Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyer

Stalking: Penalties in Pennsylvania


PFA Pic2Under Pennsylvania law, the crime of stalking occurs when a person places another in reasonable fear of bodily injury or substantial emotional distress by either:

  • Engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person without proper authority; or
  • Engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly communicating to another person with intent to place them in fear or emotional distress.

A first offense is graded as a first-degree misdemeanor, but if it is a subsequent offense against the same person, you could face third-degree felony charges.

A conviction can result in jail time and costly fines, and also has the potential to affect your child custody rights, employment, and right to own a firearm.

Served with a PFA? Charged with assault? Terroristic threats? Harassment? Stalking? Call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

DUI: Voluntary Consent


DUI Pic5Law enforcement cannot conduct a blood draw during a DUI arrest without a warrant or voluntary consent, according to a recent opinion by the U.S. Supreme Court.

DUI offenders previously charged with the highest level of impairment for contesting a blood draw may now potentially be charged and sentenced at the lowest level of impairment.

This is a major development, particularly because of mandatory sentencing laws. For instance, in Pennsylvania if you were charged with a second DUI at the highest level of impairment, you faced 90 days incarceration at the minimum. But charged at the lowest level of impairment, you face a minimum of five days incarceration.

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

Charged with Harassment?


PFA Pic9Break-ups are painful, but repeated calls and texts to an ex, especially late at night, could lead to harassment charges filed against you.

Pennsylvania law defines harassment as acting with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, which includes:

  • Violent physical contact, or attempt of violent physical contact;
  • Following the other person in a public place;
  • Repeated acts serving no legitimate purpose;
  • Communicating any lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings or caricatures;
  • Communicating repeatedly in an anonymous manner; or
  • Communicating at inconvenient hours.

If you have been charged with harassment, immediately cease all forms of contact with the alleged victim. Continued attempts at communication could demonstrate to a judge that you intend to continue the behavior, thereby hurting your chances of getting the criminal charges dismissed.

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

Accused of Domestic Abuse?


Are you accused of domestic violence or child abuse?

Have you been served with a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order?

Have you been arrested or cited by police?

Are you under investigation by Children Youth and Families (CYF)?

Is your ex seeking sole or primary physical custody of your children?

Is your ex trying to terminate your parental rights?

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law and criminal defense with a focus on cases involving child custody and domestic violence.

We provide strong, aggressive defense at Protection From Abuse (PFA), Children Youth and Families (CYF) and criminal domestic violence hearings.

We fight back against heinous abuse allegations, protecting your reputation and preserving your child-custody rights.

Our child custody cases are high-conflict with parents who communicate poorly, make false accusations of neglect or abuse, and seek to alienate the other parent from the children.

Our PFA cases are high stakes with parents who risk losing their children, their homes, their liberty, and their employment. We have successfully represented police and military officers, nurses, teachers, and other professionals subject to criminal background checks. For these people, their careers are on the line.

If you’ve been falsely accused of abuse, call Spivak Law Firm today. We treat our clients with dignity and compassion. We build the strongest possible defense so you can get your life back.

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

Underage Drinking Penalties

Family Pic9Underage drinking offenses can carry stiff penalties including: license suspension, fines, court costs, and even jail time for people over 18. A one-time lapse in judgment has the potential to adversely affect future job prospects, academic opportunities, and even student loan eligibility.

If you or your child has been charged with underage drinking, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney can begin negotiations with the police officers or prosecutors before your hearing. At Spivak Law Firm, we aim to get the charges reduced or even dismissed.

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

Comic Bill Burr Riffs On Domestic Violence


Unknown-1Domestic violence is no laughing matter – except in the hands of comedian Bill Burr, who will be performing two sets in Pittsburgh this week at Heinz Hall.

Here’s an excerpt from the funnyman’s 2012 special You People Are All The Same:

“Obviously I’m not saying to hit a woman, you know. But saying there’s no reason, I think that’s crazy.

When you say there’s no reason, that kills any sort of examination as to how two people ended up at that place. You say there’s no reason, you cut out the build-up; you’re just left with the act. How are you gonna solve it if you don’t figure it out?

Look how awkward it is in here right now. I said you shouldn’t hit a woman. I’m just saying, how come you can’t ask questions? You can only ask questions about what the guy did. You can never about the woman. Why is that?

Look, I understand hitting a woman’s a bad thing, okay. How come you can’t ask questions? I just don’t understand.

Like, if I got bit by a rattlesnake, wouldn’t you guys have some questions? Right, how did it happen? Did you not see it? Were you [messing] with it? How did a snake get so mad it almost killed you?

Firemen put out a fire, they don’t just drive away afterward. They sift through the debris. How did it start? Here’s an oily rag! Right?

Look I realize I’m coming off pretty ignorant right about now. I realize that. Let me extend an olive branch then, okay?

I realize that there are some animal guys out there. Horrible guys, you know, have a rough day at the factory, come home – ‘tuna casserole?’ – and just start swinging, all right? I’m not trying to say that those people don’t exist. I realize that they exist. They should be buried underneath the prison. Okay?

So if I can admit that, ladies, can you at least admit that every ass-kicking doesn’t just fall out of the freakin’ sky? Really?

Even hockey has two minutes for instigating!”

Spivak Law Firm handles all family law and criminal defense matters with a focus on domestic-violence issues. For a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Why You Should File A Summary Appeal


Expunge Pic2In Allegheny County, if you are convicted of a summary offense such as harassment, disorderly conduct, retail theft, defiant trespassing, or underage drinking, then you should seriously consider filing a summary appeal.

If you file a summary appeal within 30 days of the conviction, you will be given a new trial – known by attorneys as a trial de novo – in the Court of Common Pleas.

There often is no transcript of the original summary trial conducted before your local magistrate. Thus, a summary appeal provides a second opportunity to have the charges against you dismissed.

At Spivak Law Firm, we handle summary trials, summary appeals, and expungements of criminal records. To schedule a free consultation, call (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Is Stalking A Crime In Pennsylvania?

Assault Pic4Stalking is a crime in Pennsylvania. There are two basic elements to the crime:

  • The stalker must complete at least two acts of unwanted behavior, no matter how close or far apart in time they are, and
  • The victim must experience reasonable fear of serious bodily injury or substantial emotional distress.

The prosecutor’s office in your county makes the final decision whether to file criminal charges, including stalking charges.

If you are accused of stalking, Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive defense in Protection From Abuse (PFA) and all criminal hearings. Call us today for a free consultation at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Governor Stops Death Penalty In Pennsylvania

Criminal Pic3Gov. Tom Wolf last month announced a moratorium on the death penalty in Pennsylvania.

Although the state has not executed a prisoner since 1999, there are currently 186 death-row inmates in Pennsylvania, including nine from the Pittsburgh area. Terrance Williams, who was convicted of murder and scheduled for execution by lethal injection this week, has been issued a reprieve.

Associations of Pennsylvania district attorneys and state troopers criticized the move, which Gov. Wolf says was necessary to review the “fundamental fairness” of capital punishment administered by the state. Specifically, the governor cited death-row inmates later exonerated and disproportionate sentencing of African Americans as evidence that the system is flawed.

Pennsylvania may eventually join 18 other states that have ended the death penalty.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive defense in all criminal matters. Charged with a crime? Call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

How To Appeal A Summary Trial Decision 

139378055Trials often determine important rights of the individuals involved. Even two reasonable people may disagree with the results of a trial. The judicial system in Pennsylvania has a built-in process where you can appeal a District Judge’s decision and be heard before a different judge. This is called a trial de novo. Allegheny County residents have 30 days from the date of a summary trial decision to file an appeal at the Department of Court Records, Room 115, Allegheny County Courthouse, in downtown Pittsburgh.

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