Criminal Law

We are a Criminal Defense Law Firm

• Felony • Misdemeanor • Summary • Traffic citations• Drunk driving (DUI / DWI) • Murder / homicide • Drug possession • Narcotics sales • Sexual assault • Theft • Burglary • Robbery • White collar crimes • Indirect criminal contempt (ICC)

Criminal Defense

Criminal offenses can be categorized in three classes:  Felony, Misdemeanor, and Summary. Each of the “Felony” and “Misdemeanor” classes have three separate levels called the “grade” of the charge. This grade can be a 1, 2 or a 3, with the “1” grade being the most serious of the three grades. Summary offenses have no separate grades and are generally equal to a traffic ticket, but with one exception. Traffic tickets normally don’t carry a potential jail sentence.

A criminal conviction for any offense can result in severe punishment which could affect you for the rest of your life. Most notably, a criminal conviction in any category of an offense will give you a criminal record that will follow you forever. All criminal offenses, including Summary criminal charges, carry not only a fine but a potential term of imprisonment. For example, many people do not realize that the Summary offense of “Disorderly Conduct” carries a maximum fine of $300 as well as a maximum potential jail term of 90 days. Needless to say, even what many might regard as a very minor criminal offense could present some very serious consequences both personally and to your employment situation.

Aside from the fines imposed by the courts and the overall embarrassment of having to deal with the legality of the situation, some types of criminal convictions could seriously affect your future employment or ability to even obtain a job. A “Felony” conviction, for example, is a type of offense that would hamper getting a job, obtaining certain federal benefits, gun ownership and hunting privileges—just to name a few. Felonies are the most serious class of criminal offenses and are not regarded lightly by the criminal justice system.

However, if you have been accused of a more minor offense such as a misdemeanor and are a first-time offender, meaning you have no prior criminal convictions, you may be eligible to enter into an Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) program that involves probation and rehabilitative treatment as an alternative to more severe punishments such as jail. This type of program is administrated by the county’s district attorney’s office and the eligibility requirements often vary county-to-county. It’s a viable alternative to spending any time in jail and upon your successful completion of the program’s requirements, the charges against you will be dropped. You never plead guilty and you are never convicted. Consequently, no criminal record following you forever and no potential impact on your present or future employment. Contact me to see if this alternative could apply to your situation.

As a former assistant district attorney, I have achieved a thorough understanding of how police might consider various criminal charges against you and what evidence they may rely upon to succeed in their prosecution. I have the trial experience to handle your legal concerns, whether its involves a summary offense, a DUI/DWI or other misdemeanor, or the most serious category of crimes—a felony. My experience enables me to examine your case from the perspective of the police officer, the prosecuting attorney and as your criminal defense lawyer. My job is to help you understand the process so that you can make informed decisions about your future. But my work doesn’t end there. I also will aggressively defend your rights throughout every step of the process, whether it involves presenting your case at trial or working with the prosecuting attorney to negotiate a favorable plea that minimizes the impact on your and your family’s life.

Indirect Criminal Contempt (ICC)

Many people involved in relationships that deteriorate to less than desirable levels of affection often find themselves on the receiving end of a Protection From Abuse (PFA) action. If the court finds that the basis is sufficient for imposing a PFA against an individual, any violation of the requirements of the PFA Order would result in an action called an Indirect Criminal Contempt, or ICC.

Although a PFA begins as a civil action by one party in the relationship against the other party, the ICC penalty carries not only a fine but possibly up to six months in jail, depending upon the severity of the violation. The possible imposition of jail time is what ultimately defines the offense as a criminal sanction.

If you are seeking a Protection From Abuse action, are faced with defending yourself against one, or are being charged with violating a provision of a PFA Order of Court, you need a lawyer. No one is telling you that you can’t handle any aspect of a PFA or an ICC on your own, but it is extremely risky to your future. This is the type of work the Law Office of J. Michael Sheldon handles on a regular basis. I can help you. Contact me today..

Pennsylvania Attorney 717-657-3464