If you have been charged with a crime, it is important to have an experienced criminal lawyer help you as early in the process as possible. Many people assume that it is not important to get an attorney until their case reaches the trial level. Others assume that, if they are going to enter a plea, hiring a lawyer early in the process is a waste of money. This is not the case. Whether you plan on entering a plea or picking a jury, it is important to have a skilled criminal defense attorney by your side every step of the way. It is also important to have a lawyer who regularly practices in the geographic area where you have been charged. Bickerton Law has represented thousands of defendants in the greater Pittsburgh area. From preliminary hearings to post-sentencing, the criminal defense firm of Bickerton Law will help you get the best result in your case.
What to know about criminal defense in Pittsburgh
Who needs a criminal defense lawyer?
Criminal defense attorneys help clients with any problems they have that may involve the criminal justice system. They are basically the ones you call when you are in trouble. This type of trouble includes traffic tickets, summary citations, DUI charges, misdemeanors, felonies, and child abuse allegations.
Why should I hire a criminal defense lawyer?
In the United States, everyone has the right to pick who represents them in court. You even have the right to represent yourself. But just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. Information about the law and how courts work is publicly available. What makes a criminal defense attorney different is that they will know how the system works and what the law means. This is an important point to remember: Not just any lawyer has the necessary experience to get the best possible result in criminal court. “The law” is more than just what’s found in the statutes. Although the statutes will tell you what the law says, it often takes an opinion from the court to explain what the law actually means. So, although anyone with a smartphone can find a criminal statute in under a minute, it takes a lawyer who has read the relevant cases to tell you what the law actually means.
What do criminal defense attorneys do?
In the most general terms: Criminal defense lawyers help their clients when they are fighting summary offenses and criminal charges. Sometimes, you might be accused of committing a crime or an offense but aren’t brought to criminal court. In some of those cases, you are investigated but then nothing else comes of it. Other times, you may avoid criminal charges or summary citations but are still facing other issues like an investigation by Children and Youth Services (CYS) or a driver’s license suspension hearing. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you with any of those issues.
Where should I get my lawyer from?
Sometimes, finding the right criminal defense lawyer can be as simple as finding the lawyer closest to you with criminal law experience. Other times, the criminal lawyers near you don’t have the necessary experience to handle your case. What you should do when hiring a lawyer is to talk to different practitioners and find out if they 1.) have the right experience for your case and 2.) work well with you. An attorney-client relationship is like any other relationship: You need to be able to communicate and work well together. When trying to find the best criminal defense attorney, you have to do your due diligence and make sure that you pick the right one.
When should I hire a criminal defense attorney?
Once you find out that you are being investigated for a crime or offense, you should start looking into hiring a criminal defense lawyer. And you definitely should not wait until after talking to the police or giving a statement to any type of investigator before hiring your counsel.
How much does a criminal defense lawyer cost?
This is going to sound like a very “lawyer” answer, but, it depends. The amount you can expect to pay for an experienced criminal defense attorney will depend on:
- How serious the charges against you are
- How far away from the lawyer’s office your case is
- Whether the charges are at the magistrate’s office, at the court of common pleas, or in an appeals court
- How much experience the criminal lawyer has
- How much time the defense attorney has to prepare before the hearing date
- Whether any special motions need to be filed
- Whether you are a first-time offender and eligible for an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) or Probation Without Verdict (PWV)
- Whether or not your case will likely go to court
What are crimes in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, the Crimes Code is known as Title 18 of the Consolidated Statutes. The Crimes Code is broken down into seven different articles. Each article deals with different types of offenses. Keep in mind that certain other crimes aren’t in the Crimes Code. For example, the offenses for drug charges are found in 35 P.S. § 780-113. Information about Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is found in the motor vehicle code.
- Offenses Against Stability or Existence of Government
- Offenses Against the Flag
- Offenses Involving Danger to the Person
- Crimes Against Unborn Child
- Human Trafficking
- Offenses Against Property
- Arson, Criminal Mischief, and Property Destruction
- Forgery and Fraudulent Practices
- Offenses Against the Family
- Offenses Against Public Administration
- Falsification and Intimidation
- Obstructing Governmental Operations
- Abuse of Office
- Offenses Against Public Order and Decency
- Riot, Disorderly Conduct, and Related Offenses
- Public Indecency
- Miscellaneous Offenses
- Offenses Involving Minors
- Proprietary and Official Rights
- Public Utilities
- Sports and Amusements
- Trade and Commerce
- Other Offenses
- Computer Offenses
- Chop Shops and Illegally Obtained and Altered Property