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Criminal Defense in Pittsburgh

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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 isn’t true. 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.

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.

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.

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 lawyer.

How to hire a criminal defense attorney

Sometimes, finding the right criminal defense lawyer can be as simple as finding a lawyer near you who has criminal law experience.  Other times, the criminal lawyers near you don’t have the necessary experience to handle your case. In any event, you should call and talk to a few lawyers before hiring one. 

  • Talk to different practitioners and find out if they have the right experience for your case
    • Lawyers are trained to do research that helps them understand what the law means and how courts interpret those laws. They then take what they’ve discovered and apply the law to the facts of your case.
    • What makes a lawyer qualified is how well they understand the law and how well they can advocate and fight for you.
    • An experienced criminal lawyer will have the knowledge of the law and the practice experience to help them know what they can do to fight for you.
  • Use the consultation to see if they 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. That means calling and talking to more than just one lawyer.
  • Ask for an estimate of what the all of the costs will be up front.

Where should I get my lawyer from?

You can find a criminal lawyer by asking a friend or relative for a referral. You can also contact a local lawyer referral service or search online.

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

Who is the best criminal lawyer in Pittsburgh?

Since this is a law firm site, you might expect us to say that Bickerton Law is the best. The truth is that there is no “best criminal lawyer” in Pittsburgh. There are many experienced and qualified criminal defense attorneys in Pittsburgh. Some are public defenders, some are in private practice. What you should be looking for is the best criminal defense lawyer for you and your case. That means asking the right questions during the consultation and getting specific answers about the lawyer’s experience in handling trials and pleas, their experience in doing legal research, and information about how they stay up to date on the law.

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 Against the Family
  • Offenses Against Public Administration
    • Bribery
    • Falsification and Intimidation
    • Obstructing Governmental Operations
    • Abuse of Office
  • Miscellaneous Offenses
    • Offenses Involving Minors
    • Nuisances
    • Proprietary and Official Rights
    • Public Utilities
    • Sports and Amusements
    • Trade and Commerce
    • Other Offenses
    • Computer Offenses
    • Chop Shops and Illegally Obtained and Altered Property

What are the punishments for committing a crime in Pennsylvania?

The sentence that you get after being convicted of a crime in Pennsylvania depends on the grading of the offense.

 (1) Murder of the first degree	Mandatory death or life imprisonment
 (2) Murder of the second degree.	Mandatory life imprisonment
 (3) Felony of the first degree	20 years	—	$25,000 fine
 (4) Felony of the second degree.	10 years	—	$25,000 fine
 (5) Felony of the third degree.	7 years	—	$15,000 fine
 (6) Misdemeanor of the first degree.	5 years	—	$10,000 fine
 (7) Misdemeanor of the second degree.	2 years	—	$5,000
 (8) Misdemeanor of the third degree.	1 year	—	$2,000 fine
 (9) Summary Offense	90 days	—	$300 fine

*Certain offenses have special punishments that are more severe than the sentences listed above. Always check the relevant parts of the Crimes Code and Sentencing Act.

Bickerton Law is conveniently located in Ross Township near McCandless in the North Hills of Pittsburgh.