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Updated:

August 31, 2022

What Should I Do If I Am Charged with a Violent Crime in Pennsylvania?

What to Do If I Am Charged With a Violent Crime in Pennsylvania? Description: Find out what is considered a violent crime in Pennsylvania, what are the main types and what to do if you are charged with a violent crime in Pennsylvania.

If you are charged with a violent crime in Pennsylvania, you need to understand the type of the crime and hire a professional violent crimes attorney. The Pennsylvania criminal justice system can be harsh and merciless to people charged with violent crimes. Potential penalties can include years of incarceration and a permanent stigma even after your release.

What Is Considered a Violent Crime?

What is considered a violent crime in PA? A crime is classified as “violent” if

  • You physically harm someone without justification;
  • You threaten someone with violence while committing a crime (“Your money or your life”);
  • You use violence against someone during the commission of a crime.

Never forget that when determining what is considered a violent crime, Pennsylvania includes many offenses in which the defendant never even touches the victim.

Types of Violent Crimes

violent felony

Specifically, what crimes are considered violent? When you face criminal charges for a violent crime, you need to know more than simply what is considered a violent crime. Pennsylvania prosecutes many different types of violent crimes, and penalties can range from anger management classes to capital punishment.

A skilled Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer can secure the best possible outcome for any of the many different types of crimes you can be charged with. Following is a list of some of the most common types of violent crimes.

Robbery

Robbery is stealing by use of force or the threat of force, including the threat of harm to the victim. If you brandish a weapon, Pennsylvania can charge you with armed robbery, which is even more serious.

Arson

Arson is the illegal use of the destructive power of fire or explosives with the intent to damage property. The property can even be your own property if, for example, you are seeking to justify a future insurance claim.

Assault and Battery

Threatening someone with a baseball bat, a gun, or even a pair of scissors is assault even if you never touch the victim. Striking someone with a weapon or your fist is battery, even if the victim suffers no injury.

Carjacking

Carjacking, a modification of the word “hijacking,” is the robbery of a car in the victim’s presence. In many cases, it involves forcibly removing the owner from the driver’s seat on a public street (while the victim is waiting for a traffic light, for example).  

Child Abuse

what is considered a violent crime

Courts look very unfavorably upon people convicted of harming children. People frequently use false child abuse charges to gain an advantage in child custody proceedings.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is violence perpetrated within a family unit or romantic relationship. The police might arrest you for domestic violence even over the objections of the alleged victim. A conviction for domestic violence also carries a devastating social stigma.

Hate Crimes

A hate crime is a crime (in this case, a violent crime) that the defendant perpetrated against someone because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or specific other demographic or innate characteristics.

Kidnapping

You might characterize kidnapping as the theft of a person rather than an object. Kidnapping charges are particularly serious if the victim was a minor or if the kidnapping involved another crime such as carjacking.

Manslaughter

Manslaughter is the unintentional but blameworthy killing of another human being. A classic example of manslaughter is causing a fatal car accident due to driving while intoxicated.

Murder

Like manslaughter, murder involves the killing of a human being. The difference with manslaughter is that with murder, the perpetrator does not act unintentionally. Their goal is usually the death of the victim.

Terrorism

types of violent crimes

Terrorism is a violent or dangerous act motivated by a desire to achieve political change through intimidation. It is an extremely serious charge.

Steps You Need to Take If You Are Charged with a Violent Crime in Pennsylvania

To avoid the most serious outcomes of your charge, you will have to make all the right moves from day one. Following is a listing of steps you need to take to maximize your chances of a favorable outcome.

Remain Silent

If you have watched TV police dramas, you have heard it: “You have the right to remain silent….” In fact, you do have this right, regardless of whether you are in custody. This is a right you must exercise, even if you are innocent.

The police have a hundred ways to use your own words against you. Don’t give them a chance. Be polite but firm, and tell the police that you will not answer questions until you have a lawyer present.

Understand the Charges You Are Facing

Knowledge is power. The more deeply you understand the charges against you, the less likely you are to make a mistake that will damage your case. You need to know:

  • Whether your charge is a misdemeanor, a felony, or a “wobbler” (an offense that the prosecutor can charge as a misdemeanor or a felony).
  • The maximum sentence, especially in terms of jail or prison time, and any minimum sentence that might apply.
  • The elements of the crime charged-–what the prosecution must prove to win a conviction.

The more you know, the better your chances will be.

Contact an Attorney Immediately

You are unlikely to be effective without an experienced criminal defense attorney. Even if you are an attorney, representing yourself makes about as much sense as a doctor attempting to perform surgery on themself. Hire an attorney as soon as you can after you are charged. Don’t let the prosecutor talk you into a plea bargain without running it past your lawyer first.

Be Honest with Your Attorney

a serious crime

Your attorney is on your side. By law and professional ethics, your attorney cannot reveal the content of the communication between you. Your lawyer cannot reveal almost anything you say to them, even if they are being questioned under oath.

Revealing client confidence can also result in professional sanctions against your lawyer. The purpose of this principle is to allow you to be honest with your attorney. Take advantage of this opportunity regardless of whether you are guilty or innocent.

Try to Avoid Talking to Your Family and Friends about the Arrest

If you are like most people, you will feel highly tempted to talk about your case with your family and friends. Resist this temptation at all costs because there are many ways this could backfire on you. Unlike your lawyer, your family and friends are not bound by confidentiality obligations.

Turn off your social media accounts until your case is resolved, because under certain circumstances, the prosecution can use social media posts against you in court.

Write Down What You Remember

Write down everything that happens in your case while it is still fresh in your memory. Keep this record safe from everyone but yourself and your attorney. When something new happens that is relevant to your case, write that down too. Review these records periodically, so they stay fresh in your mind.

You should also keep a record of the names and contact details of any potential witnesses who might be able to provide favorable testimony in your case.

Conclusion

If Pennsylvania has charged you with a violent crime, you are in serious trouble. However, there are ways to fight back against the Pennsylvania criminal justice system. Alan J. Tauber is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia with over 25 years of experience. Contact us online or call 215-575-0702 for a case consultation, where Mr. Tauber can listen to your story or answer your questions.

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