Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce
Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.

Criminal Law Archives

Don't get a DUI this Fourth of July!

As always, the Fourth of July is a great holiday for fireworks, cookouts, and family time. Unfortunately, it is also one of the days when the most DUI arrests are made. In Allegheny County, police are already making plans for stricter DUI enforcement. Allegheny county drivers can expect to see many DUI checkpoints on the road this weekend.

Governor Corbett Signs "Kevin's Law" and Enacts Harsher Penalties for Hit-and-Run Drivers

A few days before Christmas in 2012, a five-year-old boy named Kevin Miller was crossing a street in Wilkes-Barre, PA with his family. Walking only steps behind his father, a vehicle came out of nowhere, fatally struck the boy, and fled the scene. Now, Pennsylvania law makers have finally taken steps to close what many call a "loop-hole" in the DUI laws.

Update: Supreme Court Rules on Cell Phone Searches

The Supreme Court announced today that police officers will now need warrants to search through a person's cell phone. The vote was unanimous. The Court made it very clear that digital privacy in today's technological world is extremely important, and that American's have a constitutional right to digital privacy.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: City Council Votes to Decriminalize Marijuana

The Philadelphia City Council has voted to work toward decriminalizing marijuana. If they are successful in getting this bill enacted into law, police officers will be able to issue tickets, rather than arrest individuals, for $25 dollars for possession of up to an ounce of weed. Basically, it all comes down to what the mayor decides to do in September, if he waits until then. He has the option to sign the bill, veto the bill, or do nothing (doing nothing would result in the bill becoming law, without his outward notion of endorsement). Therefore, the bill will have a potential three-month waiting period before it can become an official law. Advocates of the bill are pushing the mayor to give them a decision now, as they would like to know what the future will hold. 

Right to a Speedy Trial in Pennsylvania

All Citizens of Pennsylvania are guarenteed a right to a speedy trial. By now, most people have probably heard about the judge in Florida who threatened to, and allegedly assault an attorney who refused to waive his client's right to a speedy trial. The two men exchanged heated words in the courtroom, and apparently had an altercation off camera. In any event, the right to a speedy trial is an important right granted to defendants in criminal cases. This right ensures that the judicial process is swift and effective. The right to speedy trial can be found in both the United States Constitution, and in the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure.

ARD in Allegheny County

ARD, or Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition, is a Pennsylvania program that is usually available to first time DUI offenders in Allegheny County. In some limited circumstances, an individual charged with a different minor crime may be eligible for the program. ARD is primarily a rehabilitative program, which allows for expedited court proceedings. However, there may also be certain suspensions or costs associated with ARD. This program is not meant to replace convictions completely, but it may be the right option for a first-time DUI offender.

Cell Phone Searches after Arrest: Recent Supreme Court Case may change rights in Pennsylvania

Oral arguments were recently given for two cases dealing with whether the police, after arresting an individual, can search the individual's cell phone without a warrant. This issue arose due to the ability of the police to search an individual post arrest and evaluate their findings--therefore, the question became, can they also go through the detained individual's cell phone, or is this too much of an invasion of privacy?