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September 2013 Archives

Burglary, Robbery and Theft are Distinct Crimes under Pennsylvania Law

As a criminal defense lawyer, it is a pet peeve of mine to hear people misuse the terms "burglary and "robbery." It is a common mistake for people to use these terms interchangeably, as if they are synonyms for the same crime. However, as any first year law student or police academy graduate can tell you, these are actually very distinct crimes not only under Pennsylvania law, but in all jurisdictions following English common law traditions.

Priest Charged with Sex Offenses on Penn State Scranton Campus May Have Defense

Police caught a Catholic priest engaging in a sexual act with a 15 year old boy on the Penn State Scranton campus in Dunmore, Pennsylvania, on September 19, 2013. Various sex offense charges have been filed against Rev. W. Jeffrey Paulish including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, unlawful contact with a minor, indecent assault, indecent exposure and corruption of minors.

Guilty Verdict in State College Terroristic Threats and Fire Arms Case

Michael Afuwape of Philadelphia was found guilty of terroristic threats and firearms not to be carried without a license following a non-jury trial before Judge Pamela Ruest in the Centre County Court of Common Pleas on September 24, 2013.  Police alleged that when a Penn State student inadvertently bumped into Mr. Afuwape during the 2012 Blue and White Game weekend, Mr. Afuwape lifted his shirt to reveal a hand gun, and threatened to shoot the student. The Penn State student and his three friends ran into McDonald's at College and Sowers and called 911. Afuwape was arrested shortly thereafter.

DUI for Penn State Students is Most Common in Senior Year

I have been a criminal defense lawyer in State College, Pennsylvania long enough to have noticed certain patterns in the Centre County criminal justice system. One such pattern is that a Penn State student is far more likely to be charged with DUI during his or her senior year than at any other time. The downside is that this is the worst possible time in a student's academic career to be charged with a crime, because it coincides with job searches and grad school

Penn State Canning Weekends See Reduced Crime in State College

As a criminal defense lawyer in State College, Pennsylvania, I can tell you that we see a greatly reduced call volume following a Penn State THON Canning Weekend. Any local police officer will tell you that Canning Weekends are a welcome break. Although only a minority of students go Canning, there is a reduction in crime far out of proportion to the number of students who leave Happy Valley. The biggest reduction in crime we see is in alcohol-related offenses like underage drinking, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief and DUIcanning-560x540-thumb-460x443-24973.jpg.

Robbery Charges Against Student in Spiderman Costume

There are usually a rash of crimes committed by costumed defendants at the end of October, but a 21 year old Pitt student go into the Halloween spirit early. Jonathan Hewson is accused of trying to rob a convenience store near his apartment in Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood, while wearing a Spiderman costume. When the costumed Hewson asked store clerk Bob Patel, "how much money you got?," Patel believed he was about to become a robbery victim. Patel grabbed a stun gun and chased Hewson out of the store. It was not hard for police to quickly apprehend the only guy in Pittsburgh, if not the entire state of Pennsylvania, walking around in a Spiderman costume. Hewson was lodged in Allegheny County Jail on $50,000 bail.

Domestic Violence-Related Assault Charges Arise Following Threesome

Everyone has heard of a "drug deal gone bad," but few have heard of a "threesome gone bad." Then again, when two of the threesome participants are cousins, you could say that it never had a chance of "going well." Assault charges have been filed against a Myrtle Beech man in the aftermath of a threesome involving Terry Antone Jenkins, his girlfriend and her female cousin. A man who apparently has no qualms about his girlfriend having sex with her blood relative has to draw a line somewhere. His girlfriend having sex with her cousin is just fine, as long as Mr. Jenkins is involved, but his girlfriend having sex with her cousin, without him involved, just goes to far.

Pennsylvania DUI Suspect Detained By McDonald's Employees

Underpaid McDonald's workers seeking a living-wage have a stronger argument, at least in Halifax, Pennsylvania, where McDonald's employees recently made a "citizens arrest" of an intoxicated man who had driven to the fast food joint with his minor child in tow. In fact, given how many people drive drunk to McDonald's locations around the world, perhaps detaining DUI suspects should become a standard part of McDonald's training. The Mickey D's employees acted out of a concern for the safety of the child, and called police after detaining 32 year old Nicholas Apostolopoulos. And because a child was in the car, Apostolopoulos faces charges in addition to DUI.

Can Penn State Curtail Alcohol Offenses by Serving Beer at Beaver Stadium?

On its face, it would appear that serving beer inside Beaver Stadium during Penn State football games would be throwing gasoline onto a fire. How could granting access to even more alcohol than the countless gallons of booze already guzzled in the Beaver Stadium parking lots possibly reduce the number of public drunkenness and disorderly conduct charges? As it turns out, serving beer in stadiums may be the classic example of the counter-intuitive approach being the best approach.penn-state-fans_stduent.white-out-thumb-350x257-24375.jpg

Possible Assault Charges for Enraged Pennsylvania Prep Quarterback

A Pennsylvania high school football player with aspirations of winning a D-1 scholarship faces possible criminal charges after an on-field incident on September 6, 2013, in which Hamburg High School quarterback Joey Cominsky ripped the helmet off the head of an opposing lineman, and then swung the helmet at the victim's exposed head, as he lay on the ground. Although the conduct in question was captured on video, South Annville Township Police plan to interview more than 100 witnesses, including players, coaches and referees, before deciding how to proceed.

Retail Theft Does Not Always Involve Removal of Items from Store

The classic retail theft scenario involves hiding items, and then walking right out the front door of a store without paying for them. Yet not all retail thefts follow this pattern. Under Pennsylvania law, one form or retail theft involves consuming or tampering with items in a store without paying for them. In German, there is even a term for such behavior, which is not surprising, as the German language seems to have a term for every concept. It is called Mundraub, which translates to something like "mouth robbery." Although, retail theft is legally quite distinct from a robbery, I still love the imagery evoked by the term.

Underage Drinking Charges Common at Penn State Tailgates

After the Nittany Lions' opening game victory over old Eastern Independent rival Syracuse, we Penn Staters are optimistic about the season as we head into our first home game, Mark Emmert and his evil junta be damned. Unfortunately, not every Penn Stater is going to go home happy, even if we convincingly cover the 22.5 point spread against Eastern Michigan. It does not take a psychic to predict that a certain number of young people at the game Saturday are going to be charged with underage drinking pursuant to Section 6308 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code.

What is "Criminal Mischief" in Pennsylvania?

Criminal Mischief is one of the more common crimes charged in Pennsylvania, yet the average person does not know exactly what it is. Unlike most offenses under the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, its name it not self-explanatory. It sounds like generalized badassery engaged in by the likes of Bevis and Butthead, Bart Simpson, Denis the Menace and Eddie Haskell. If you got the "Eddie Haskell," reference, I hate to break it to you, but you are old, as am I for making the reference.

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