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July 2014 Archives

Do Private Attorneys Get Better Plea Deals than Public Defenders?

The fact that private criminal defense attorneys always seemed to get better plea deals for their clients than public defenders irked me to no end during the five years that I spent as a public defender at the start of my career as a criminal defense lawyer. This discrepancy in plea offers extended to private counsel versus public defenders was so universally known that my mentor in the Public Defenders' Office would advise defendants charged with serious felonies, who had no viable defense to raise at trial, that they should hire a private attorney in order to maximize their chances of getting a favorable plea offer. It was not that my mentor was trying to avoid another client on his case load; he legitimately cared about the wellbeing of these defendants and was giving them solid advice.plea-deal-2-300x168-thumb-300x168-40350.jpg

Pennsylvania Underage Drinking Penalties are Draconian

Pennsylvania law carries harsh penalties for underage drinking, despite the fact that the vast majority of people in every American generation have had at least one drink before reaching the age of 21. Although all states now have a drinking age of 21, the penalties and degree of law enforcement priority vary widely. Many young people and their parents are oblivious to just how harsh Pennsylvania's underage drinking laws are until they themselves are faced with an underage drinking citation.
Few people are aware that underage drinking in Pennsylvania carries a possible jail sentence of up to 90 days. Yes, you read that correctly. A judge could send you to jail for up to 90 days for drinking a beer if you are under 21. Rarely do judges impose such a sentence, unless there are severe aggravating circumstances and/ or the defendant has been in trouble many times before. Also, most people who receive jail time in an underage drinking case are usually also charged with felonies or misdemeanors or with additional summary offenses, such as disorderly conduct, criminal mischief or public drunkenness.
Most young people charged with underage drinking are not looking at jail time, but they are all looking at a possible driver's license suspension, even if the incident had absolutely nothing to do with driving. A first conviction carries a 90 day driver's license suspension, a second conviction carries a one year suspension, and a third or subsequent conviction carries a two year suspension. These suspensions are always served consecutively.

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McClenahen Law Firm

McClenahen Law Firm
315 South Allen Street
Suite 225
State College, PA 16801

Phone: 814-308-0870
Fax: 814-689-3686
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