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Posts tagged "expungement"

Does a Marijuana-Related Criminal Charge Mean My Child Needs Drug Treatment?

As a criminal defense lawyer a mere five minute walk from the Penn State campus, I have represented countless Penn State students charged with marijuana-related offenses. More often than not, the initial phone calls or emails come from the students' parents, rather than the students themselves, because the parents are the ones who will be hiring a criminal defense attorney. A commonly raised concern among parents is whether they should be worried about deeper problems than the small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia charge, and whether they should get their child into drug treatment.
The favorite answer of lawyers to most questions is "it depends," and it is the most appropriate answer in this scenario. Sometimes, marijuana use is a symptom of bigger problems, like depression, while other times it is harmless, occasional recreational use. We really need to know more before we can ascertain whether criminal charges arising from marijuana use are just the tip of the iceberg.

Pennsylvania Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Still Needs Some Work

The marijuana decriminalization bill recently introduced by Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Stack is a nice first step, but does not address all the current problems caused by Prohibition. The bill would reduce possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use (less than 30 grams) to a summary offense for the first two offenses. Anyone unlucky enough to receive a third small amount of marijuana charge could be charged with an ungraded misdemeanor, at the discretion of the district attorney. Most Pennsylvania summary offenses are punishable by up to 90 days in jail, but Senator Stack's bill would eliminate the possibility of jail time for the first two convictions. Rather than jail time or probation, defendants would be subject to court costs and a fine not to exceed $500.

Centre County Expungement Filing Fees See Major Increase

Recently, Centre County, Pennsylvania defense attorneys received notice that the filing fees for expungements will increase from $15 to $75 effective January 2, 2014. The filing fee had remained at $15 for many years, even though it was costing the Clerk of Courts Office a lot more than $15 to handle the voluminous, bureaucratic paperwork and procedures associated with each expungement filing. With the increased fee, I suspect that the Centre County Clerk of Courts will go from losing money on expungements to making a small profit, which will offset losses in other areas.

Collateral Consequences: It is Hard to Hide a Criminal Record in the Modern World

Once upon a time, if you committed a crime in Philadelphia, you could just move to Pittsburgh, and no one would know about your criminal past. There was no electricity, let alone a computer data base. There was really no way for one county to communicate with another county about a suspect's prior record, and even if there were an efficient means of communication, how could the authorities in the arresting county enquire about a criminal record in every other county in the United States?

Collateral Consequences: Felony and Misdemeanor Convictions Last Forever

One of the most common questions I get as a criminal defense attorney is how long a misdemeanor or felony conviction will stay on a person's record. This is of particular concern to my client base, because I practice criminal law in State College, Pennsylvania, and most of my clients are Penn State students, who want a clean record when they start looking for a job upon graduation. The simple answer is that like diamonds, misdemeanor and felony convictions last forever. Having a criminal record is the biggest collateral consequence to a criminal conviction, and it can haunt you for the rest of your life.police-criminal-record-with-man-silhouette--illustration-thumb-400x400-21848.jpg

Retail Theft Convictions Carry Long-Term Repercussions

I have lost track of how many calls I have received from a frantic recent college graduate, who has just been fired from her new job, after the company obtained her criminal background check. The caller goes on to explain that she pled guilty to a retail theft while a student at Penn State. Usually, the item in question was valued at under $10. The caller goes on to say that a lady at the magisterial district court told her it was no big deal, it was "just like a traffic ticket," and if she pled guilty, there would just be a fine and court costs. (I use feminine prepositions here because retail theft is one of the only crimes, which females commit as often as, if not more often, than males).

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McClenahen Law Firm

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