May 22, 2017 marked the next phase in the highly publicized criminal trial of Bill Cosby, as prosecutors and defense attorneys began the jury selection process in Pittsburgh, PA. CBS Philly reports that the famous comedian is facing charges on three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault, which allegedly occurred during a 2004 encounter with a woman at his suburban Philadelphia mansion. Cosby has pledged his innocence during the last year and a half’s worth of hearings, stating that the incident involving his accuser was consensual sexual activity. State law treats sexual offenses very seriously, and the criminal penalties of a conviction in the Cosby case could include several years in prison, probation, and other punishments. If you’re facing charges of aggravated indecent assault under similar circumstances, retaining a Pennsylvania attorney with experience in sexual offenses is critical.
The crime of indecent assault involves bringing a victim into contact with such bodily substances as semen, urine, or feces. Other elements of the crime include:
In some cases, the age of both the victim and offender are key. If the victim is between 13 and 15 years old, there is the presumption that he or she cannot consent.
These elements are why Cosby is charged with felony counts of aggravated indecent assault. The victim has alleged that he gave her some pills to relax in the face of a stressful situation. The woman has testified that it was during a period of unconsciousness after taking the pills that the assault took place.
Sentencing for a conviction depends upon the specific circumstances of the case. An indecent assault may be treated as a felony or misdemeanor. However, aggravated indecent assault is always a felony. If convicted, Cosby may face up to 10 years in prison.
Sex crimes like aggravated indecent assault carry significant penalties if you’re convicted, so it’s important to consult with a skilled criminal defense lawyer that will protect your interests. Depending on your case, there may be defenses available to dismiss or reduce the charges. Only a highly qualified attorney can help identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and fight for your rights. The lawyers at the Skinner Law Firm have comprehensive knowledge of the law regarding sexual offenses and criminal procedural rules, and will present all available defenses. Please contact our West Chester, PA office with questions or to schedule a consultation.
A story that may seem humorous to some actually sheds light on a very serious matter under Pennsylvania law: Drunk driving. According to Philadelphia’s NBC 10 News, a man was arrested for DUI after he allegedly smashed his vehicle into a police patrol car at a sobriety checkpoint. The incident occurred around 10:00 p.m. on May 20, 2017, when the man drove through traffic cones, struck a detective’s car and pushed it into another law enforcement vehicle. The irony of the situation is that the police car that was damaged is a “Don’t Drink and Drive” cruiser that was recently unveiled as a reminder to not participate in this type of risky behavior. However, another important item of note in the story is that it involves a sobriety checkpoint, stops that are somewhat controversial. Here’s what you need to know about sobriety checkpoints in Pennsylvania and what to do if you’re pulled over.
These stops aren’t based upon probable cause or reasonable suspicion of drunk driving, but are intended to be a random check for impaired motorists. The locations are temporary and random, and may be tied to an event or holiday where officials believe there may be higher incidents of drunk driving. All drivers that encounter the sobriety checkpoint are stopped and detained briefly.
Checkpoints are legal under Pennsylvania law, despite some controversy that they’re an unconstitutional search and seizure. The US Supreme Court has held that the risks drunk drivers pose on the roadway are significant, outweighing any civil rights violation. Therefore, a certain degree of intrusion is acceptable, including sobriety checkpoints. Still, to counter the potential for unlawful search and seizure, the federal government requires law enforcement to publicize the details in advance so that motorists have notice.
The sentence for a DUI conviction depends upon the amount of alcohol in your blood system and your prior history with drunk driving. Pennsylvania has a three-tiered structure in these cases:
The punishment if you have no prior DUIs ranges from six months’ probation and a $300 fine up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. If you have a history of DUI convictions, you may be looking at five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. In all but the most minor drunk driving cases, your driver’s license is subject to suspension.
If you have been charged with drunk driving pursuant to a sobriety checkpoint in Pennsylvania, an experienced DUI lawyer can help. There may be legal challenges to the stop, providing you with a potential defense or allowing you to negotiate for lesser charges. An experienced attorney can identify weaknesses in the state’s case against you and represent your interests in court. For more information on sobriety checkpoints and other methods police may use in connection with DUI cases, please contact the West Chester, PA offices of the Skinner Law Firm. We can answer your questions or schedule a consultation to discuss your matter in more detail.