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SKA Law takes on fewer clients than other firms – it’s because we believe that taking on fewer clients means we can provide more service, and better results.
Our firm has over 25 years of combined legal practice. Our Philadelphia criminal attorneys have been recognized by the top lawyer ranking services.
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We take on fewer clients than other firms. Each client works 1:1 on with one of our senior attorneys.
Courts of Common Pleas in Bucks and other Pennsylvania counties exercise general jurisdiction, which means this Court hears a broad array of legal matters. These cases include divorces, automobile wrecks, contract disputes, probates, juvenile delinquency and criminal cases.
The Bucks County Court of Common Pleas can handle in some form all criminal charges. The type of charge you face generally determines if and when you might find yourself in the Court of Common Pleas.
The Bucks County Court of Common Pleas tries and disposes of felonies. Generally, these more serious crimes carry minimum penalties of more than five years in jail. within the list of felonies live offenses such as murder, arson, kidnapping and theft of property in excess of $2,000 in value.
Felony cases in Bucks County may begin in a lower-level court known as Magisterial District Court. If you are at this level and are charged with a felony, a judge will conduct a preliminary hearing to determine if there is probable cause to try you for the felony. Here, the judge examines whether the evidence is sufficient to make a prlma facie case of your guilt. This does not involve an assessment of the credibility or believability of any of the witnesses nor are any factual disputes resolved. You have a right to be represented by counsel at a preliminary hearing.
By contrast, you do not have the right to an attorney nor to even appear at or bring evidence before a grand jury. This panel decides whether you should be indicted for a crime. As with a judge conducting a preliminary hearing, the grand jury must decide if there is probable cause, or sufficient evidence, that you should be tried for the felony. Grand jury proceedings are conducted under the authority and supervision of the Court of Common Pleas. If you are indicted, you will not have a preliminary hearing in the Magisterial District Court.
Misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of no more than five years in jail. These offenses originally are tried in Magisterial District Court. In that forum, the judge, rather than a jury, hears the evidence and renders a verdict. If you’re found guilty, you may request a trial de novo, or a new trial, in the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas. You have a right to a jury trial in misdemeanors or felonies in the Court of Common Pleas.
You have a right to a fair and impartial jury to determine your guilt or innocence.
To that end, jury selection represents an important aspect of criminal defense. During a voir dire, your lawyer will ask potential jurors questions designed to determine the presence of bias against you. Potential signs of bias may include animosity towards people of a certain racial or ethnic group or a belief that all defendants are guilty.
Criminal defense lawyers test the prosecution’s case through cross-examining witnesses. Many of these questions are designed to show to the jury:
*Bias, such as a personal or financial interest in you being convicted
*Inconsistent statements, such as the testimony differing from statements to investigators
*A pattern or character for not giving truthful testimony, such as through certain crimes
The Bucks County Court of common pleas also oversees the adult probation and parole.
Depending upon the seriousness of the offense and no prior criminal record, a conviction may result in probation or parole. In the former, the sentence to prison or jail is suspended. You must report to a probation officer and follow his or her instructions. Conditions may include restrictions on travel, submission to warrantless searches and no drug use. Violations may activate your prison sentence.
Parole is a release from prison before the end of the sentence period. As with those on probation, parolees face supervision and restrictions.
If you’re charged with a crime in Bucks County, you may find yourself before the Court of Common Pleas. Contact us so we can protect your rights, defend against criminal charges or resolve the case with a minimal as practicable or possible punishment to you.