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Jules Szanto is licensed in Pennsylvania and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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Drug possession and distribution

Although drug laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are changing as we see them changing throughout the US, possession and distribution of certain drugs can still carry serious penalties ranging from involvement in a diversionary program to probation and incarceration. Oftentimes, first time offenders involved in the possession or distribution of controlled substances are eligible for a diversionary program or some sort of drug treatment program. However, individuals with prior drug possession or distribution convictions may face stiffer penalties which absolutely require the zealous representation and defense of an experienced attorney.

If you’ve been arrested for possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance, your first line of defense is a motion to suppress. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the arrest, the police may have violated your constitutional rights under the United States constitution as well as the Pennsylvania state constitution, and only an experienced attorney can protect your constitutional rights by way of a motion to suppress or trial.

Assault

Sexual assault notwithstanding, there are different types of violent crimes which can be classified as assault: simple assault as a misdemeanor of the second degree, which can carry up to two years of incarceration, and is defined as when an individual intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person. This can be anything from a fight outside a bar to negligently injuring another person with a deadly weapon, such as a kitchen knife. Simple assault of the third degree, however, can carry up to one year of incarceration, and is generally defined when two people voluntarily engage in a fight, defined by the law as “mutual consent.”

Aggravated Assault

Aggravated assault can be either a felony of the first degree, which, depending on the circumstances, carries a maximum of twenty years incarceration, or a felony of the second degree, which carries a maximum of ten years incarceration. Either way, an individual charged with aggravated assault as a felony of the first or second degree faces considerable penalties and should absolutely speak with an attorney about how to best handle charges such as these. These charges can arise if an individual attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another or attempts bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon.

Serious Bodily Injury

In Pennsylvania, serious bodily injury is defined as bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

Bodily Injury

Impairment of physical condition or substantial pain
For purposes of aggravated assault, a deadly weapon is defined as any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, or any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or serious bodily injury, or any other device or instrumentality which, in the manner in which it is used or intended to be used, is calculated or likely to produce death or serious bodily injury.

What exactly qualifies as a deadly weapon?

It can be anything from a padlock on a keychain to the jagged rim on a tuna can being used by an individual in a violent fashion.

Protected Classes

Even if a person has no deadly weapon and no intention of causing serious bodily injury or death, they may still be charged with aggravated assault if they attempt by physical menace to put any of the individuals in a “protected class” while in the performance of their duty in fear of imminent, serious bodily injury.

What is a protected class?

Anybody enumerated under 18 Pa.C.S. §6.C which includes anyone from a police officer, SEPTA worker, state law enforcement official, assistant district attorney, to a firefighter. This list is not exhaustive.
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One can be charged with aggravated assault for something as simple as pushing their way through a SEPTA turnstile and making contact with a uninformed SEPTA employee.

Gun Possession

In Pennsylvania, people who are eligible under the law to carry firearms may do so only after they’ve obtained the proper permits, whether as a private citizen for self-defense, or as an individual who needs to carry a firearm for their job.
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It’s imperative to obtain the required licensure or permits prior to purchasing a firearm or a person may find themselves charged with a felony of the third degree, and a misdemeanor of the first degree. Although it doesn’t sound like it, these charges can be a best-case scenario. If a person has a prior felony conviction, they may be charged with a felony of the second or first degree and can face up to twenty years of incarceration. Gun charges are taken very seriously in the city of Philadelphia. Depending on your prior record (or lack thereof), you will definitely need an experienced attorney in your defense to help secure the most favorable outcome, ranging from dismissal of all charges, probation, or a period of incarceration. This is why you need an attorney like Jules Szanto in your corner if facing gun charges.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

A DUI is a serious crime that is something that can happen to anyone, including an otherwise law-abiding citizen. Whether it’s one too many drinks at a friend’s party, which results in a higher-than-legal blood-alcohol limit or knowing that you’ve had too many and making the poor decision to get behind the wheel, if you’re charged with a DUI an experienced defense attorney is vital to help navigate the legal process.

Depending on the substance in your blood, whether alcohol or drugs, whether it’s a first, second, third, or subsequent offense, the penalties for a DUI (if convicted) vary greatly. They can range from the first-time offender who had one drink too many at a social event, who may be eligible for diversionary programs as a means of keeping their record clean, to a second or third time offender who may be facing stiff penalties including up to five years incarceration, loss of license, and heavy fines.

A routine traffic stop, such as failure to signal, can turn into a DUI investigation. Even if a person doesn’t believe they’re intoxicated at the time of the investigation, and a police officer asks for a blood sample, that person may still be charged with a DUI if there are any trace amounts of a controlled substance (like marijuana) in their blood. Again, the penalties for this are serious, which is why it’s important to consult with an attorney to stay informed about your rights when charged with a DUI, or when questioned by police regarding suspicion of DUI.

Robbery

Robbery is a serious crime in the city of Philadelphia. Whether done with a weapon or “forced however slight,” robbery is a felony in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania that can carry up to twenty years incarceration. Put very simply, a robbery is defined as the use of force to aid a person in the commission of a theft.

Even something as seemingly innocuous as snatching a person’s cell phone out of their hand qualifies as a robbery as a felony of the third degree, and if convicted an individual can face up to seven years in prison.

Robbery is a unique charge in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania because it qualifies as a “strike.” If a person is convicted in Pennsylvania of a crime of violence and had a prior conviction for a crime of violence (such as robbery), the minimum sentence imposed can be ten years. This is one of the reasons that robbery charges are so serious. An individual charged with robbery not only needs to think about the penalty if convicted for that robbery but how their past and prior record may influence or enhance that penalty under Pennsylvania’s “Three Strikes” law. Jules Szanto has successfully tried and defended countless robbery cases and is the experienced attorney you should call if you’re facing these charges.

Burglary

Just like robbery, burglary is considered under Pennsylvania’s three strike system. Burglary is considered a “crime of violence,” and can count as a “strike” if convicted. Depending on the circumstances, burglary can be graded as a felony of the first or second degree. In general, burglary is defined “if a person enters a building or occupied structure with the specific intent to commit a crime inside.” The person must have the specific intent to commit a crime at the time he or she enters. One cannot be charged with a burglary if they are lawfully in a place which is open to the public and then forms the intent to commit a crime. Regardless of the circumstances, if you’re charged with a serious crime like burglary, you need the representation of an experienced attorney like Jules Szanto.

Trespass

A person commits the offense of trespass if, knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters, or surreptitiously remains in any occupied building or structure or separately secured or occupied portion thereof. Simply put, criminal trespass is being on someone else’s property without permission. Depending on the circumstances, it can be graded as a felony of the second or third degree, and an individual can face up to ten years incarceration.

In addition to all of the above defined offenses, Jules Szanto is experienced in the following areas:

  • Theft of property
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Family law
  • Juvenile criminal defense
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Arbitration and mediation