Philadelphia Violent Crimes Lawyer
Violent crimes often carry consequences that will haunt you for the rest of your life. After a violent crime conviction, not only will you face the legal penalties for those crimes, you may also spend the rest of your life struggling to outrun your past. Were you accused of a violent crime? Contact The Zeiger Firm today at (215) 546-0340.
Types of Violent Crimes
Violent crimes include a wide range of different types of crimes, and the penalties may vary accordingly.
In a murder, the murderer deliberately plans and executes the death of another person. Many states offer different classifications of murder based on the forethought and effort put into the crime. For example:
- First degree murder: First degree murder includes “willful, deliberate, and premeditated murder.” First degree murder includes making the decision to murder someone, planning how to go about it, and then executing those actions. First degree murder may also result from another type of premeditated crime, including both arson and rape.
- Second degree murder: Typically, second degree murder includes a willful disregard for life. In the case of second degree murder, however, the murderer did not necessarily plan out the murder ahead of time or intend for death to result from his actions.
- Third degree murder: In the case of third degree murder, the murderer intended to cause bodily harm, but did not necessarily intend for those actions to result in death. For example, the defendant might have chosen to assault the other party, but not to assault them to the point of death. If the person died, the responsible party may face third degree murder charges.
Manslaughter occurs when one human takes another human’s life, but not necessarily through meditation or forethought. In the case of manslaughter, the criminal might intend to harm the other individual, not necessarily to kill them. Other times, circumstances may change the situation, causing the responsible party to take the other’s life.
Vehicular manslaughter occurs when a person uses a vehicle to kill another person. A person might face vehicular manslaughter charges for a drunk driving accident that results in the death of another. The individual might also face vehicular manslaughter charges if they drive distracted, whether by a cell phone or by extreme distractions inside the vehicle; or if they choose to ignore the laws of the road with reckless disregard for the safety of other drivers on the road.
Rape causes significant bodily harm and violation to the victim. Females make up 90 percent of adult rape survivors, but males can also suffer sexual assault or rape. Every 92 seconds across the United States, someone falls victim to rape or sexual assault. In fact, approximately 1 out of 6 women admit that they have suffered sexual assault in their lifetime. Rape can cause victims to suffer symptoms of PTSD or leave them struggling to return to their ordinary lives after the attack. Some victims experience an ongoing sense of shame that stays with them throughout their daily lives.
Sexual assault spans a wider variety of crimes than rape alone. In the case of sexual assault, the perpetrator may force unwanted sexual contact on the victim without penetration taking place. This may include genital or anal contact as well as contact with the breasts in women. Sexual assault often causes a feeling of shame in the victim, who may decline to report the assault for a period of time, especially with no proof. The threat of sexual assault can be prosecuted even if no actual sexual contact occurred.
Kidnapping or Abduction
Kidnapping and abduction include the unlawful transport and confinement of an individual against their will. In many cases, prosecutors may use the term “kidnapping” to refer to a juvenile victim, while abduction may refer to adults. In many serious cases, abduction includes an intent to harm or kill the abducted party. Kidnapping charges do not necessarily involve snatching a child off the street. Some people face kidnapping charges after removing a child from their former spouse’s custody. Others may attempt to restrain another adult or remove them from a location against their will.
In an assault, you inflict physical harm or undesired physical contact on another individual. Assault charges may arise from a fight, even if one party tried not to get involved. Simply walking up and punching someone can earn you assault charges, as can any other violent act against another party. Threatening assault, especially in a way that makes the other person genuinely believe in the threat to themselves, can also result in an assault charge.
Assault With a Deadly Weapon
In addition to simple assault charges, assault with a deadly weapon can carry increased penalties. In the case of an assault with a deadly weapon, the defendant allegedly attempts to harm someone with a weapon that could also kill them. Many times, in the case of assault with a deadly weapon, the victim suffers serious damage. The victim may also fear for his life during that assault. Threatening someone with a deadly weapon can also receive the classification of assault with a deadly weapon, along with the associated penalties.
Robberies often result in more than just financial and emotional harm to the victim. In many cases, face-to-face robberies begin with the threat of bodily harm or with actual bodily harm to the victim. In other cases, a robber may break into a home or office assumed empty, only to discover a person inside. In some cases, the robber may then threaten or harm the victim, leading to a violent criminal charge.
When you put someone else in severe danger of significant bodily harm, you may face endangerment charges. This includes situations in which the other individual could not consent to your decision to place them in danger. In the case of endangerment of a minor, endangerment includes minors who might have given consent to the action that placed them in danger. You may face endangerment charges for reckless driving that ignores the rules of the road, driving while intoxicated, or taking someone to a place that could cause significant physical harm. Endangerment charges do not require an actual injury to the other party.
Forcing someone to give you something through the use of threats or violence constitutes extortion. You do not necessarily have to physically harm someone; if the individual submits out of fear, you may face extortion charges. Extortion may include actively harming a person who does not cooperate with your demands. You need not demand money for the crime to count as extortion; you could also extort someone for protection, housing, use of a vehicle or home, or anything else the other party does not wish to give, but which you threaten them to obtain.
When you harass another person, you force your company and presence on them without their consent. Generally, harassment includes embarrassment or makes the other person feel demeaned in some way. You can harass someone electronically by constantly forcing them to accept your text messages, phone calls, or emails. Online harassment may demean someone or call negative attention to them. In some cases, harassment could include constantly messaging another individual or posting private information across the internet.
Workplace harassment, on the other hand, could include the suggestion that an individual who does not put up with certain advances or comments should expect to lose their job, forcing a particular employee to put up with tasks that no one else needs to do in spite of the fact that those tasks are not in their job description, or belittling or threatening a specific group of workers. The broad range of behaviors included in harassment make it easy for someone to build a harassment case, especially against someone with malicious intent.
Typically, domestic violence defines a violent act against someone you live with. Domestic violence usually extends to your spouse, children, parents, and other relatives sharing your home; however, in some cases, you may receive a domestic violence charge for violent actions against a roommate.
In Pennsylvania, if the police have to interfere in an altercation between you and a member of your household that has turned physical, you may face domestic violence charges. The injured party may not have the right to revoke those charges against you; however, a spouse does not have to speak against you in court. In some cases, the police may investigate you for domestic violence over bruises or other marks on someone in your household, loud arguments reported by the neighbors, or evidence of ongoing altercations in the household.
The Potential Consequences of Violent Crime Conviction
Sometimes, good people get carried away in the heat of the moment, leading to violent crime convictions that could impact them for the rest of their lives. In other cases, repeated violent acts could carry even harsher criminal penalties. If you face conviction for a violent crime, you may see your life changed forever. Penalties may include:
Though Pennsylvania has been asked to throw out the death penalty, the federal government allows it, and some violent criminals in Pennsylvania can still receive a death sentence for state charges. Few people in Pennsylvania have ever received the death penalty, but it remains a serious concern for many perpetrators of violent crimes.
The duration of a prison sentence for violent crime will depend on the extent of the crime. A misdemeanor, or more mild crime, may carry less prison time than a felony. Any time at all behind bars for a violent crime, however, can limit your freedoms and leave you struggling to return to normal life before the crime.
In some cases, violent crimes may result in significant fines, which you must pay to the court. Often, these fines limit your financial freedoms long after the criminal charges and may result in the need to sell possessions or make other sacrifices.
In some cases, the court may require you to make restitution to the injured party. Sometimes, the court will require financial restitution: a certain amount of money paid to the individual due to their injuries or losses. In other cases, the courts may look for a more creative way to restore or repair the harm done: fixing up a store after a robbery, for example.
The consequences of a violent crime do not end with the courtroom. In some cases, you may face long-lasting repercussions that go well beyond prison time. With a violent crime on your record, you may struggle to find some types of employment. Some employers have specific ethics policies, while others simply do not wish to hire a criminal.
When convicted of a violent crime, especially domestic violence, you may lose custody of your children. Relationships may also suffer during prison time. You may struggle to build future relationships following a violent crime conviction. Violent crimes can impact you in every area of your life, making it critical that you have the legal representation you need following a violent crime accusation.
Do You Need a Philadelphia Violent Crimes Attorney?
If you were accused of a violent crime, do not rely on a public defender to provide the support you need. Both state and federal laws have strict penalties for criminals convicted of violent crimes—not to mention the consequences those crimes can have in other areas of your life. If you face violent crime charges, you need an attorney who will fight to protect your freedoms and minimize the consequences you face.
At The Zeiger Firm, we fight hard to ensure that our clients get the quality legal representation they need to protect their freedoms, avoid fines, and decrease the penalties often associated with violent crimes. Contact us today at (215) 546-0340 to learn more.