Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
When you need an attorney, contact Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Brian J. Zeiger. The Pennsylvania defense attorneys at The Zeiger Firm offer high-quality legal representation to people in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware, and Chester Counties and throughout the entire state of Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys at The Zeiger Firm are committed to defending every client zealously, providing the highest quality personalized criminal defense services, and obtaining the best results possible in every case. The Philadelphia criminal lawyers at The Zeiger Firm will guide you through the court system and fight bring your case to its best possible outcome. When pleading guilty is not an option, call us. To arrange a consultation, please give us a call at (215) 546-0340 or send us an email via our contact form.
Representing Individuals Accused of Drug Crimes
Pennsylvania has strict laws regarding controlled substances. Possessing even the smallest amount of an illegal drug or a prescription drug without a valid prescription can result in serious consequences if you are convicted. Even possessing trace amounts of drugs or drug paraphernalia can result in an arrest and criminal charges. These charges can range from a misdemeanor (in cases involving smaller amounts of marijuana) to a felony that may result in 15 years behind bars.
If you are suspected of possessing a larger amount of an illegal substance or if certain other circumstances exist, the prosecutor may charge you with possession with the intent to distribute drugs. This is a more severe offense and a conviction can mean extended imprisonment and costly fines.
The specific penalties you face for any drug crime will depend on the type and amount of drug involved, whether you have prior drug-related convictions, and whether any aggravating circumstances, such as possession or distribution near a school, exist. The Zeiger Firm knows that there are many ways to defend against different drug charges, including Fourth Amendment violations or lack of knowledge of the drugs. Please call today if you were arrested and accused of any type of drug crime.
Pennsylvania also has some of the strictest gun control laws in the United States, with licensing requirements for concealed carry and permit requirements for open carry in the city of Philadelphia. The state can disqualify you from purchasing or possessing a firearm for any of the following reasons:
- You have a conviction for a violent offense (whether it is a misdemeanor or felony)
- A court has declared you mentally ill
- You are an undocumented immigrant
- You are younger than 18
- You are a fugitive from justice
- You are a habitual drunkard or drug addict
- You have three or more separate DUI convictions in a five-year span
- You have a protective order issued against you
In addition, firearm laws in Pennsylvania ban certain types of firearms or weapons from ever being sold, purchased, or possessed by civilians. If any of the above criteria applies to you, if you are in possession of a firearm without the necessary permit or license, or if you are suspected of possessing a banned weapon, you can face serious criminal charges.
The Zeiger Firm defends against charges of illegal gun possession and also defends against charges of other offenses that involved a firearm. For example, criminal charges for assault, robbery, or similar crimes can substantially escalate if a firearm was allegedly involved. In such cases, you need aggressive criminal defense representation you can trust.
You may associate assault charges with a bar fight or another common altercation that results in a night in jail and then minimal consequences. However, Pennsylvania law sets out serious penalties for assault charges—whether or not any injury actually occurs. Assault can involve intentionally causing injury, attempting to cause injury, or even using physical menace to put someone in fear of injury.
Assault can be categorized as simple assault, which is a misdemeanor, or as aggravated assault, which is a felony. In either case, the potential penalties for a conviction can mean a jail sentence and thousands of dollars in fines. In assault cases involving serious injuries to a victim, you could face first-degree felony charges, which can mean 20 years in prison. Even simple assault cases where no actual injury occurred can result in up to five years behind bars.
Self-defense is the most common defense against assault charges, but this defense is difficult to employ. It takes a skilled criminal defense attorney to successfully prove a self-defense claim because of the many restrictions on the right to self-defense. It is much more complicated than simply claiming you were afraid of harm, and the team at The Zeiger Firm can advise you whether self-defense is a possible claim in your case. No matter what type of situation led to your assault charges, make the first call after your arrest to an attorney who has experience defending against allegations of violent crimes.
Helping People Accused of DUI
Driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the most commonly charged crimes in Pennsylvania. Many people know someone who was arrested for DUI and, perhaps for this reason, too many people don’t consider this type of case a big deal. This is a mistake, however, as a DUI conviction can damage your life.
When you are arrested and charged with DUI, the state will immediately suspend your driver’s license. The good news is that you can appeal this suspension, though the bad news is that you have a very limited amount of time to do so. Enlist the help of a skilled criminal defense lawyer who knows how to handle the administrative appeal of your license suspension.
In addition, many people simply plead guilty to DUI charges because they believe it may be easier than retaining an attorney. However, a DUI conviction can result in extensive fines—and even time in jail, depending on the circumstances. A conviction can also result in many additional consequences to your life, including an impact on your current job and future employment prospects. For this reason, you want to hire a law firm that will do everything possible to avoid a conviction on your record and to mitigate any penalties you face.
Just because you pled guilty to a crime or were convicted at trial does not mean that the legal process is over and the conviction is final. Both Pennsylvania and federal laws provide the rights to various types of appeals of criminal convictions, which is important because the state can violate the rights of defendants in ways that result in wrongful convictions.
If your defense attorney provided inadequate assistance and you pled guilty as the result of poor or insufficient advice about the implications of your guilty plea, you may appeal to set aside that guilty plea and seek a new resolution in your case. We can also review your case to see if the court made an error that qualifies you to appeal—whether at a guilty plea or a jury trial.
You must follow specific, complicated appeals procedures to fully protect your rights. You need an experienced criminal appeals lawyer to handle your case so you have the best chance possible of overturning your wrongful conviction.
A significant number of offenses under Pennsylvania law are considered sex crimes. Some of these offenses include:
- Possession or distribution of child pornography
- Lewd or lascivious conduct
- Indecent exposure
- Child molestation
- Sexual assault
- Sexual battery
All of these offenses come with harsh consequences that may damage your life for years to come. Not only can a sex crime conviction result in a long prison term and extensive fines, but Megan’s Law requires that individuals register as sex offenders with the state of Pennsylvania. This sex offender registry is available to the public online and can leave a seriously negative impact on your personal and professional reputation and opportunities. Hire an effective defense against sex crime charges to limit the lasting penalties of such a conviction.
Our attorneys understand the stigma that comes with sex crime charges and we know that people accused of such offenses may not want to discuss their situations. However, our attorneys pass no judgment on our clients and will zealously work to defend your rights if you are accused of a sex offense.
Defending the Rights of People Accused of Murder
After a death, a Philadelphia prosecutor may issue a variety of charges against a suspect, including different degrees of manslaughter or murder. The following is a brief overview of the homicide offenses against which our firm can defend:
- Homicide by vehicle charges can result if the violation of a traffic law led to the death of another person.
- Homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence is an enhanced charge that applies when an intoxicated driver causes the death of another person.
- Involuntary manslaughter charges come when a death results from another person’s reckless or grossly negligent conduct but not the specific intent to kill.
- Voluntary manslaughter charges can result when a person is accused of killing someone under an intense and sudden passion that the victim provoked.
- First-degree murder refers to the intentional killing of another person and is the most serious of all homicide charges.
- Second-degree murder charges can result when another person died while the accused was committing or assisting in the commission of another felony offense.
- Third-degree murder refers to all other types of murder.
No matter what type of homicide charge you face, you run the risk of a serious felony conviction and many years in state prison. Anyone accused of killing another person needs the best possible defense. Our law firm will dedicate all the necessary resources to protecting your rights in any type of murder case.
Many different offenses that involve taking another person’s property are considered theft crimes. Someone can physically steal it, use fraudulent or deceptive tactics, or use force. In any event, theft offenses can result in penalties that often depend on the amount of property stolen and the tactics used to commit the offense.
Robbery is an escalated theft offense, because it inherently involves the use of force or threat of force to take property. Robbery charges can result if any of the following circumstances existed during a theft:
- Any amount of force—even slight force—to physically take something from another person
- Threats to cause injury or cause someone to fear serious injury
- Serious injury
- Threats to commit or actually commit another second or first-degree felony during the course of the theft
- Robbery by verbally or in writing demanding money from an employee at a financial institution
Robbery charges can also escalate if serious injury resulted or if a deadly weapon or instrument was used or threatened.
Burglary is often associated with theft crimes, but it does not always have to involve stealing. Instead, burglary involves entering a dwelling or other structure without permission with the intent to commit a crime inside the building. In many cases, the intended crime may be theft, but it can be any type of offense.
Whether you are charged with theft, robbery, or burglary, make your first call to a lawyer who has experience defending against these types of allegations. Call The Zeiger Firm today.
A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You
In addition to the above specific offenses, the skilled criminal defense team at The Zeiger Firm can also assist with:
- Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) and diversion programs
- Bail reduction
- Domestic violence
- Juvenile offenses
- Underage drinking
- Sentencing and mandatory minimums
- White collar crimes
- Federal charges
Protecting Your Rights Throughout the Entire Criminal Process
Criminal defendants have many rights, and The Zeiger Firm works zealously to protect them during the criminal process. We work to uphold your rights:
- Against unreasonable search or seizure
- To remain silent
- To have an attorney during all custodial interrogations
- To fair bail
- Against self-incrimination
- To a speedy trial
- To a public jury trial
- Against double jeopardy
As soon as you are arrested, police should inform you of your Miranda rights, which include the right to remain silent and the right to representation by an attorney. You do not have to undergo police questioning without an attorney present, and our criminal defense lawyer can come to represent you as soon as possible after you contact our office. Hiring an experienced attorney can ensure that you do not feel compelled to make any statements against your own interests or that you do not unintentionally say something that a prosecutor may use against you.
We will continue to protect your rights throughout your entire case, including at bail hearings, motion hearings, settlement conferences, and if necessary, trial and sentencing. You can count on our team to identify any possible violations of your rights and use them in your favor whenever possible.
Identifying All Possible Legal Defenses
We may present many legal defenses in a criminal case—the specific defenses available to you depend on the nature of your charges and the circumstances of the alleged crime. Some defenses can include:
- Lack of intent to commit the crime
- Lack of knowledge of the crime
- Evidence was gathered in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights
- Your traffic stop or arrest was unlawful
- Identification procedures were overly prejudicial
- An alibi
- Exculpatory evidence
- The inaccuracy of forensic lab tests or other evidence submitted by the prosecutor
We will closely examine your case, conduct our own investigation, interview witnesses, and take any other steps necessary to present an effective defense against your charges. The sooner we can begin working on your case, the better, so please do not hesitate to call today.
Not every criminal defendant wants to fight against the charges—and in some situations, the overwhelming evidence against a defendant may require a qualified criminal defense lawyer to engage in plea bargaining with the prosecutor. Plea bargaining involves negotiating with a prosecutor to reduce your charges and your sentence in exchange for your agreement to plead guilty and avoid a trial. Our team can present many factors in favor of a plea bargain, including:
- The lack of a criminal history
- The minor nature of certain offenses
- The willingness to agree to certain conditions of probation
- A minor role in the offense
A plea bargain may help you avoid jail time and instead give you a chance at probation. In addition, we can determine whether you are eligible for any diversion programs or ARD to help you avoid a conviction on your record.
Representing You at Trial
If we cannot reach a favorable plea bargain or if you were wrongfully accused of a crime, our team will not hesitate to represent you at a jury trial. Rest assured that we will prepare as thoroughly as necessary to protect your rights. Jury trials require following many different procedures to fully present your case. Our courtroom experience allows us to effectively represent our clients throughout the entire trial process.
We are skilled at all of the following stages of a jury trial:
- Pretrial motion practice
- Jury selection
- Opening statements
- Cross-examination of the prosecutor’s witnesses
- Objecting to any evidence or statements that violate the rules of evidence
- Questioning and re-questioning of witnesses in your favor
- Presenting exculpatory evidence
- Challenging the veracity of the prosecutor’s evidence
- Closing arguments
- Ensuring the law and instructions provided to the jury are accurate
A criminal trial is a complex proceeding with a lot on the line—often including your freedom. You want to make sure your attorney has experience at trial and knows how to stand up for your rights throughout the entire process.
If you are convicted at trial, our attorneys can represent you at sentencing to ensure you do not receive an overly harsh sentence, and prepare the proper appeals of your conviction.
The above are only some of the many benefits that the right criminal defense representation can provide. The Zeiger Firm in Philadelphia knows to thoroughly evaluate every criminal case on an individual basis to best identify the possible ways we can defend against your charges. We provide personalized attention in every case—whether it is a DUI or murder charge. We understand all of the possible implications of your charges and can advise you of your rights at every stage of your case.
You may feel tempted to try to handle your case on your own in an effort to save money. However, having a skilled lawyer on your side can actually save you money in the long run. A criminal conviction can involve fines, court costs, and restitution. In addition, if you are sentenced to jail, you will likely lose your job and the financial implications can prove disastrous for your household. Because we work diligently to limit the penalties in your case, we can often save our clients money in the long run. Calling a criminal defense attorney for assistance with your charges is never a mistake. We are waiting to assist you.
Call Brian Zeiger Today to Speak with a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are accused of a crime in the Philadelphia area, retain an attorney as soon as you can. Attorney Brian Zeiger is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who is committed to protecting the rights of the accused. He knows how to work with prosecutors to obtain a favorable plea agreement and is not hesitant to take a case to trial if justice demands it. To schedule a consultation with Brian Zeiger, call our office today at (215) 546-0340 or send us an email through our online contact form.