Work Release in Bedford County, Pennsylvania

Work release (or "outmate") is a jail sentence where you are allowed to go to work each day, but otherwise you stay at a county jail. In all the counties in Pennsylvania where I've represented clients, the theory is the same: keeping people working is a better idea than just having them sit in jail. How they accomplish that can vary a fair amount.

This article is how work release happens in Bedford County, Pennsylvania at the Bedford County Prison.

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"Chasing Heroin" on Frontline - watch it

Heroin is a major issue in York County. I work with more and more clients and families affected by it. Tonight, PBS ran an episode of "Frontline" called "Chasing Heroin".

It is an excellent and unflinching look at the problem, various efforts to deal with it, and the reality of people on all sides of the equation: addicts, cops, judges, social workers, and defense lawyers. I can vouch for the authenticity of all of it. Click through for the link to the show online.

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Renegade! Pittsburgh Steelers assistant coach Joey Porter learns about "Status Based Aggravated Assault"

Joey Porter, former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker and current linebacker coach, found himself in hot water following a Steelers playoff win over the Miami Dolphins. Despite the video evidence, the crime scene in Pittsburgh Sunday night was not surrounding the chalk outline of Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore's body after Bud Dupree crushed him with a huge hit. Instead, the police blotter was filled up by Peezy (Porter) after he allegedly tried to enter a Pittsburgh bar about four hours after the Steelers walloped the Dolphins.

So, the question we're all wondering is whether Porter is in fear for his life from the long arm of the law?

 

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Can you get unemployment if your employer fires you for getting a DUI?

I often represent clients who need to be able to drive in order to keep working. Usually, my clients fall into one of these categories:

  • Need a license to drive to work (commute)
  • Drive an employer vehicle at work and need a "good driving record"
  • They have a Commercial Drivers License ("CDL") and drive a tractor trailer or other large vehicle.

Often, I work with clients whose boss will find out that they got a DUI in their personal vehicle on personal time. The boss decides to fire my client. Then, in addition to all the problems of having a criminal case pending for the DUI, the client has lost their job and income.

To make matters worse, sometimes when my clients file for unemployment the employer will file papers with the state to try to fight to keep my client from getting unemployment. 

What can I do to help my clients out?

 

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Relief from Delayed License Suspension

On March 30, 2016, the PA Commonwealth Court handed down a decision reversing the York County Court of Common Pleas and vacating a one-year license suspension on a DUI offense which was committed in 2004 but not submitted to PennDOT until 2014. The Court found that the 10-year delay prejudiced the Petitioner, and as a result her license should not be suspended.

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Combating the DRE - a class I am teaching for PaCDL

I am teaching a class to fellow members of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Pittsburgh on Friday, February 5, 2016. The topic is "Combating the DRE" which relates to Drug Recognition Evaluations. The class is part of an entire day of continuing legal education being provided to PaCDL members in western Pennsylvania. I was honored to be asked to present the topic to such a great group of defenders of liberty.

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Missing Dash Camera Video in DUI Case: Officer's Testimony Kept Out of Court

What happens when a police officer should have video and audio from his dash camera available for trial, but the evidence is not preserved? This is not a question of an equipment failure, but a situation where an officer simply does not follow department policy and does not preserve a video. I litigated and won this case in York County recently in the context of a DUI case where the defendant was stopped for minor equipment violations after he turned to avoid a DUI checkpoint. Here is the decision.

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NHTSA Study: Marijuana not linked to car crashes

Jacob Sullum does tremendous work over at Reason.  Recently, he wrote about a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") that analyzed the impact of marijuana on drivers and whether it tended to increase the likelihood that a driver would crash. The bottom line is that after accounting for demographic factors (age and gender, mostly), the NHTSA study could not isolate a scientifically valid relationship between using marijuana and an increased probability of getting into an accident.

That is really big news.

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Naloxone Available Without Prescription

Pennlive.com reports that CVS is making Naloxone available without a prescription in Pennsylvania. Naloxone is a drug that can reverse the effects of a painkiller or heroin overdose. For about $50.00 or less, families who are struggling with someone with an addiction can keep this in their house in case of an emergency. It comes in a form that is a nasal spray and one that is injectable.

If your family could benefit from this, you can, for the cost of a decent first aid kit, potentially have a tool on hand that could save the life of a loved one.

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Possession of Drugs - Possible impacts on your driver's license, your student aid, or professional license

Many of the clients I represent on DUI cases are also charged with possessing some form of drug, usually marijuana or pills that they got from someone else (Adderall, Xanax, etc.).  In addition to consequences from the DUI charge, they face problems related to possessing a drug that is either an "illegal" (Schedule I) drug or a drug that they do not have a valid prescription for.

While the penalties for possessing a drug are generally minimal (probation, usually), there are other major impacts that a guilty plea can have for those charges: license suspension, loss of financial aid, impacts on professional licenses (like nursing licenses), and more.

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