Philadelphia Municipal Court Lawyers and Misdemeanor Defense Attorneys



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Pre-Trial Diversion in the Philadelphia Municipal Court

In many cases, we have been able to help clients avoid any type of permanent record by obtaining entry into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program ("ARD"). ARD is a pre-trial diversionary program which often allows a defendant with no prior criminal record to pay a fine, complete community service, serve a short period of unsupervised probation, and then have all of the charges from the case dismissed and expunged. ARD is typically offered only in misdemeanor cases. However, on occasion, we have even been able to obtain ARD for felony defendants with particularly deserving circumstances, as well. ARD can be expensive, but when offered, it does provide a guarantee that the case and criminal record will go away. There are also a number of other pre-trial diversionary programs which can help to avoid a permanent criminal record including the Accelerated Misdemeanor Program ("AMP"), The Choice Is Yours, and Drug Treatment Court. 

When the defendant is not eligible for ARD or other pre-trial diversionary programs, we have been extremely successful in defending misdemeanor charges both at trial in the Philadelphia Municipal Court or through pre-trial motions such as Motions to Suppress or Speedy Trial motions. 

Philadelphia Misdemeanor Criminal Defense Attorneys

We represent clients charged with misdemeanors in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties such as Delaware, Bucks, Chester, and Montgomery counties. In Philadelphia, misdemeanor cases proceed through the Philadelphia Municipal Court. The Municipal Court has its own unique set of both official and unofficial Rules of Criminal Procedure which may not be familiar to to an inexperienced defense lawyer or a lawyer who does not regularly appear in Philadelphia. For example, failing to make a "Preston" objection when the Commonwealth makes a continuance request could inadvertently result in the waiver of a defendant's speedy trial rights. 

Philadelphia Municipal Court Defense Attorneys

Philadelphia Municipal Court Defense Attorneys

In Philadelphia, misdemeanor cases (and first-offense felony charges for Possession with the Intent to Deliver of marijuana) are heard by a judge in the Municipal Court, who will rule on pre-trial motions and hear the trial. However, because there is no right to a jury trial in the Philadelphia Municipal Court, every defendant convicted of a crime in the Municipal Court has the right to appeal to the Court of Common Pleas for a trial de novo with either a Common Pleas judge or a jury. When the defendant elects to take a trial de novo within 30 days following conviction in the Municipal Court, the conviction is set aside as if it never happened and the defendant receives a brand new trial. 

In the counties surrounding Philadelphia, misdemeanor charges proceed along the same track as a felony charge. Each defendant is entitled to a preliminary hearing in front of a Magisterial District Justice. If the Magisterial District Justice finds that a prima facie case exists that the defendant committed the crime, then the defendant will be held for court and the case will be sent to the Court of Common Pleas for pre-trial conferences, motions, and eventually for trial. Although a defendant in a Philadelphia Municipal Court case may in effect elect to have two trials due to the trial de novo rule, a defendant in the suburban counties cannot. 

Penalties for Misdemeanor Convictions in Pennsylvania

Although misdemeanor charges are less likely to carry jail time, a conviction can lead to a permanent criminal record and devastating consequences for an individual's ability to obtain employment. Some misdemeanor sex offenses, such as Indecent Assault (M2), can even carry 15-years or more of Megan's Law/SORNA registration, and others such as Driving Under the Influence ("DUI"), require strict mandatory minimum sentences of incarceration. 

Award-Winning Philadelphia Criminal Lawyers

If you or a loved one are charged with a misdemeanor in Philadelphia or the surrounding counties, you need an experienced Philadelphia misdemeanor and Municipal Court criminal defense attorney who knows the system and how to get results through both negotiation and at trial. We have extensive experience with these types of misdemeanor charges and have obtained excellent outcomes for our clients. We have handled hundreds, if not thousands, of these cases. Call 267-225-2545 now for a complimentary 15-minute criminal defense strategy session with one of our Philadelphia criminal lawyers and to begin planning your defense today.