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Central Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Legal Blog

First prosecution under bump stock ban reportedly takes place

A bump stock is a device that allows a semiautomatic rifle in Pennsylvania to mimic the firing capability of a machine gun. Over a year ago, the government issued a new regulation banning ownership, possession or use of bump stocks following several high-profile mass shooting incidents.

The bump stock ban went into effect in March of this year following an unsuccessful attempt to challenge it in the Supreme Court. Approximately six months later, authorities in Texas have brought the first charges in the country related to bump stock possession since the ban went into effect. 

Are designated drivers a safe option?

If you are headed out for a night on the town, you may have designated a driver who will sustain from drinking and ensure everyone in your group gets home safely. While this may seem like a good game plan and a safe option to keep drivers you from drinking and driving, it is not always fool-proof. In fact, studies show that even designated drivers are not completely sober and may put others at risk of becoming involved in a drunk driving accident

A study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that as many as 40% of designated drivers are not sober when they get behind the wheel to drive their friends home. Of those intoxicated designated drivers, approximately 18% had a blood alcohol content level of at least 0.05 or higher. 

Possible psychological explanation for hot car deaths

Every year, about three dozen children in the United States, including Pennsylvania, die because their parents left them behind in a hot car. The children in these cases are often less than two years old, too young to understand what is going on or to alert parents to their presence in the vehicle. 

According to the New York Times, approximately 43% of parents whose children die in hot cars face criminal charges. Once charged, a parent's chances of conviction are approximately three to one. Depending on the jurisdiction and the facts of the case, the charges can range from misdemeanor charges like child endangerment to felony charges of involuntary manslaughter. 

Fatal overdose charges most prevalent in 2 Pennsylvania counties

When someone dies as a result of a drug overdose, the individual(s) who supplied the drugs can face felony charges. The names of the charges and the consequences vary by jurisdiction. In Pennsylvania, the term for the charge is "drug delivery resulting in death." According to a Florida-based analytics company, two counties in Pennsylvania have the highest number of drug delivery resulting in death charges in the entire nation. 

In 2018, authorities in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, charged 75 people with drug delivery resulting in death. This was the highest incidence of such charges in the country according to a study conducted in partnership with the Health in Justice Action Lab at Northeastern University and the Florida-based Lumina Analytics company. York County, also in Pennsylvania, came in second place with 45 charges of drug delivery resulting in death. Of the top 10 counties nationwide charging people with drug-induced homicide offenses, Pennsylvania counties make up seven altogether. 

What is the walk and turn test?

If you are like most people in Pennsylvania, you have seen plenty of movies or television shows in which a person is asked to perform different tests by a police officer in order to determine if the person was drunk while driving. Commonly referred to as field sobriety tests, there are three different tests that are standardized for use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, it is important to note that these tests do not and cannot prove that a driver is intoxicated. They can only indicate that a driver might be intoxicated.

One of the tests is called the walk and turn test. As explained by FieldSobrietyTests.org, it requires the driver to take nine steps forward along a straight line, turn around and take nine steps back along the same line to the original starting position. A person may be deemed to have failed this test if they step off the line at any time, use their arms to help them maintain their balance or even pause momentarily. Steps must be taken in a heel-to-toe fashion.

How can I approach job hunting with a criminal record?

If you are like a lot of people in Pennsylvania who have had some type of brush with the law, one of the concerns on your mind is how you can get your life back on a more positive track. Finding a good job is one part of doing this. In today's world, it is very common for companies to run pre-employment background checks on job candidates before they finalize a job offer and hire a person. This means your criminal record is likely to be discovered by a potential employer. However, this does not mean you cannot still get a job.

Glassdoor recommends that one thing you should do is to run your own background check. This will give you insight into what level of detail a company might actually receive when they run a background check. Armed with this information, you can prepare how to discuss the information with them. It is important that you have this conversation proactively before they discover anything on their own, yet you do not want to offer details too soon in the process.

Detailing how alcohol gets into your lungs

If there is one image that has become the universal symbol of drunk driving, it is a person standing on the side of the road blowing into a hand-held breath measurement device. You are likely aware that in most states (Pennsylvania included) the legal blood-alcohol content limit is .08. Yet one question that many who come to see us here at the Marros Law Office have after having been arrested for driving under the influence is why do authorities rely on the breath measurement to determine the alcohol content in the blood? 

The answer requires knowing exactly how it is that the alcohol you ingest gets into your bloodstream (and eventually, your lungs). The Alcohol Pharmacology Education Partnership tells us that the type of alcohol found in drinks is ethanol. Ethanol is water-soluble, which means that after you have ingested it, its molecules can permeate the lining of the organs of your digestive tract through a process known as passive diffusion. Once it has penetrated the walls of these organs, it enters the bloodstream and is carried throughout your body. 

What is an accidental firearm discharge?

As a Pennsylvanian resident and a gun owner, you know that practicing gun safety is the key to avoiding injuries, incidents and breaking the law. However, some may argue that accidents can happen regardless of your intentions. What should you know about accidental firearm discharge? Can you still get in trouble for misfires? Is an accidental discharge considered negligence?

FindLaw defines accidental firearm discharge as any incident in which a gun goes off without the wielder intending for this to happen. These incidents occur for numerous reasons. A person may believe that the gun is not loaded. They may point it somewhere that they don't intend to shoot and accidentally graze the trigger. They may simply not understand how the gun functions well enough to handle it safely.

What are straw purchases?

In Pennsylvania, there are certain laws in effect regarding the purchase, selling, handling and possession of firearms. Due to their dangerous nature, if you break these laws, you could face serious consequences. Today, Marros Law Office examines one such potential offense: straw purchases.

What is a straw purchase? In short, it's an act in which one party buys a firearm on behalf of a party who is legally disallowed from purchasing guns for themselves. In essence, you're acting as the "strawman". Not all straw purchases are illegal. In fact, there are entire industries based around agencies or individuals who buy items on another person's behalf.

Mandatory license suspensions eliminated

People in Pennsylvania who are convicted of criminal drug offenses can often face extensive challenges trying to rehabilitate and rebuild their lives. Unfortunately, there are times when the laws get in the way of allowing that to happen. An example of this is the requirement that any person who is convicted of a drug crime will lose their driver's license for at least six months. 

This law has been in place since a 1994 federal regulation went into effect that mandated this. If states did not comply with this regulation, they would lose substantial and important federal funding for highways. Sadly, this has resulted in far too many people losing their licenses even if their drug offenses had nothing to do with driving. The lack of being able to drive can impede a person's ability to keep an existing job or find a new job, making it difficult to recover from a criminal experience.

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York, PA 17401

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