Criminal Law

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer

At the offices of Jensen Bagnato, P.C., a Professional Corporation, our team of criminal defense attorneys have many years of combined legal experience to criminal defendants in Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. We believe that every person is entitled to a strong and zealous defense, no matter what the nature of the crime or what you can pay. When you hire us to defend you, we will be there at your side every step of the way.

Contact our Philadelphia criminal law firm today to discuss your case. It is important to remember that you have rights that need to be protected.

Our Philadelphia Criminal Law Practice

We provide aggressive defense counsel to people charged with misdemeanors or felonies in state or federal court, including:

  • Drug Crimes. We serve those accused of possession, sale and distribution charges
  • DUI or Drunk Driving. This includes alcohol induced DUI, Ambien DUI and marijuana DUI
  • Juvenile Crimes. Including underage drinking, juvenile DUI and school crimes
  • Misdemeanors. Such as resisting arrest, assault and disorderly conduct
  • Sex Crimes. We defend people on a wide range of sex offenses, including all counts of rape
  • Violent Crimes. We protect people charged with homicide, or with any type of assault or battery
  • Tax crimes. Including tax evasion and fraud
  • Traffic Violations. Such as reckless driving, driving without insurance and suspended license
  • Theft Crimes. Such as larceny, robbery, burglary and shoplifting
  • Violent Crimes. Such as assault, gang crimes, homicide
  • White Collar Crimes

We handle credit card fraud, fraud, embezzlement, identity theft, money laundering and other white collar crimes, as well as Internet and computer based crimes.
If you have a prior conviction, we can help you determine whether your criminal record may be expunged, and if so, help you through the process. We represent individuals in probation and parole violation hearings, as well as bail and bond proceedings, and will act as your advocate in criminal appeal.

Protecting Your Rights in Bail and Bond Proceedings
If you have been charged with a crime, the court may set a bail bond hearing to determine whether you are a flight risk and require a bond to secure your attendance at trial. The amount of the bond is often totally at the discretion of the judge. To protect your interests, you want an experienced lawyer at your side, one who can help you demonstrate to the court that you are not a flight risk.

At the offices of Erik B. Jensen P.C., a Professional Corporation, our attorneys have protected the rights of men and women in criminal proceedings since 1984, including bail and bond hearings.

Pennsylvania Search And Seizure Laws

Our Constitution’s fourth amendment reads:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

This means is that the police are not allowed to search a person or seize any of their property or possessions without a warrant issued due to probable cause. The fourth amendment was constructed and put into place during colonial times before the United States achieved its independence from the British army. During this time, British soldiers would use a general warrant to come into the homes of the citizens and search as well as seize property as they saw fit. After achieving independence, however, United States lawmakers created the fourth amendment to protect citizens from these types of government invasions, disallowing law enforcement officials to search a person’s property without a warrant issued through probable cause.

Pennsylvania Probable Cause Laws

Probable cause law in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are not always clear or easy to interpret. Many times they present something that can be easily misconstrued in terms of the fourth amendment, but generally it refers to evidence or a surplus of reliable information that lead to a law enforcement officer having probable cause that a crime is being committed. Before searching or seizing property, a police officer must typically first obtain a warrant, however warrantless searches are lawful in some circumstances.

With probable cause, evidence or reliable information must be available, and police may not obtain a warrant or perform a search on a hunch that a crime may be committed.

Obtaining a warrant will often involve several steps, which will first involve a law enforcement official writing official statements under oath to be reviewed by a judge. The officer will write his reasons for probable cause in these statements, and the judge will then determine if enough reason exists to issue a warrant or an arrest, search, or seizure. Warrants will often have boundaries, however, and if a warrant allows a police officer to search a person’s home, for instance, he or she may not search their workplace as well unless the warrant allows them to do so.

Warrantless Searches, Seizures, And Arrests in Pennsylvania

Warrantless searches, seizures, and arrests are also sometimes lawful, and certain circumstance will allow an officer to perform a search, seizure, or arrest without first obtaining a warrant. In these warrantless searches or arrests, enough probable cause must be available to cause the action, and this will often include obvious evidence. One example would be a person drinking alcohol in a public park or on a public sidewalk, and being searched or arrested for doing so. The drinking of the alcohol in public is illegal, and doing so would warrant an arrest even if an official warrant has not been issued.

Typically, one of the following 4 situations could warrant a warrantless search, seizure, or arrest:

  1. An inmate in a prison or jail facility may be searched if a correctional officer has reasonable cause to do so. Also, they do not have a right to privacy in their cells, and these areas may be searched as well should an officer see fit.
  2. If a situation is determined to be urgent, meaning the person is question is at risk for fleeing or destroying evidence, a warrantless search or arrest may be lawfully executed.
  3. If a police officer or other law enforcement official makes a legal arrest, they are then lawfully able to search a person and their surrounding area. An example of this would be if a person was arrested while driving, the officer making the arrest can not only search them, but their vehicle as well.
  4. If a person has illegal materials in plain view of an officer, those materials may then be seized without an official warrant. This rule applies to controlled substances, firearms, and other illegal contraband, and a search is not considered to have taken place due to the objects being the view of the officer.

Unreasonable Searches And Seizures in Pennsylvania

If a search, seizure, or arrest is determined to be unreasonable and without a warrant, the evidence found from the incident may not be used against a defendant in a court of law. Such as in the case of Antoine Jones, who had the GPS tracking data deemed a violation of the fourth amendment, this will often lead to the overturning of charges due to lack of evidence. This is deemed the exclusionary rule, and a person may even then be able to pursue a lawsuit against an officer due to their violation of the fourth amendment if they should choose.

Due to public safety concerns, the exclusionary rule has faced some criticisms in recent years. In many instances, a police officer may only need to have a reasonable suspicion to perform a search, seizure, or arrest, rather than probable cause due to reliable information, but each individual situation will vary.

Skilled Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorneys

For those facing charges that may have stemmed from an illegal search and seizure as determined by the fourth amendment in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it is always recommended that an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney be sought. Contact The criminal defense team at The Law Office of Erik B. Jensen in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mr. Jensen and his staff will be able to determine if their client has been treated fairly in the eyes of the law, and that all evidence collected against them was obtained lawfully. The attorneys at Mr. Jensen’s Philadelphia law office are well versed in all of the ins and outs of Pennsylvania criminal law in accordance with the fourth amendment, and they will be able to provide their clients with the aggressive and effective criminal representation needed to ensure you get a fair trial.

Contact The Law Office of Erik B. Jensen

To set up a free initial consultation, contact us or call us at 215-798-0544 (toll-free at 1-866-550-4686). We are available by phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All major credit cards are welcome and payment plans can be arranged.

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