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Williamsport Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Blog

NFL player charged with multiple crimes

Although the Steelers and Eagles dominate Pennsylvania's professional football landscape, a player out west made headlines of his own on Sunday off the field. At about 6:27 p.m. on Sept. 16, calls were made to 911 about a vehicle that had run into mailboxes, trash cans and a bus stop sign in Simi Valley. The vehicle did not stop after colliding into those objects.

The driver was a practice squad player for the Rams who plays on the offensive line. His vehicle was stopped on El Monte Drive near El Lado Drive, and the player was asked to take a Breathalyzer. According to the test, he had a blood alcohol content of .17 percent, which is higher than the .08 legal limit in California. He was charged with hit-and-run with property damage and suspicion of DUI. Police took the man into custody and brought him to East County Jail.

Actor Vince Vaughn charged with DUI

Pennsylvania residents may recall recent media reports about the actor Vince Vaughn being taken into custody by police in California for driving while under the influence of alcohol. The 48-year-old actor was also cited for obstruction when he allegedly refused to cooperate with police officers or exit his vehicle after being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint during the early morning hours of June 10. Prosecutors announced on Sept. 7 that Vaughn has now been charged with misdemeanor DUI and faces the prospect of almost a year behind bars if convicted.

Police say that Vaughn, who is best known for his comedic roles in films including 'Wedding Crashers" and 'The Internship," and his male passenger were detained after refusing repeated calls to get out of their vehicle and submit to sobriety tests. Vaughn's passenger was subsequently cited for obstruction and public intoxication. The incident took place at about 12:40 a.m. at the intersection of Prospect Avenue and Artesia Boulevard in Manhattan Beach. However, the actor was not charged at that time according to reports. His case was instead assigned to the Manhattan Beach Police Department.

Pennsylvania woman facing DUI charges after crash

Police in Pennsylvania believe that a 32-year-old Newtown woman was intoxicated when she was involved in a motor vehicle accident in Bucks County during the early morning hours of Aug. 6. The woman was formally charged with driving under the influence on Aug. 20 after toxicology test results allegedly confirmed that she was impaired at the time. Reports indicate that she is due to appear before a Newtown magistrate on Oct. 1.

The woman is said to have lost control of her vehicle while driving on Sequoia Drive in Newtown Grant at approximately 3:00 a.m. Officers from the Northampton Township Police Department say that her vehicle struck a road sign and three parked vehicles before coming to a stop. A local resident told reporters that a stationary vehicle was the only thing that prevented the woman's car from crashing into his children's playroom.

FBI constantly developing methods to investigate cyber crimes

Cyber crimes encompass many criminal activities that happen online or through computer networks. These crimes include the hacking theft of valuable data and proprietary information, ransomware attacks, identity theft and distribution of child pornography. The FBI has the task of monitoring and intervening in these activities. The bureau established the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance in 1997. From its base of operations in Pennsylvania, the alliance shares resources and expertise and develops strategies for counteracting cyber criminals.

Constant advances in computer technology require investigators to update their methods continually. Cyber criminals deploy a wide range of tactics against their targets. Transnational crime rings might harvest illicit gains from stock manipulation schemes, intellectual property theft or pharmaceutical fraud. Individuals have the same potential as large companies to be exploited by cyber criminals. Various financial fraud schemes, ransomware attacks and identify theft can impose losses on people. Children might be lured into dangerous situations by predators who contact them online.

Pennsylvania judge orders man to jail after crash

A 27-year-old man was sentenced to 55 days in jail for violating his probation in a 2014 DUI case. The violation occurred in 2015 when the man crashed his 2006 Mazda 6 near Pittsburgh. A 23-year-old passenger died in the accident, and the man was charged with vehicular manslaughter. In the 2014 case, authorities say that the man had a blood alcohol content of .20 percent when he got into an accident in Stafford.

His blood alcohol level at the time of the 2015 crash was reportedly somewhere between .16 percent and .18 percent. He had told authorities at the time that he had swerved to avoid what he thought was an animal in the road. Authorities also said that he admitted to drinking prior to driving. Both the driver and the passenger had been consuming alcohol at the Seven Springs Resort and were on their way back to a vacation home when the crash occurred.

What penalties might you face for a wire fraud conviction?

If you live in Pennsylvania and are currently facing fraud charges relating to your use of email, phones, texts or another type of electronic communication, you may have valid concerns about the possible penalties you may face, if convicted. Wire fraud is a serious federal offense, and typically, authorities must prove several specific things in order to make a successful case against you.

First, they must be able to demonstrate that you had a clear intent to take money from someone or some organization through electronic means, and that you actively participated in some type of scheme you knew was unlawful. Next, they must demonstrate that you engaged in interstate wire communications in doing so, which typically means you did so through phone calls, emails or what have you.

Ankle bracelets can come at a heavy cost

Many people in Pennsylvania and across the country have been interested in electronic ankle bracelets as an alternative to imprisonment. Commonly used in white-collar cases, people like Paul Manafort and Harvey Weinstein have been released on bail while their movement is tracked. A more controversial use of the systems arose when Immigration and Customs Enforcement began using the ankle bracelets for undocumented immigrant families after the scandal around the separation of parents from their children.

Across the country, the use of electronic ankle bracelets went up two-fold between 2005 and 2015. As many people have criticized the use of mass incarceration in the criminal justice system, especially its effect on communities of color, a response has been to increase the use of ankle bracelets. While it can appear more humane to allow people to go home and live outside of jail with an electronic GPS monitoring system, these technologies have serious downsides of their own. Many people who have never experienced it for themselves do not realize just how restrictive these technologies can be.

Man charged with DUI has multiple prior convictions

A 50-year-old Pennsylvania man with multiple DUI convictions dating back to the 1990s was taken into custody on July 25 after he ran a red light. The incident occurred in Lower Saucon Township, and he was detained after performing poorly on field coordination exercises. He is facing DUI charges, and officers say his blood alcohol content was more than three times the legal limit.

In 1990, following alcohol and drug-related charges, the man went into Lehigh County's Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition. In 1992, he was again taken into custody, this time in Salisbury Township, and sentenced to one to 23 months in jail. He was detained for DUI again in August 1993 and April 1996, and he pleaded guilty both times. After yet another charge and a guilty plea in 1999, his sentence included a fine and time in prison among other penalties.

Pennsylvania traffic stop leads to DUI and drug charges

A 33-year-old Pennsylvania man is facing drunk driving and drug possession and distribution charges stemming from a routine traffic stop in Northampton County on the afternoon of July 5. Pennsylvania State Police troopers say that the Easton resident's car was pulled over in Williams Township for an expired registration. Reports indicate that the man's bail has been set at $100,000 and he is being held at the Northampton County Prison.

Troopers say that they asked the man to submit to a series of field sobriety exercises after detecting the odor of alcohol on his breath. The man is said to have responded to the request by admitting that he was driving while under the influence of alcohol. Troopers say a breath test confirmed that the man was impaired.

Report reveals racial bias in bail hearings

Both black and white judges in Pennsylvania and Florida treat African American defendants unfairly according to a study published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics. Researchers from Harvard Law School and Princeton University studied cases involving 93,914 defendants who appeared before bail judges in Philadelphia and 65,944 defendants who had their bail hearings in Miami, and they found that the average bail set for black defendants was $7,281 higher than the average bail set for white defendants.

The researchers also discovered that many black and white bail judges base their decisions on racial stereotypes and order African American defendants remanded because they fear that they will commit more crimes if released. The findings suggest that racial profiling and bias during bail hearings is more common among in Florida than it is in Pennsylvania, and the data also reveals that bail judges who lack experience are more likely to treat African American defendants unfairly.

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