Tag Archives: Drunk Driving

Taking a Stand: How to Challenge Police Officer Testimony. #CriminalDefenseAttorney

Detectives Testifying at Trial. Frank Walker Law

In most criminal cases, there’s likely to be a time where a police officer takes the stand to present evidence for the prosecution.  How the police officer witness is handled can make or break any case.  Police witnesses offer special challenges on cross examination.  First of all, there are inherent biases to combat with the jury.  The jury looks at the accused as a potential criminal and liar. Meanwhile, police officers are often looked at by jurors with respect and admiration.  Therefore its important to ask police officer questions at trial in a planned and careful matter that takes these biases into account.

The most helpful tool in preparing for the cross examination of a police witness is their report.  The written report of police witnesses will be available in discovery, and can be used to nail down the officer to a single version of events.  The point isn’t to construct an elaborate trap like you may see on tv. Instead, you want to construct a narrative that can illustrate deficits in the officer’s testimony and memory.  This may include drawing out exactly what the officer saw (and by implication, what they didn’t see), the lighting and weather conditions, and testing their memory of events. Police officers handle hundreds of cases every year, and mistakes will happen.  And if they’re mistaken about some things, its possible for the jury to conclude they are mistaken about others.  It is also important to challenge conclusions made by officers that are not supported by physical evidence.

Sometimes the questions you don’t ask are just as important.  A well constructed cross examination leads the jury to a conclusion that they draw themselves.  Trying to force an officer to admit that they made a mistake that is obviously damaging to their case will often just give them the opportunity to explain it away, and will also give them the opportunity to heap on more damaging information about the defendant. You don’t want to open that door if the prosecution hasn’t already.

Cross examination of a police officer is both an art and a science that is honed over years of trial experience.  That’s why you want Attorney Frank Walker to be the one asking the right questions on your behalf. Attorney Walker has years of trial experience and he isn’t afraid to take a tough case to trial. Don’t just plead guilty, lawyer up and fight the case!  Call 412-532-6805 to reach his office in Pittsburgh or call (304) 712-2089 for the  office in Morgantown. Call now!

About Frank Walker Law

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer, and Personal Injury Attorney who has been recognized as a Super Lawyer, Best Attorneys in America and a Top AVVO Rated attorney, with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.

 

Failed a Workplace Drug Test? What happens next? #CriminalDefenseAttorney

Facing a Drug Test at work? Contact Frank Walker Law Today.

I get a lot of questions about what are the rules regarding drug tests and work, and what happens if someone fails a drug test through their work. Pennsylvania does not have a law requiring private employers to adopt drug testing policies or prohibiting them from doing so.  There are requirements through the Department of Transportation that require drug testing in certain professions involving driving as well as drug testing requirements for some federal jobs.

The first question I often get is “if I fail a drug test through work, can I be criminally prosecuted?”  If you fail a pre-employment drug screen or a random drug test, you are unlikely to be criminally prosecuted for doing so.  Health care privacy issues usually prohibit significant dissemination of these results.  That doesn’t mean that you’re safe from criminal prosecution in all situations. If you get in an accident and drugs or alcohol are involved, the police are going to be doing their own investigation and you may find yourself facing DUI charges.

Being fired for failing a drug test pursuant to an employer’s policy is a question of employment law and the employer’s discretion.  Usually the employer will be within their rights to immediately dismiss you. The main issue in most cases is whether the employer is following their own drug testing policy properly, or whether you were unfairly targeted for testing.  Another question is whether that policy makes the necessary exceptions for prescribed medications to those with disabilities.

One thing you do not want to do is try to fake a drug test by using fake urine or someone else’s urine in the test. It is a misdemeanor of the third degree to supply urine to someone else for the purpose of deceiving a drug test or to use someone else’s urine to pass a test yourself. Using fake urine to pass a drug test is illegal as well and is charged the same.  Don’t lose your job and get criminal charges on the same day!

If you are worried about the results of a drug test or a potentially failed drug test at work or after an accident, its best to get ahead of the issue and consult with an attorney who can put your mind at ease. Attorney Walker can tell you what steps you can take to protect yourself and safeguard your rights.  Set up a consultation today! You can learn more from our website at FrankWalker.com or call our office at 412-532-6805.

About Frank Walker Law

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer, and Personal Injury Attorney who has been recognized as a Super Lawyer, Best Attorneys in America and a Top AVVO Rated attorney, with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.

 

Common College Crime Series: #PublicIntoxication

Passed Out in Public due to Public Intoxication

Anyone who has been around a college campus, college bars and houses around 2 am on a weekend can attest to the fact that its not uncommon to see college aged kids who have clearly had too much to drink.  They may be weaving down the sidewalk, throwing up, or just generally being loud and obnoxious. It is also not uncommon to see those same inebriated people get arrested for public intoxication a few moments later.

Though the severity of the offense and the penalty for a conviction of public intoxication may vary depending on the state, there are basic principles behind the offense.  Generally speaking, and this may seem obvious from the title, to convict you of public intoxication the government must prove that you were both 1. in public, and 2. clearly intoxicated.  What constitutes a public place for purpose of the statute generally depends on its openness to the public.  For example, a private club that is closed to the public, such as one that requires membership, won’t be considered a public place for purpose of the statute.  Also some states have specific requirements that the intoxicated person must be a nuisance to the public. That requires other people being around, and that the intoxicated persons behavior interfere in some way with their enjoyment of the public space.

As for intoxication, there is no specific level of intoxication such as a BAC level that determines whether someone is per se intoxicated.  These statutes are usually not limited to just alcohol, as being under the influence of drugs, with or without alcohol,  will satisfy the intoxicated prong of the statute as well.  Whether someone is intoxicated is generally a judgment of reasonableness. For the most part, you know it when you see it. And as stated above, some states public intoxication statutes require that the intoxicated person be a nuisance to others, so if the behavior is nothing that would bother the other people there, in those states a public intoxication charge would be improper.

If you or a loved one has been charged with public intoxication, consult with an attorney.  An experienced attorney can help fight the charges, get them dismissed, or pursue alternative remedies that may avoid a conviction altogether.  Attorney Frank Walker is a lawyer you can trust to fight for you. With offices in Pittsburgh, PA and Morgantown, WV, Attorney Walker has years of experience providing zealous representation to college students and the general public.   Call 412-532-6805 to reach the Pittsburgh office or (304) 712-2089 for the office in Morgantown. Call today!

About Frank Walker Law

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer, and Personal Injury Attorney who has been recognized as a Super Lawyer, Best Attorneys in America and a Top AVVO Rated attorney, with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.

Common College Crime Series: Underage, Intoxicated, & Incarcerated: #UnderageDUIs

Can Underage Drinking Lead to Underage DUI’s? Contact Frank Walker Law Today

Alcohol related crimes are very common on and around college campuses.  For some offenses like public intoxication or underage drinking, the charge can be disposed of relatively quickly, and the defendants age can be seen as a mitigating factor. However, drinking and driving underage is a serious offense with serious consequences, which can include jail time and expulsion from school.

The most major difference in the law behind DUI offenses between an adult DUI and an underage DUI is the BAC (blood alcohol content) limit.  For most adult drivers, it takes at least a few drinks in a short period of time to be over the legal limit. However, for underage drinkers, the BAC limit is significantly lower, and can be as low as .02, .04 or zero tolerance depending on the state.  For must people underage drinkers, even one drink will put them over the legal limit before getting behind the wheel.

The consequences of being underage and getting caught drinking and driving can vary greatly.  An underage drinking and driving conviction can end up in jail, or no time served at all.  It can end up in probation, substance abuse counseling or therapy, community service, fines, suspension or expulsion from school, or a mix of all of the above.  What happens is largely dependent on the facts of the case, the laws of the jurisdiction, and how you and your lawyer handle the case post-arrest. With the right approach, you can avoid a conviction by entering An Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, or mitigate a potential sentence or expulsion by being proactive about substance abuse counseling and taking the situation seriously.

The first step to getting serious is retaining a serious attorney who knows the ins and outs of your local criminal justice system. That’s where Attorney Frank Walker comes in. Attorney Walker has a solid track record of helping college students and other underage kids that have been caught drinking and driving.  With offices in Pittsburgh, PA and Morgantown, WV, Attorney Walker has experience  with students from dozens of college campuses in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. If you or someone you know has been caught drinking and driving underage, its time to get serious about your future. Call Frank Walker today. Call 412-532-6805 to reach the Pittsburgh offices or (304) 712-2089 for the office in Morgantown. We’re waiting to take your call today!

About Frank Walker Law

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer, and Personal Injury Attorney who has been recognized as a Super Lawyer, Best Attorneys in America and a Top AVVO Rated attorney, with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.

#MirandaRights: A Constitutional Right, Not a Magic Bullet. #CriminalDefenseLawyer

Suspect in police interrogation room without Criminal Attorney

Most people, despite never having been arrested, are familiar with the list of rights known as Miranda Rights.  These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to have an attorney present during questioning, the right to have a court-appointed attorney if you can not afford one, and the warning that anything you say can be used against you in court.  People are usually familiar with these rights because they can recall some rendition of them from a tv show or movie.  And in those movies where the defendant was not read their Miranda Rights, once the lawyer brings that up in court * poof * like magic the case disappears.

But of course its nowhere near that simple.  I have had clients come into my office and ask “why, if the cops failed to read me my rights, isn’t the DUI, Underage Drinking or Assault case dismissed?”  First, you have to understand when Miranda warnings are required, and what happens when those rules aren’t followed.  Miranda warnings are required prior to what is known as a custodial interrogation.  Being in custody pivots on the question of whether you were free to leave the scene, or whether you were being detained. And the question of whether you are being interrogated depends on whether you are being asked questions designed to elicit an incriminating response.

If the government violates your rights under Miranda, the statements obtained from you may not be used in court against you.  This doesn’t mean the case goes away automatically, as the government may still proceed on other evidence they may have against you. Violation of Miranda usually only proves fatal to the government’s case when your confession is the only evidence they have against you. Statements of witnesses to the crime, video tape, and other evidence may still be used to pursue a case against you.

The analysis of whether a confession or incriminating statement was made in violation of your rights can be a complicated one. For example, Miranda does not apply to statements given outside of custody, which is why many times the police may try to classify interactions as mere encounters.  Also, Miranda  does not apply to voluntary statements given freely by the defendant that were not done in response to officer questioning.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are far more exceptions, rules, and nuances to these cases than can be discussed in one blog post.

That’s why its important if you’ve been arrested that you ask to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible, prior to giving any statements to police.  Call Attorney Frank Walker.  The phone lines at the law offices of Frank Walker are open twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

The decisions you make about what to say and who to say it to may define the rest of your life, so make sure they’re made to someone you can trust.  Attorney Frank Walker has been serving the citizens of Pittsburgh, PA, and Morgantown WV for years. Check out FrankWalker.com for more information. Pittsburgh residents can call 412-532-6805 to set up a consultation, and the number for our Morgantown callers is (304) 712-2089.

About Frank Walker Law

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer, and Personal Injury Attorney who has been recognized as a Super Lawyer, Best Attorneys in America and a Top AVVO Rated attorney, with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation in a Civil Case.

Top 5 Tips to Avoid an Arrest this #StPattys Day. #FreeAdvice #Irish

Plan Ahead for March 17
Avoiding an Arrest on St. Patrick’s Day from a Criminal Defense Attorney

Every Single Year, not every other year, but EVERY, SINGLE, YEAR, our phones ring off the hook on St. Patrick’s Day and immediately thereafter. On the other end of the phone is the friend, cousin, husband, sister, wife of someone who, “is really a good person, but had a little to much to drink over St. Patty’s Day Holiday.”

Don’t get me wrong, as a Criminal Defense Attorney, the new business is great! But I really don’t want you to need me.

PSA Billboard from a Pittsburgh DUI Lawyer

You see, part of my job as an Attorney is that of a Counselor, and I view that term as  the license to impart some sage advice from time to time.

I mean, do you really want to spend the day after St. Patty’s Day gathering your hard earned funds to retain a Criminal Defense Lawyer to post bond for your Friend, or defending you at a preliminary hearing for a DUI Charge or Summary Trial for Underage Drinking, Public Intoxication, Public Urination, Summary Harassment, Fake ID or Disorderly Conduct? Probably Not.

Alas, I am breaking my own rule and dishing out some FREE LEGAL ADVICE and giving you my Top 5 Tips for avoiding an arrest this St. Patrick’s Day.

So Listen up! 

  1. Plan Ahead

Pick a Designated Driver, Download the #UBER or #LYFT App, find the local Shuttle Service in your area, or Lock in the Number for a Taxi BEFORE you hit the town.

Young Couple riding in UBER, LYFT or TAXI upon advice of Counsel – Criminal Defense Lawyer Frank Walker Law

Yellow Cab, #Morgantown, WV – (304) 292-7441

DUB V Safe Ride – Morgantown Text or call 304-777-9996

Yellow Cab, Pittsburgh, Pa – (412) 321-8100

JB Taxi Service – Beaver County, Pa – 724-658-1444

C & H Taxi – Charleston, WV (304) 344-4902

Greensburg, Pa – Yellow Cab – (724) 838-0700

 

2. Know Your Limits

Your capacity to ‘hold your liquor’ does not magically increase simply because it is St. Patrick’s Day.  You are not impressing anyone by overdoing it. Odds are you will end up making some poor decisions like thinking you can drive when you can barely walk. Be Smart.

Be Smart: Know your Limits – Tips from Criminal Defense Attorney Frank Walker Law

 

3. Use the Bathroom that has a toilet and a stall

I get it. When you gotta go, you gotta go, but do yourself a favor: Use the restroom before you leave the establishment. In the alternative, use one of the numerous port-a-potties set outside just for this occasion.

The side of buildings, cars, dumpsters and alleys do not require any additional ‘human hydration‘ or ‘liquid artwork‘. Plus, Officers are out and about waiting to cite you for Public Urination.

Use the Bathroom before you go. Don’t get arrested for Public Urination! – Tips from Criminal Defense Attorney Frank Walker Law

 

4. If you are Drinking you are Not Driving. Simple. 

Sounds So Easy, but you would be surprise at the amount of people who still get arrested for a DUI because ‘they only had two drinks’.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are ok to drive or that you are ‘not as drunk as your friend‘. Officers will be out in droves throughout the Holiday Weekend. If you Drink and Drive, you will be caught. You will face jail time, legal fees, hefty fines, license suspensions and a criminal record.

It’s not worth it. If you don’t have a plan for a designated driver, stay home, put on some green and invite some friends over. Don’t Risk a DUI

Don’t Risk a DUI this St. Patrick’s Day. Tips from a Criminal Defense Attorney – Frank Walker Law

 

5. Just Walk Away

Inevitably, alcohol will bring out the beer muscles this holiday. Insignificant arguments will immediately escalate to all out war. Fists flying, screams, scratching, yelling and Defcon 5 over something that neither party will remember once they sober up.

Just Walk Away from Beer Muscles – Tips from Criminal Defense Attorney Frank Walker Law

Do yourself a favor and just walk away.

Sure, you’ve had a couple drinks, you’re feeling yourself, and now you are ready to defend his or her honor over a perceived diss from a facebook post your neighbor’s cousin made last Halloween. Is it really worth it? Probably Not. Just Walk Away

An officer tells you to walk away from an incident, but you want to ‘give them a piece of your mind’! Is it really worth it? Probably Not. Just Walk Away.

Enjoy the Holiday Responsibly 

These are my top 5 Tips. Sure, there are many additional tips for avoiding an arrest this St. Patty’s Day Holiday, but 5 will do it for now. Want more advice? No Problem. Set an appointment and we can talk about it . . . Just don’t expect me to meet you on St. Patty’s Day.

About the Author

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer and Personal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia. Attorney Walker is also a member of the National College for DUI Defense, Super Lawyers and qualified as a Pennsylvania Death Penalty Defense Attorney.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident in WV or PA, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation following a serious accident or injury.

 

 

#SocialMedia and the Law: How the Worldwide Web Can Trap You

Social Media
Social Media as seen by a Criminal Defense Attorney

Ahh, the good old days. And by good old days I mean the days when our every move wasn’t chronicled and saved for posterity on social media. Scarier yet, sometimes we are not even aware that such cataloging of our lives is even occurring. These are the images that come back to haunt my clients, whether immediately or years into the future. The worst part is it is not only embarrassment my clients face, although that is often very much the case. It is legal consequences. That is because social media is evidence and may be admissible in court.

“Eh,” you might be thinking, “Internet sites get hacked all the time. I’ll just say the images are fake.” Bad idea. Social media, like other forms of evidence, is subject to the same rules of authentication. No more, no less. The standard to admit that Facebook or Instagram photo of you using drugs or the selfie you took at a party where a crime occurred, thereby placing you at the scene, is not high. A criminal lawyer needs only to show that the evidence is relevant, authentic, an original writing, not unnecessarily prejudicial or probative, and not hearsay.

Dangers of Social Media
Dangers of Social Media

Now, at this point, the wheels in your head may be turning, and you believe that if you only delete those images or incriminating statements from your social media accounts, they will be gone forever. Not so. Unfortunately for you, once you publish information on the Internet, a history is created, despite any efforts you make to remove it. Which means if you make attempts to destroy such information, you potentially face sanctions for doing so. Similar to other forms of evidence, there is a duty to preserve electronically stored information if it is foreseeable that the information will be relevant to ongoing or future litigation.

Even if you do not deliberately destroy electronically stored information but, instead, innocently deleted any at some other point in time, that information is still discoverable and may be admissible according to the evidence rules described above. Facebook, for example, offers users the option to download the entire history of their account. On Facebook, users can retrieve entries made to their timelines, uploaded images, and which posts they have given a “like,” even if they no longer like that post anymore.

What users may not realize is that Facebook also keeps track of other discoverable information, such as which IP addresses they use to log into their account, ads they click, and much, much more. Regardless of whether or not you deactivate your account, the information remains. Other social media platforms, including Twitter, offer similar functions for downloading stored data. The Internet, in other words, is watching you, even when you are not aware it is.

When using social media, it is important to ask yourself, “Would I be comfortable with anyone seeing my posts?” And by anyone I am talking about your family, your friends, current employers, future employers, clergy, your spouse (even if you have not met him or her yet), and, most consequentially, the police, a judge, and a jury. If you are not, then err on the side of caution.

Of course, when it comes to social media and the difficulty policing its use and abuse, it is possible to be photographed and tagged in a post without your knowledge or consent. Though this can create an uncomfortable situation for you now or far down the road, it can also implicate you in criminal activity in the same way as if you published the image yourself.

If you find yourself involved in illegal activity as a result of your presence on social media, contact a criminal attorney immediately. The laws surrounding how electronically stored information can be used either against or in support of you are complicated, and only a lawyer who is skilled and knowledgeable in this area will be able to apply the information to your advantage or minimize your exposure (no pun intended) as a result of it. There is a reason the Internet is also called the web. If you are not careful, it will trap you.

Attorney Frank Walker of Frank Walker Law is a National Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer and Personal Injury Attorney with offices in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Morgantown West Virginia. Attorney Walker is also a member of the National College for DUI Defense, Super Lawyers and qualified as a Pennsylvania Death Penalty Defense Attorney.

If you or someone you love are facing criminal charges or seriously injured in an accident in WV or PA, contact Attorney Frank Walker immediately at 412-532-6805, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for aggressive and experienced Criminal Defense or Representation following a serious accident or injury.