Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have reached this page, you may be seeking a criminal defense lawyer for yourself or someone very important to you.  You probably have questions and concerns about the law, your rights, possible penalties, and other consequences of being prosecuted for a crime.  The criminal defense lawyers in our firm have decades of combined experience, with matters ranging from minor summary offenses, such as underage drinking and disorderly conduct, to handling major felony trials such as rape and criminal homicide.

Here are some of the questions you may have:

Do I need a lawyer?

If you have been charged with a crime, you need a criminal defense lawyer.  A lawyer will be familiar with the charges against you, the possible penalties, the court procedures, potential defenses to the charges, and can help you obtain the best possible result in your case.

The police have called me and asked me to speak with them about an investigation.  Should I call a lawyer before I speak with the police?

The unequivocal answer to this question is yes!  What happens at an initial meeting with the police about a case can have long-lasting consequences that affect the result in your case.  You have important rights to counsel and to remain silent.  An attorney can consult with you, advise you about your rights, and can even begin negotiating a resolution with the police at this stage.  In some cases, a lawyer may be able to arrange a settlement of the case that prevents the filing of criminal charges.

This is the first time I have ever been charged with a crime.  Are there any programs that can benefit me?

Depending on the seriousness of the charges, you may be eligible for a diversionary program that would help you avoid a conviction, such as ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) or YOP (Youthful Offender Program).  An attorney can advise you whether you are eligible for such a program.

What should I expect during an initial appointment with a criminal defense attorney at the Mazza Law Group?

Each client is an individual, and our first priority is to get to know you- your career, family, etc.  This not only helps us build the lawyer-client relationship, but it also allows provide advice based on what is most important to you.  We will also strive to explain the charges, the procedures, and potential outcomes of the case.  Most importantly, we will do our best to answer your questions and concerns.

I’ve never talked to a lawyer before.  How will the lawyers and staff treat me at the Mazza Law Group?

The staff and attorneys at the Mazza Law Group understand that coming in to see a lawyer can be intimidating, and will do everything possible to make you feel comfortable as soon as you call on the phone, or arrive for your appointment.  You can confidently discuss your situation with attorneys who have a wide variety of experience, from minor summary offenses to major felonies, including homicide trials.  They have likely worked for clients with cases similar to yours, so there’s no need to feel embarrassed when you speak with them.

I’m a Penn State student- how can you help me?

We pride ourselves in the services we provide to Penn State students.  We understand that there is a lot riding on the outcome of your criminal case because you have future goals in mind.  If there are options to help you avoid a damaging criminal record, we will make sure that you are aware of those options.  Additionally, we are familiar with the student conduct process at Penn State- we can provide advice and even attend conferences and hearings with you.

If you are the parent of a Penn State student, you may be concerned about the lasting effects of a charge or a conviction, and you will want an attorney you can trust with your child’s future at stake.  Please feel free to call to speak with one of our criminal defense lawyers if you have questions before making the important choice in selecting a lawyer for your son or daughter.

I believe I am guilty- why do I need a criminal defense lawyer?

A lawyer will be familiar with the possible defenses to your case, which you may not even be aware of.  Additionally, a lawyer can advise you about the consequences of a conviction, such as fines, probation, incarceration, driver’s license suspensions, increased insurance rates, forfeiture of assets, relinquishment of firearm rights, immigration consequences, etc.  There may be options to get charges reduced, or be admitted to a diversionary program to help you avoid being convicted.  A lawyer can help you achieve the best possible result, even if you believe you are responsible for the offense.

I’m not guilty. Why do I need a criminal defense lawyer?

Our criminal justice system is an adversarial system.  If criminal charges are filed against you, the government will utilize its resources to present evidence in court against you.  A lawyer can advocate for you, protect your rights by filing pretrial motions to dismiss the case or suppress evidence, and work on your behalf to demonstrate the weaknesses in the government’s case.   You should not face the government’s resources without the aid and assistance of an experienced lawyer who is fighting for you.

What are some examples of the types of criminal cases your firm handles?

Our lawyers are licensed to practice throughout Pennsylvania, and are also admitted to practice in federal court in the Middle and Western Districts of Pennsylvania.  Among other cases, they can help you if you are charged with:

Underage Offenses

  • Penn State is consistently ranked as a top party school by numerous popular magazines. With roughly 40,000 college students, some of whom are away from home for the first time, mistakes are common. Don’t let a seemingly small mishap taint your future. Being charged with an underage offense can have severe consequences including fines, license suspension, a permanent criminal record, and increased automobile insurance rates.
  • With legal counsel the consequences of an underage offense can be mitigated, and allow you to move on with your life without having to relive the mistake at every job interview.

Driving Under the Influence Offenses

  • A DUI conviction can result in incarceration, license suspension, heavy fines, probation, a permanent record, and increased automobile insurance rates. It is important to speak with an attorney immediately after being charged for DUI in order to protect your rights, weigh your options, and lessen the negative consequences associated with the offense.
    • There are first-time offender programs available that can significantly reduce the severity of the penalties associated with a DUI if you qualify.
    • The penalties associated with a second or subsequent DUI increase considerably and thus require a great deal of care. With a skilled advocate to help you navigate through the criminal justice system, the loss of liberty and financial costs associated with a second DUI can be drastically reduced. If you have been charged, you should be aware of your options and contact an attorney at once.

Assault Offenses

  • Assault and similar offenses in Pennsylvania are serious. These offenses may be misdemeanors or felonies. Penalties range from mere probation to as much as 20 years in prison, along with heavy fines, a permanent criminal record, and negative publicity if the story is picked up by a local newspaper.
  • Often an assault charge stems from a fight that was mutual, or you may have even been acting in self-defense, but the other party simply called the police first. There are numerous defenses available to challenge an assault charge or reduce the severity of the offense to one with fewer negative consequences.

Theft Offenses

  • Theft offenses in Pennsylvania cover a wide range of conduct, and you may be charged with a theft offense without having the culpable intent required for conviction. The penalties for theft offenses are stiff, as the offenses range from misdemeanors to felonies. If charged or even informed that you are under investigation, you should consult an attorney at once.
  • With legal counsel a theft offense may be successfully defended or reduced, and allow you to move on with your life without having to relive the allegation at every job interview.

Traffic Offenses

  • Being cited for speeding, careless or reckless driving, or other moving violations may seem like a small matter but for some individuals, such as truck drivers, even the least serious offense can have significant consequences. Our criminal defense attorneys can present defenses which may be available to lessen or defeat the charge. It is important to speak with an attorney immediately after being cited with a moving violation in order to protect your rights, weigh your options, and lessen the negative consequences associated with the offense.
    • Traffic violations can add points to your driving record. The accumulation of points can have serious consequences including the automatic suspension of driving privileges, increased automobile insurance rates, and requiring the driver to complete tests.
    • Points will not be added to a driving record until the driver is convicted. Thus, a not guilty plea may be advisable in order to prevent the points from being assessed.

Marijuana and Other Drug Offenses

Although medical marijuana has been legalized in Pennsylvania, possession and distribution of marijuana and other drugs can lead to significant criminal and collateral penalties, like fines, incarceration, driver’s license suspension, and forfeiture of assets. If you are under investigation or have been charged with a controlled substance offense, it is important to contact an attorney immediately. Our criminal defense lawyers will analyze your case, including the probable cause for any search, to determine the best criminal defense strategy to limit the negative consequences of the charges.

If you have been charged with a criminal action in State College, Bellefonte, Lemont, Pine Grove Mills, or across Central Pennsylvania, you need to seek an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. For more information see Centre County. You do not want to leave your future to chance. Your freedom, your assets, and your reputation are valuable – Contact us today.