The Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyers at SMT Legal believe everyone deserves a second chance. Our criminal defense attorneys will work with you to help you get the best result possible when you are facing a criminal offense. If you or a loved one are facing any criminal charges, let our skilled and experienced Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyers be your first call.

Understanding How Pennsylvania Criminal Charges And Convictions Will Affect You

Being charged with a crime is a life-changing experience. A criminal conviction, whether for a misdemeanor or a felony, can result in severe repercussions for you and your family. This can include significant jail or prison time as well as major fines. Even a minor criminal offense can take a toll on your future, including the loss of a driver’s license, difficulty gaining employment, and difficulty gaining admittance to college.

If you have never been charged before, you likely do not know what you are up against when it comes to imprisonment and fines. Criminal charges in Pittsburgh fall into three categories:

  1. Summary offenses
  2. Misdemeanors
  3. Felonies

Each kind of charge requires its own approach to successfully overcome, and our accomplished criminal defense attorneys in Pittsburgh have experience managing a variety of charges in each category. We can educate you about what to expect and what defense strategies we will use.

Summary Offenses and Misdemeanor Charges

These are considered the lowest-level offenses, but they do carry potential penalties. Likewise, a conviction for summary offenses and misdemeanors will become part of your criminal record and show up on a background check by employers.

Summary offenses only carry time in county jail, whereas misdemeanors put you in state prison instead. There is a vast difference between the two, and this becomes critical if the prosecutor wants to upgrade your summary offense to a misdemeanor or your misdemeanor to a felony.

Upgraded Charges

Charges can be upgraded depending on many factors, such as aggravating circumstances and the past criminal history of the person charged. The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony in Pittsburgh, PA is determined by the severity of the crime. Misdemeanors are crimes with lesser penalties, such as first-time DUI offenses, thefts, or simple assaults.

Prosecutors are always interested in increasing their conviction rate, especially if they can have the charges upgraded to punish you with more time behind bars and larger fines. Our job as your defense attorneys is to rebut their arguments, demonstrate reasonable doubt, and maintain your innocence in the minds of the judge and jury. We fight back against upgraded charges and work to have them reduced or dismissed.

Felony Charges

Legal representation is especially important when facing felony charges because a felony charge stays on an individual’s criminal record forever. They also remove many essential rights as a citizen, such as the right to vote and the right to own a firearm. You may also lose custody of your children, face difficulty finding work after you complete your sentence, and be unable to rent a place to live.

Felony charges stays on an individual’s criminal record forever.

Felonies are more severe crimes, such as sexual assault, murder, or aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Both misdemeanors and felonies are categorized by degree into the categories of 1st-degree, 2nd-degree, and 3rd-degree. When we turn to felony offenses, we can see the following classes and penalties that could apply:

  • Third-degree felony: This charge carries between three-and-a-half to seven years in state prison with fines up to $15,000.
  • Second-degree felony: Each conviction will bring between five to ten years in state prison and fines up to $25,000.
  • First-degree felony: The harshest penalties are reserved for first-degree convictions, imposing ten to twenty years in state prison and as much as $25,000 in fines.

A criminal conviction affects your immediate freedom and your entire future. Those with a criminal record have difficulty returning to work and home after serving jail time. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you avoid many of the consequences of facing these allegations.

Skilled Representation for Criminal Charges: From Misdemeanors to Felony Charges

When you are charged, law enforcement officials are happy to let you talk, knowing that anything you say could be used to incriminate you in court. Telling your story to the police officer is not the way to go. You must wait until you have trustworthy legal representation from experienced criminal defense lawyers.

The Criminal Justice System is Not Set Up in Your Favor

The criminal justice system is set up in favor of the police, prosecutors and the State of Pennsylvania. Every member of the police and court system is working to increase their conviction rates. When it comes to criminal charges, you need an experienced criminal attorney who is on your side. The criminal defense attorneys at SMT Legal will guide you from your preliminary hearing through your trial in criminal court.

Our criminal defense lawyers will listen to your story and examine ways to showcase the positives while downplaying the negatives. We will analyze the evidence against you and find ways to dismiss it. Our goal is to poke holes in the prosecutor’s case against you.

If you choose to go with a public defender, you put your life in the hands of someone who may be competent but is often stretched thin across a huge roster of clients. They often meet with you only minutes before your arraignment.

The criminal defense law firm at SMT Legal understands how to navigate the complex Pennsylvania and Federal laws surrounding charges, hearings, and trials work. We believe in building a solid attorney-client relationship so we can present the strongest defense on your behalf. This trust is founded on providing you with a thorough understanding of the legal issues you face and how we plan to overcome them. SMT Legal will manage all hearings, negotiations for plea bargains, and interactions with the prosecutor. We believe all criminal defendants deserve a chance for the best possible outcome.

Our team has the resources necessary to investigate every aspect of your case and help formulate a solid, strong defense on your behalf. We are skilled in handling criminal cases involving misdemeanor offenses and felony charges.

Practice Areas

Our criminal defense representation includes:

DUI Defense

DUIs can be charged if you have alcohol or drugs in your system. In some instances, a potential defense may be available if the drug was a prescription medication and you were unaware of its effects. If you are in need of a DUI lawyer, SMT can help you.

Drug Crimes

A drug crime conviction in Pennsylvania has serious repercussions – not just for your immediate future, but also for the rest of your life. Both State and U.S. Federal courts could try and convict you. No matter how small the amount of drugs, whether it was marijuana, cocaine or heroin or illegal prescription medication–a drug arrest means that you face jail or prison time, costly fines and a criminal record that could haunt you forever.

Manufacturing, possession, and sale of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, LSD, and opioids carry severe penalties and can be upgraded to federal crimes if the activity crosses state lines.

Internet Crimes

You could face penalties for crimes involving the use of a computer or other device connected to the Internet, such as identity theft, credit card fraud, revenge porn, child pornography, cyberstalking, hacking, and distribution of a computer virus.

Sex Crimes

These involve actions that have an element of rape, sexual assault, or child pornography. They also include sex with a person under the age of consent, and conviction requires you to register as a sex offender, along with imprisonment and fines.


Theft is taking any property from another person without their consent, such as shoplifting, pickpocketing, grand theft, petty theft, and burglary.

Violent Crime

These include murder, domestic violence, simple or aggravated assault, and terrorism. The presence of a weapon typically creates an aggravating circumstance, which results in higher prison time and fines.

White Collar Crimes

Affecting a larger number of people in most cases, white collar crimes usually happen in a business or as part of a business front, such as for money laundering. Other offenses include bribery, corporate fraud, embezzlement, insurance fraud, mail fraud, and insider trading.

We also offer guidance for cases involving summary offenses, which are the lowest-level criminal charge in Pittsburgh, PA. Summary offenses include actions such as loitering, harassment, and underage drinking.

SMT Legal criminal defense attorneys also work with clients who need an expungement of their previous convictions or charges. Expunging removes the charge from your record, making it as if it never happened for most purposes. This can improve your chances of getting a job, renting a home, or securing education funding.

Defending Yourself Against Criminal Charges

There are a number of strategies your attorney may use for your defense, depending on the nature of the crime, your past history, the severity of the crime, and how many victims were affected. Some common criminal defense techniques we have used to help our clients succeed include:

  • Entrapment: Your attorney can argue that law enforcement encouraged or coerced you to commit a crime you otherwise would not have committed. This is commonly used in drug defense trials involving undercover police posing as buyers or sellers.
  • False confession: You can argue that you confessed to a crime you did not commit because the police and prosecutor subjected you to harassment or false statements to elicit a confession.
  • Inconsistent witnesses: When a witness’s story changes or is inconsistent, your attorney can move to have their statements removed from consideration. They can also argue the testimony is not credible, showing reasonable doubt that you committed the crime.
  • Police misconduct: When law enforcement officers do not follow regulations and procedures, your lawyer can potentially have their testimonies and evidence dismissed from consideration. False information or inconsistencies between police reports and in-court statements can also put their credibility in question.
  • Reasonable doubt: The prosecution bears the burden of proving you committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Your lawyer will work to maximize the appearance of reasonable doubt in the minds of the judge and / or jury and persuade them to acquit you.
  • Self-Defense: Violent offense charges can sometimes be reduced or dismissed when a criminal defense attorney in Pittsburgh can show evidence that you acted in self-defense or to defend another person.

Depending on the circumstances, your defense lawyer may also consider having you plead guilty to lesser crimes in a plea bargain. In some situations, it is better to take a lesser charge and punishment than take your chances with the evidence against you. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys will be able to help you determine the best course of action to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Why Choose SMT Legal To Be Your Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Attorneys

SMT Legal offers a legal team of exceptional team of criminal defense attorneys in Western Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, and Pittsburgh area. With years of experience handling complex criminal cases, we understand the Pennsylvania legal system and work as a team to analyze and create the strongest defense for every client.

Chris Thomas is a fantastic lawyer. I was facing a 15 day license suspension and he got it drastically reduced to a much more manageable situation. I went from a license suspension and double digit points to no suspension and no points. He made it clear throughout the whole process what was going on and he eased my concerns. I will go to him again but I hope I’ll never have to! – Matt Groesch, Criminal Defense Client

Our criminal lawyers also have trial experience with jury trials. We develop persuasive arguments for the courtroom to promote reasonable doubt and sway the decision in your favor. We also stand by you during the appeals process to continue the fight for your rights.

Contact the Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyers at SMT Today

The experienced Pittsburgh trial lawyers at SMT Legal have helped numerous people charged with crimes for years. We stand ready to defend you, no matter the circumstances. Contact our criminal defense lawyers today to discuss your legal matter. Schedule a free consultation today.

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