criminal defense attorneys in Philadelphia

Here Are Some New Criminal Laws You May Not Be Aware Of

It is important to keep yourself updated on the latest news concerning criminal laws. Even if you’re a law-abiding citizen, you never know when circumstances will force you into a situation that endangers your freedom. If you are ever arrested or caught up in a police investigation, you will need a lawyer. However, it is good to have some knowledge of new criminal laws that may have only recently come on the books.

New Crime-Related Legislation

Here is come of the more important criminal legislation passed in Pennsylvania over the last year:

Female Genital Mutilation

In 2019, a law that makes female genital mutilation a first-degree felony was enacted. FGM, as it is commonly known, is one of the most contested practices in the world. Some see the practice as a right that ought to be recognized because of its origins in some traditional societies. Others believe it is a form of torture, abuse, and sexual assault that should not be tolerated in a modern society.

The law has come down on the side of the latter. And if you are part of a community in which FGM is still practiced, you should know about it.

An Increase in Fines

The Pennsylvania House passed, and the governor signed a bill into law that increases the fine for driving a vehicle without a license to $200. This is a considerable amount of money for most people. If your license is expired, you should have it renewed rather than risk the fine. If you have children who are not yet old enough for a license, you should warn them not to drive until they have earned one.

Clean Slate

On the positive side, 2019 was also the year that the Clean Slate law went into effect. The law is designed to help minor offenders rebuild their lives. It wipes out more than half of the charges in the state court’s database, which will give people who have committed only misdemeanors to get their lives back on track.

People convicted of violent crimes such as sexual assault, homicide, and child endangerment are not eligible for the program and thus will not have their records sealed.

Why You May Need a Lawyer

If you have broken any laws or are being charged, you will need to call a lawyer. It is important to speak with your attorney before you answer any questions put to you by the police. You are innocent until proven guilty, and the state must prove any charges they may bring against you.

It may also be necessary to call a criminal lawyer in Philadelphia if you meet the qualifications for the Clean Slate program but find that your records were not expunged. This could affect your ability to get a job and a decent place to live.