Speedy Trial and Rule 600

Know Your rights

When someone is charged with a crime, they have the constitutional right to a speedy public trial. In the vernacular sense, time is an elusive creature in the modern criminal justice system. It is not unusual for criminal cases to take over a year to resolve from the time charges are filed. A careful and diligent lawyer can use the speedy trial rules to your advantage.

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Reader's Choice Awards Announcement 2022

Reader’s Choice Awards Announcements 2022

We are proud to be your Reader’s Choice Awards Winner

Thank you for choosing Pyfer Reese as your 2022 Reader’s Choice Awards Winner! We take great pride in providing our clients with unmatched service in all of our specialized areas of law. Our team of highly experienced attorneys and paralegals take the time to get to know you personally so we can provide you with quality service, advice and care.

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When we prepare an estate plan for our clients, we strongly recommend that it include a will, a power of attorney, and often an advanced health directive.  A power of attorney often referred to as a POA is a legal document that allows you as the principle to appoint another person to act as your agent or attorney-in-fact. The agent has the authority to act on your behalf and handle financial and personal affairs.

A power of attorney is important because a will has absolutely no effect until after the death of the person who wrote it.  A POA allows a person (or persons) that you name as your agent (or agents) to act on your behalf while you are incapacitated or are unable or unavailable to act on your own behalf.  You may also include a provision which allows your agent to receive medical information and give instructions to medical providers.

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Section 7738 of the Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries Code of Pennsylvania provides for the creation of an Animal Trust to provide for the care of pets upon the owner’s death or disability. Learn about Estate Planning, Trusts for Animals/Pets.

It is not generally recommended that a formal trust be established for the care of a pet.  A better approach may be to discuss this issue with a family member or friend and obtain their agreement to care for the pet upon your death or disability. In this scenario, a specific sum of funds is set aside in your Will to provide for the expenses related to your pet’s ongoing care.  This eliminates the need to establish a formal trust account which would require additional, unnecessary expenses. The informal animal care approach is certainly is the more cost effective approach.

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Get Legal Help to File for Social Security Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monetary benefits to individuals that qualify based on a disability that meets SSA statutes or, in the case of Supplemental Security Income (SSI), are low income eligible. The process of filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or SSI will vary for each individual, as each individual’s situation is unique. An attorney at Pyfer, Reese, Straub, Gray & Farhat, P.C. is available to assist you at any stage throughout the filing process, beginning with a free consultation.

Filing an Initial Application

The initial application can be filed in person at a local Social Security office, over the phone, by mail, or online at   If applying via paper forms, these will be sent to you in the mail for you to complete.  While the initial application may seem straightforward, there are steps that you can take to best ensure that you are approved at the application level.

Accurate completion of these forms is critical to the decision that will be made in your case.  The forms should be filled out appropriately and returned promptly. An applicant may be required to have an examination by SSA doctors during this time. The best steps for an individual to take at the application level are unique in each case and would require review prior to advice being provided. This first level can require approximately 3-6 months before a determination is made on your application.

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Kids Have A Say In Custody Decisions

When determining an award of custody, Pennsylvania Courts consider sixteen (16) factors as listed and described under 23 Pa. C.S. § 5328. One of those factors, specifically, 23 Pa. C.S. § 5328(7) provides that the “well-reasoned preference of the child based on the child’s maturity and judgment” be considered when making a decision concerning custody.         

Common sense would dictate that the older the minor child subject to a custody action, the greater the evidentiary value his or her preference would have for the presiding judge in a custody hearing. But for a few exceptions, the foregoing is accurate for obvious reasons. First and foremost, the older minor child would be more able to articulate his/her preference than would a much younger child. Second, the older child’s stated preference would more likely impact a decision concerning custody because it would be the manifestation of a more mature and developed intellect, based on age.

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Rules Governing Military Benefits in Divorce Cases

A military spouse considering separation and divorce should be aware of protections afforded by The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) and options for dividing military retired pay.  Primarily, USFSPA was enacted to provide financial protections to former spouses of military members, to include allowing states to divide military disposable retired pay as marital property upon the entry of a Divorce Decree.  USFSPA also provides certain categories of a spouse’s additional protections and benefits:

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What is a Gun Trust? Do I Need One?

If you are not a gun collector, you may not have heard of the term “gun trust.”  Even if you have heard of it, you may not understand what a gun trust is, how it works, or how it can be of use in an estate plan.

A gun trust is a revocable or irrevocable management trust established to hold the title to your firearms.  The trust is a legal entity, it becomes appointed as the legal owner of the firearm, and ownership is shifted to the trust or bought by the trust.  Revocable trusts are more common, as they can be amended during the lifetime of the grantor.  A trustee is designated to administer the trust for the trust’s recipients.

What are gun trusts used for?

Although any legally owned weapon can be placed into a gun trust, these trusts are specifically used for weapons that are classified under the National Firearms Act (NFA) Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968.  Examples of these weapons would include a fully automatic machine gun or a short-barreled shotgun or a suppressor, sometimes called a silencer.  The transport and ownership of firearms that are so heavily regulated can easily become a felony without the owner even knowing they are breaking the law.

Even if there are no Title II guns owned, there still may be important benefits in setting up this trust.  For example, an owner of a large collection of firearms may find it easier to transfer ownership of his or her weapons to a gun trust, reasons being protection of privacy, allowing for the disposition of the collection, and addressing the possibility of incapacitation. 

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hands in handcuffs

When can negative prior acts evidence be used against a defendant in a criminal case?

(And why you need diligent counsel to represent you)

The district attorney’s office has several advantages in any criminal case. They have immense discretion, vast resources, and the benefit of several evidentiary rules. Among those rules is Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence 404(b), which allows the limited use of “prior bad acts” evidence against defendants in criminal cases. In some cases, that rule allows the prosecutor to tell the jury about other bad things the defendant supposedly did—even if they were never charged or convicted.

When can prosecutors use prior bad acts evidence?

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baby feet on pavement

What Happens in a Custody Case in Lancaster County?

I. Appearance in Family Business Court

This does not happen in each case. When your case begins, it may be necessary to have a “temporary”

Custody Order. This will require an appearance in Family Business Court. Family Business Court is a Court Session which is held on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday (depending on the letter of the alphabet of the Defendant’s last name). At this time, attorneys speak with the Judge, make arguments, and the Judge makes a determination regarding their request. A Temporary Custody Order may be entered after a Family Business Court Session. This is not a final, permanent Order.

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