Pennsylvania is a No Fault divorce state. If you are contemplating Divorce or have been served with a Divorce Complaint, it is important to know your rights before you make any decisions about what you want to do with your divorce. Divorce actions will affect not only your state of marriage but will have repercussions with regard to the custody of your children, potential payment of support or alimony, and the division of your marital property. You should not make any decisions without being completely informed as to the Divorce Laws in this state.

If you are served with, or are thinking of filing a custody action, it is important for you to know your rights. Specifically, the old laws that provided mothers with more control in custody actions are no longer controlling. Today, fathers have equal rights in custody actions. However, seperated parties can establish a status quo if rights are not asserted at the outset of a case.

If you are facing an upcoming support hearing or are pursuing support against a parent you need to know the factors that are used to determine your support to assure that you are receiving and/or paying the correct amount. Contact us today to meet and discuss what factors will be considered so that you can be fully prepared for any hearing.

Juvenile Court
If your child is arrested or charged with a criminal offense, you will need the best possible representation for your child. The rules and penalties are different for juveniles charged with a criminal offense than they are for adults. Also, depending on the nature of the criminal charges and your child’s prior involvement with the police, there may be an opportunity to get your child into a program that would result in all charges being dismissed. As with any criminal offense, the quicker you contact the firm the more time we will have to investigate the criminal charges and discuss possible resolutions with you and your child.

Drunk driving charges are serious charges which can result in mandatory incarceration, fines and license suspension. The length of incarceration and amount of fines will depend on the level of alcohol or drugs found in one’s blood as well as the number of prior convictions for DUI. If you have been arrested for DUI it is important that you call the firm as soon as possible to discuss your legal defenses which may include a discussion of the constitutionality of the police stop, the certification and calibration of the breathalyzer, the length of time between the stop and the application of the breathalyzer or blood test, statements made to the police, witnesses, and video evidence taken from police car video cameras.

If this is your first arrest for DUI and you have no prior criminal record, you may qualify for a program for first time offenders called ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition). If you qualify for ARD, you will be placed on probation for a period of time, often one year, and be able to avoid the mandatory incarceration and reduce the length of the mandatory license suspension. If you successfully complete the ARD program, the charges against you will be dismissed and you may have your criminal arrest/record expunged.

Should you not qualify for a program such as ARD, the firm can assist in attempting to minimize the impact of any mandatory incarceration which includes securing approval for work release, seeking approval to allow you to serve your sentence on weekends, obtaining credit for inpatient treatment and, if applicable, asking that the court permit you to serve your sentence on house arrest.

Traffic Offenses
Traffic citations are not only annoying, a traffic citation may result in points, license suspensions, license revocation, incarceration and insurance rate increases. People often make the mistake of paying the ticket, not realizing that by paying the ticket you are pleading guilty. You only have a short period of time after receiving the ticket to decide whether to plead guilty or not. If you fail to respond to the citation, your driver's license may be suspended until you respond to the ticket. If you had a hearing before the local district justice regarding your ticket and you were found guilty, you have thirty days in which to file an appeal and obtain another hearing before another judge at the County courthouse. It is important that you contact us immediately upon receiving a traffic citation or getting convicted before a district justice so that we can discuss the implications of the traffic citation, the possible defenses to the ticket and the need for an appeal.

Driver's License Suspension
If you have received a letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation notifying you that your license has been suspended, it is important that you contact us immediately as there is a time limit of thirty days in which to file a civil appeal in the courts. Often, the filing of an appeal will allow you to keep your driver's license until the court makes a decision in your appeal. If your driver's license is already suspended, contact the firm so that we can discuss whether you can qualify for a work license or a probationary license.

Expungement of Criminal Record
Is your criminal record keeping you from getting a job or getting into school? If so, you may be able to have your criminal record expunged. If you have successfully completed the terms and conditions of a first time offender program such as ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition) or Section 17 Disposition, which is a program for first time drug offenses, then you may qualify to file to have your criminal record expunged. If you were convicted of violating section 18 Pa.C.S.A. 6308 (relating to purchase, consumption, possession or transportation of liquor or malt or brewed beverages), also known as underage drinking, and you are now 21 years or older, then you may qualify to have that conviction expunged. If you have been charged with a criminal offense and were found “not guilty” of the criminal offense, or if the criminal offense was withdrawn by the prosecutor, then you may qualify to file to have your criminal record expunged.

Drug Offenses
The Firm represents clients charged with felony and misdemeanor drug charges including possession of drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession with the intent to deliver drugs. Not only may a drug conviction lead to possible incarceration, many drug offenses will result in a drivers’ license suspension even if you were not operating a motor vehicle at the time of the arrest. Most drug arrests are the result of a search and seizure by the police. If you have been charged with a drug offense, it is important that you contact The Firm so that we may discuss the specifics of the search and seizure to determine if the police officer violated your constitutional rights. If the police officer violated your constitutional rights, any evidence obtained as a result of the illegal search and seizure may be inadmissible in court.

There are alternatives to jail. If you are a first time offender, you may qualify for a first time offender program that will result in an expungement of your criminal record if you successfully complete the program. Also, many county courts have a “drug court” which is focused on rehabilitation of low level offenders. Successful completion of a “drug court” program may result in a reduction of criminal charges or penalties.

Personal Injury
This firm aggressively represents individuals who have been injured as a result of the negligence of others. This includes those who have been injured as a result of motor vehicle accidents, slip and falls, tractor trailer accidents, construction site accidents, dog bites, and assaults. If you have been injured due to the negligence of others, it is important that you contact us immediately so that we can investigate and evaluate your case. If you are unable to come to our offices we will visit you in your home or hospital, if necessary. Our representation is done on a contingent fee basis, so there is no cost to you unless we settle your case or obtain a verdict. If we are unable to settle your case, we will take your case to trial.  Kate M. Kelly has tried numerous personal injury cases before judges, juries and arbitration panels and is committed to obtaining the best result possible for you.

Criminal Defense
When you need a criminal lawyer, contact Kate M. Kelly. Committed to defending every client zealously, providing the highest quality of personalized criminal defense services, and obtaining the best results possible in every case, Kate M. Kelly understands that a criminal arrest can be scary, especially when facing jail time. Our firm will guide you through the court system and fight to prove you are innocent. When pleading guilty is not an option, you need to call us!

Whether you are a college student attending a local University or a business professional, a criminal record can prevent you from gaining lawful employment. In Pennsylvania, even summary offenses, such as public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, public urination, harassment and underage drinking will remain on your record for five years. This means that anyone, including potential employers, universities, friends and colleagues can view your criminal history on the internet, as it is a matter of public record. 

In addition to pleading not guilty and forcing the Commonwealth to prove their case, you may be eligible for ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition). The Pennsylvania ARD Program is designed to divert first-time offenders from entering the criminal justice system. When a first-time offender is accepted into the Pennsylvania ARD program, the Commonwealth requires that certain court-ordered conditions are followed. The Pennsylvania ARD program requires a period of supervision, after which it will keep your record clean, increasing your employment opportunities. ARD can be an excellent option for DUI offenses. Contact our firm today to see if you may be eligible for the ARD program.

If you have already been found GUILTY or NOT GUILTY, you still must petition the Court to get your record expunged. Your record is not automatically deleted. Even if you were found not guilty, the record of the arrest will still appear and will be searchable by the general public, including employers.

Protection from Abuse
While there are laws against domestic violence in every state, Pennsylvania has some of the most effective and far-reaching legal remedies to ensure victims of domestic abuse are protected and provided for. One unfortunate result of such aggressive anti-domestic violence law is that they can also be taken advantage of in some cases in an attempt to secure an upper hand in a divorce proceeding. Potential consequences include but are not limited to: eviction from your home, loss of right to possess firearms as well as temporarily being denied the right to see your children.

Whether you need protection from domestic violence, or a domestic violence accusation, the experienced family law attorney Kate M. Kelly will fight vigorously and aggressively on your behalf.

Wills, Estates and Trusts
It is important for individuals and business owners of all ages to develop an Estate Plan which will cover future contingencies. A good Estate Plan will include up to date Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, Health Care Proxies, a Last Will and Testament, and, frequently, a Trust. Our Firm is experienced in the preparation of both Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts as part of an Estate Plan. Often times a family may have a member challenged by disabilities. In these circumstances a Supplemental Needs Trust can be prepared which will preserve assets without costing the loss of any governmental benefits which the individual has been receiving. The Law office of Kate M. Kelly is also able to advise individuals on the use of individual retirement accounts in their planning. Tax planning is also discussed with the client. This planning involves not just income tax, but the fields of gift and estate tax.