Philadelphia Criminal Law News

October 2012 Archives

Romeo and Juliet Laws and Statutory Rape in Pennsylvania

Last week, we heard the story of a teenage sex-tape scandal, in which the son of the mayor of Leesport, near Reading, was suing his school after being suspended for having consensual sex with his girlfriend while on a school trip.

That was a personal injury lawsuit, in which Anders Hemdal, the mayor's 16-year-old son, was seeking damages for an alleged violation of due process and emotional distress.

Nevertheless, the story presents an interesting question about consensual sex between minors and what that means in Pennsylvania.

Basically, we're going to talk about so-called "Romeo and Juliet" laws -- the laws of consent.

Saanvi Venna Laid to Rest, Family Friend Charged With Murder

An East Norriton family faced their grief head-on over the weekend, as they laid their ten-month- old daughter to rest.

Baby Saanvi Venna's murder made national headlines, when her grandmother was found dead in the family's King of Prussia apartment last week.

Saanvi's grandmother, Satayrathi Venna, 61, who apparently died protecting her granddaughter, was babysitting the child at the time, The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. The baby was abducted from her grandmother's care. The grandmother was found with her throat slashed, the baby missing, when parents Venkata Konda Venna and Chenchu Punuru came home to their apartment last week.

Deliberations Begin in Keisha Jones' Car-Crushing Trial

Is Keisha Jones a criminal or is she the victim of an unfortunate accident?

Jones, 31, is currently being tried for the death of her husband, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Her husband was crushed to death by her car in 2011.

Now, Jones is claiming that her car gear became stuck as the car plowed towards her husband.

According to the Inquirer, Jones claims that she was distraught after her husband's death, and that the death was the result of a tragic and unfortunate accident.

After Autumn Pasquale's Murder, Halloween Curfews in Place

In a sad case out of neighboring New Jersey, two teenage boys have been charged with the murder of a 12-year-old girl, reports The Associated Press.

Autumn Pasquale was reported as missing over the weekend. Earlier this week, her body was found in a recycling bin in Clayton, NJ, just 25 miles south of Philadelphia.

This case raises the question of child security this Halloween season.

As a result, some municipalities in New Jersey have begun introducing Halloween curfews. These curfews are in response to several luring attempts across New Jersey.

Woman Gets 3 Years for Fraud, Steals Dead Grandma's Checks

It might sound like a victim-less crime to collect checks from the government on behalf of a deceased person, but law enforcement officials take this act quite seriously.

It is, after all, a crime.

And the name of the crime is "fraud."

A 60-year-old Philadelphia woman learned that lesson this week, when she was sentenced on Monday for stealing $222,000 in government issued checks to her dead grandma, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Philadelphia Nuns Burglarized Throughout October

Why would anyone steal from nuns?

Well, apparently, there have been two reported burglaries at local convents, reports The Philadelphia Daily News.

The convents involved were one in Grays Ferry and another in North Philadelphia earlier this month.

In one incident, the burglar stole $150 from a sleeping nun’s purse, early in the morning on October 17.

Sexting Soon to Be Illegal for Minors, Bill Approved by Senate

Underage "sexting" is now illegal in Pennsylvania.

Or at least it will be soon, according the The Associated Press.

Pennsylvania state senators have approved a bill which would make it a crime for juveniles to send sexually explicit photos of themselves to other minors.

This bill would penalize those under the age of 17 who were caught sexting. The offense could be as light as a summary offense or could be written as a misdemeanor depending on the exact facts and circumstances.

2nd Arrest for Wedding Brawl; Groom's Brother Says Cops Hit Him

We have more information on the Philadelphia wedding brawl. Now, a second man who was involved in the fight is facing felony charges.

To refresh your memory, last week we discussed a fight that took place at a wedding in Philadelphia. The fight was captured on video and posted. It showed a scene of pure chaos.

How to Bail a Friend Out of Jail in Philadelphia

So, you want to bail your friend out of jail in Philadelphia?

Here's what you need to know about bail.

For starters, it's important to know exactly what constitutes bail. Once a criminal suspect is arrested and booked, the authorities can set a dollar amount which is paid to the authorities to release the suspect from police custody.

Lack of Remorse: Jerry Sandusky Sentenced to 30 to 60 Years

Jerry Sandusky has been sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison, reports NBC News. That's effectively a life sentence, Judge John Cleland told Sandusky, 68.

Yet Sandusky continued to deny that he ever molested young boys. The ex-Penn State assistant football coach told the court, "In my heart, I know I did not do these alleged disgusting acts," according to NBC.

Sandusky's statement in court mirrored an audio statement that aired on Penn State's radio station Monday night. In the recording, Sandusky insisted he was wrongly convicted on the 45 child sex-abuse charges involving 10 boys, Reuters reports.

1 Dead After Fight Breaks Out at Philadelphia Wedding

A wedding in Philadelphia didn't go as planned over the weekend when chaos resulted in a death, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.

An argument between wedding guests turned into an all-out brawl at the Sheraton Society Hill Hotel early Sunday. The fight resulted in seven police officers being called to the scene.

A guest took video of the fight and posted it to YouTube. You can watch it here:

PA Taxpayers Paying for Corrupt Politicians' Legal Fees: Report

Pennsylvania law seems to cut some slack for politicians who screw up. Specifically, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that politicians accused of corruption can hire lawyers at taxpayers' expense.

Prior to 1996, these politicians didn't even have to pay the funds back upon conviction. But the law was changed that year, and now politicians convicted of corruption are supposed to reimburse the treasury for their legal fees.

Those fees have added up to $15 million over the last five years alone, the Inquirer reports. But for the most part, the convicted politicians have not been forced to reimburse the state.

Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Blocked, But Appeal Is Possible

A judge has blocked Pennsylvania's voter ID law from taking effect in time for the upcoming election, reports The Washington Post. But an appeal is possible.

The controversial law requires Pennsylvania voters to show valid photo identification at the polls. Those who were in favor of the law said that it was a necessary measure to prevent fraud at the polls, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Philly Armed Robber Sentenced to 15 Years Under Hobbs Act

Marvin Gibson was sentenced Oct. 1 for three armed robberies in Philadelphia. No one was hurt in the stickups, but prosecutors charged Gibson with federal crimes under a law known as the Hobbs Act, reports Philly.com.

This is a unique case meant to send a loud message to criminals: If you plan to commit armed robbery, beware the Hobbs Act.