Allentown, county seat of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, is the state’s third most populous city. Allentown is significant historically speaking for being the place where the Liberty Bell (formerly known as the Pennsylvania State House Bell) was hidden from the British during the American Revolutionary War. The Liberty Bell was concealed in the basement of the Old Zion Reformed Church, in what is currently center city Allentown. Today, a shrine in the church’s basement marks the exact spot where the Liberty Bell was hidden. Many people travel to this city in Pennsylvania–lawyers, doctors, teachers, schoolchildren, and more–to see the replica Liberty Bell where the real Bell was hidden so many years ago.
Allentown’s high rate of crime helps keep Pennsylvania lawyers busy. The city’s known criminal offenses (as reported to the FBI) in 2006 included around 800 violent crimes and more than 7,000 property crimes. Allentown exceeded national averages in all categories of crimes other than aggravated assault. Arsons lead the pack, since arson cases in Allentown were almost double the national average. Other crimes well above the national averages included robbery, murder, and forcible rape. Fortunately, incidents of reported crimes in the city dropped in 2007. Violent crime dropped by 18 percent and crime in general dropped by 9 percent.
One reason for Allentown’s relatively high rate of crime is a high gang presence. Many of the nation’s most violent gangs now have significant contingents in Allentown, due in large part to the crackdown on gangs in New York City and elsewhere during the 1990′s. Known gangs located in Allentown include the 18th Street, the Black Dragons, the Bloods, the Crips, the Latin Kings, Los Solidos, the Mexican Mafia, and MS-13. Over 75% of Allentown’s 2007 homicides during were drug or gang-related killings. Law enforcement officials and the government, including some Pennsylvania lawyers, have undertaken several initiatives in an attempt to combat the growing gang problem.
Whether a defendant is accused of a gang-related crime or not, one thing is certain: Pennsylvania lawyers experienced in practicing criminal defense can help guide their Allentown clients through the criminal process. While U.S. law states that every accused is innocent until proven guilty, having a criminal defense attorney on your side is the smart way to go. They know the laws and rights pertaining to criminal defense backwards and forwards, and probably upside down as well! Just the right sort of expert to have on your side when you step into the courtroom and face your accuser.
Pennsylvania lawyers also practice civil law–including areas such as employment law, family law, medical malpractice law, immigration law, and personal injury law–in Allentown. Defendants in civil cases are never subject to punishments as severe as those handed down in criminal cases, no matter the type of crime charged. The burden of proof is also much lower in a civil case. If the evidence shows there is more than a fifty percent probability the defendant is responsible, the jury can return a guilty verdict. The defendant will then be responsible for making reparations to the plaintiff.