Franklin County is located in South Central Pennsylvania. A large part of Franklin County lies within the Cumberland Valley. American history has had a great impact on Franklin County; from the days its frontier was first settled, to the events of the French and Indian War, to the Underground Railroad and Civil War. The Penn family of Pennsylvania and the Calvert family of Maryland both claimed ownership of land that now makes up Franklin County. Since neither family was willing to relinquish its claim, they pleaded their cases before the Court of England. The court ordered that a survey be conducted by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon to set out the boundary between the two states. Mason and Dixon surveyed the disputed area, placing crown stones showing the Penn coat of arms on one side and on the other side, the Calvert family coat of arms. In later years, the Mason-Dixon Line became known as the dividing line between the North and the South.
Franklin County’s location on the Mason-Dixon Line ensured that the area played a major role in the passage to freedom—the Underground Railroad. Escaping slaves often gained entry to the north through Franklin County, and the mountainous terrain provided numerous hiding places in caves and wooded areas. Franklin County cities Chambersburg, Greencastle, and Mercersburg had substantial free black populations, and by 1860, the county had the fifth largest African-American population.
Pennsylvania lawyers practicing law in Franklin County specialize in various niches of the law, including areas like bankruptcy law, employment law, personal injury law, immigration, family law, medical malpractice law, workers compensation law, and even criminal law. Criminal law involves, logically enough, crimes committed by one party against another and are broken up into two subsets: felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are larger offenses that typically result in harsher punishments. Misdemeanors are smaller offenses that yield sentences that are not quite as harsh. It is recommended that defendants retain one of the many experienced Pennsylvania lawyers practicing criminal law to represent them no matter which type of crime they have been accused of committing.
One common area of law for which Pennsylvania residents in Franklin County often need the assistance of a good Pennsylvania lawyer is that of wrongful death. Under Pennsylvania law, when a person loses his or her life due to the negligence or wrongful conduct of another, the surviving family members may have grounds to file a wrongful death lawsuit. This type of suit is different from other types of personal injury claims for an obvious reason–the actual victim (called the “decedent”) is not bringing suit. Instead, it is brought by the family members or the decedent’s estate. Wrongful death suits are typically brought in order to recover damages for the injuries that the surviving family and/or estate have suffered due to the death of the victim. The main purpose of a wrongful death suit is to provide relief to family members who have been injured emotionally and financially as a result of the family member’s death.
The Pennsylvania Wrongful Death Act determines who qualifies as a beneficiary in a wrongful death case. Generally speaking, beneficiaries include the parents, children, or spouse of the deceased, though parents must demonstrate dependency on the victim in order to recover any damages. They need not show complete dependency, however. If either or both of the parents relied on an adult child (or vice versa) for economic contributions to their welfare, they may receive compensation. The presumption is that minor children are always dependant, and spouses are entitled to recover damages based on dependency, the loss of love and affection, and the services of a deceased partner.
Pennsylvania law distinguishes between individuals who can file a wrongful death suit and those who are beneficiaries. Only certain individuals can file wrongful death claims, and those allowed to sue actually bring suit on behalf of others. Under Pennsylvania law, a surviving spouse, child, parent or guardian, or personal representative (a person appointed by the state of Pennsylvania to represent the beneficiaries) of the deceased person may file a suit on behalf of the surviving spouse, children, or parents.
Pennsylvania law provides for four types of incorporated municipalities: cities, boroughs, townships, and, rarer cases, towns. Below are listed the cities, boroughs and townships located in Franklin County:
Census-designated places are not actual jurisdictions under Pennsylvania law, but are compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau in order to compile demographic data. Other unincorporated communities, such as villages, are sometimes categorized here as well.