Update 2/27: On Nov. 22, 2019, the state’s online docket for Folmer’s case reported that three additional child pornography charges and one additional criminal use charge were “Added by Information.” Those additional charges still appeared on the state docket on the date of Folmer’s guilty plea. However, the Attorney General and Folmer’s attorney agreed in court that only four charges were ever filed against Folmer. The additional charges detailed below appear to have been a docket error. We are continuing to investigate and will note any further updates to the article.
A trial on the child pornography charges filed against former Pennsylvania state senator Michael J. Folmer has been preliminarily scheduled for Monday, Feb. 24, 2020 in the Lebanon County Court of Common Pleas.
Folmer was charged in September with three counts of possession of child pornography and one count of criminal use of a communication facility, which relates to the phone on which allegedly pornographic pictures were found. Those offenses are alleged to have occurred on Dec. 28, 2017.
He waived a preliminary hearing in October.
The Criminal Information, which is the formal charging document filed by the Pennsylvania Attorney General on Nov. 22, adds three more charges of possession of child pornography and a second charge of criminal use of a communication facility.
The new offenses are alleged to have occurred on Sept. 17, 2019, the day Folmer was arrested and his phone was seized by law enforcement agents.
Folmer has pled not guilty to all charges.
Each of the child pornography charges is a second degree felony which carries a maximum potential prison sentence of 10 years years. Charges for the criminal use of a communication facility are third degree felonies, each with a potential seven year maximum sentence.
First time offenders without criminal records frequently receive sentences below the maximums allowed by law.
Folmer entered his not guilty plea to all charges when he filed a written Waiver of Arraignment with the court on Nov. 22.
Formal arraignment is a standard step in a Pennsylvania criminal prosecution where the accused appears before a judge and has the charges read out loud in open court. Since defendants usually know what they are accused of before arraignment day, they frequently skip this court appearance by filing a written waiver of appearance along with a formal not guilty plea.
While Folmer is scheduled for trial during the week of Monday, Feb. 24, it is not unusual for trials to be postponed, especially where serious charges are involved.
Folmer is entitled to a trial before a jury of twelve. He is presumed not guilty of all charges unless and until the jury unanimously decides that the government has proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
He could, if the prosecution and judge agree, ask for a non-jury trial, where the judge decides guilt or innocence.