I have written many articles on criminal defense strategy mostly focused on crimes pertaining to drugs, guns, and DUI. These types of cases require a strong understanding of the Constitution especially a person’s rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
In addition to an understanding of these concepts its important that your attorney have the necessary practical experience to defend your case not simply his education obtained from law school. I can’t stress enough the importance of hiring a criminal defense lawyer and not an attorney who simply practices law in another area like real estate, personal injury, medical malpractice or God forbid a “general practitioner” who prides himself on being skilled in “all areas” of the law; its impossible! If the attorney doesn’t practice criminal defense and is simply basing his knowledge on an example used in law school or advice from another lawyer you are setting yourself up for disaster.
Criminal defense in Pennsylvania or in any jurisdiction such as New Jersey requires the knowledge of not only the law but the criminal procedure to correctly apply the principles and strategies that I often talk about in my articles, books, and videos. It isn’t enough to understand that drug possession with intent to deliver (PWID) is for instance a felony offense as opposed to simple possession which is a misdemeanor offense in Pennsylvania. Your attorney’s knowledge must go beyond these basic understandings and dive deeper into concepts of active vs. constructive possession and the circumstances surrounding the arrest to distinguish between felony possession (PWID) and misdemeanor possession.
An attorney who doesn’t regularly practice criminal defense in Pennsylvania may ignore the details surrounding your arrest that can possibly distinguish a felony from a misdemeanor charge. In addition, a general practice attorney may ignore possible constitutional violations that could lead a court to find that the evidence against you (drugs) is inadmissible because it violates your rights under the Pennsylvania and US Constitutions. Drug cases aren’t the only charges that require a firm understanding of criminal defense strategies because there are more to gun charges than the fact that carrying a gun on the streets is illegal unless you possess a license to carry it. Your attorney must have an understanding of violations of the Uniform Firearms Act in Pennsylvania (VUFA).
In addition to crimes involving drugs you also want to avoid the general practice attorney if you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. The charge of DUI requires a firm understanding of Breathalyzer testing, blood draw testing, field sobriety test and the specific elements of a DUI charge (control, impairment, safe operation). Similar to drug and gun crimes a DUI defense should also focus on pre-trial motions issues such as reasonable suspicion and probable cause to arrest someone. The right motion to suppress can lead to the inadmissibility of BAC evidence against you. The inadmissibility of this evidence can substantially reduce the severity of the DUI charge or lead the prosecution to withdraw its case against you for lack of evidence.
In closing, I can’t stress the importance of hiring a criminal defense attorney as opposed to a general practitioner or just some attorney who practices in another area. Criminal defense isn’t a part time practice and hiring a lawyer who is taking a deposition one day and handling a family court case the next isn’t the person you should hire if you are charged with a crime in Pennsylvania.