Our criminal defense law firm recently represented an African American single mother who was charged with simple assault, possession of an instrument of a crime (PIC), and recklessly endangering another person in Philadelphia, PA. Originally, this mother was charged with felonies, including robbery (felony of the first degree) and criminal trespass (felony of the 3rd degree). Following a preliminary hearing, a Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge remanded the case
Felony vs. Misdemeanor Crimes in Philadelphia
It is important to understand, however, had our client being convicted of either of those felony crimes, she would more then likely served a state prison sentence. While a misdemeanor conviction wouldn’t have likely exposed her to a state prison sentence. In most situations she could have very easily received a county jail sentence or an extended period of probation where she would be required to submit to random drug testing and other restrictions.,
What arguments did our law firm make at trial which resulted in in this acquittal
At trial our argument focused exclusively on the alleged victim’s credibility and her inconsistencies between trial and her preliminary hearing testimony. Inconsistent statements are a very important part of criminal trial representation as inconsistencies imply credibility issues; this can create reasonable doubt. In addition, our client testified in her own defense, which is sometimes a risk, but we were confident in her abilities to present her testimony to the Court. The matter was not tried before a jury, even though our client was entitled to one.
Should you choose a judge or jury trial?
It is a difficult decision, but in this situation a judge alone trial (bench trial) was in our client’s best interest based on the facts and circumstances surrounding the case. Sometimes, however, it is important that a client consider a jury trial as it is difficult for a criminal defense lawyer to convince a Judge alone of reasonable doubt. Keep in mind that the burden of proof is not innocence of the defendant, but the Commonwealth’s inability to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
At a preliminary hearing it is Prima Facie (more probable than not that a crime occurred and the person charged committed that crime). This is a much lower standard than guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Our law firm was able to have charges dismissed at the preliminary hearing level based on the Commonwealth’s inability to establish the necessary prima facie elements of the felony offenses of robbery and criminal trespass. At criminal trial however, the Commonwealth had to meet a much higher burden of proof, which ultimately resulted in a “not guilty” verdict for our client.
What can your criminal lawyer do if you’re charged with a crime of violence in Pennsylvania such as simple or aggravated assault?
If you’re charged with any crime or offense involving any type of physical violence, it is important that your attorney focus on the alleged victim’s credibility and evidence of injuries. In this particular case, the alleged victim provided no evidence of injuries, including pictures, or video evidence. In addition, with regards to the crime of possession of an instrument of crime, the Commonwealth did not provide the weapon used and the victim simply stated that our client used a footstool to strike her during the alleged altercation. Keep in mind that with regards to possession of an instrument of crime (PIC) the actual instrument can be anything and does not need to be a firearm, knife or other deadly weapon.
For more information regarding trial defenses and arguments that you can make at trial, please contact our criminal defense law firm.
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