Taking a Criminal Case to Trial in Philadelphia
Residents of the Philadelphia area who are facing criminal charges often want to know whether they can beat their cases. In fact, the most common question from our clients is, “can I win my case?” The answer, of course, depends on the facts of each case. There are two main issues which must be examined carefully and thoroughly:
- whether there are any valid legal issues (i.e., constitutional violations), and
- what the odds of winning at trial are.
Valid Legal Issues & Defenses
The first question is whether there are any valid legal issues which can get the case dismissed outright. For instance, there may be double jeopardy issues or constitutional violations. A 4th Amendment search which resulted in seizure of evidence may be illegal, and therefore, evidence may be suppressed. As an example, our office recently argued a 4th Amendment violation issue in an auto stop drug seizure case in Philadelphia. The court ruled in our client’s favor.
If certain evidence is suppressed, the case may be dismissed. Alternatively, the prosecution’s case may be seriously weakened, thus increasing the chances of success at trial.
Are there any other legitimate legal defenses, such as the statute of limitations, evidentiary issues, etc.? In some instances, a criminal prosecution may have been instituted too late. Pennsylvania statute of limitations laws vary for crimes. Misdemeanors and felonies generally have corresponding statute of limitations periods of anywhere between 2 years to 12 years. For some types of cases, like murder, there is no statute of limitations.
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Winning a Criminal Trial in Philadelphia
Hands down, the most common question criminal defendants who are facing long sentences have is, “what are the odds of winning at trial?” The answer often depends on the factual issues in the case and whether there is sufficient evidence that casts doubt on the testimony of witnesses for the District Attorney’s Office. In other words, can the prosecution prove what they have to prove? Are there factual weaknesses that can be exposed?
For example, in a murder case where an eyewitness places the accused individual at the scene of the crime just before the murder occurred, there may be credible evidence that the witness was intoxicated. Producing witnesses who can testify that the eyewitness was drunk or had been drinking could make all the difference at trial.
However, it is important to note that jury trials are like crap shoots. The success of a criminal case depends on the judge’s rulings and the jury, two things which are beyond the control of the person on trial.
Also, having an experienced criminal trial lawyer makes a difference. Some people relate to jurors more than others and can therefore sway a jury for their client. If you have a pending criminal case in Philadelphia and you want to go to trial, make sure your criminal defense lawyer has a good trial record. When your life and livelihood are on the line, you don’t want to be a guinea pig.
Disclaimer: This website does not create any attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. Our lawyers provide legal advice only after accepting a case. It is imperative that any action taken is done on advice of counsel. Read full disclaimer below.