According to the Department of Research and Statistics of the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts, there were 170,748 new criminal cases filed throughout the state of Pennsylvania in 2013. While is impossible to know with any degree of accuracy how many of the accused were innocent, common sense and historical data indicate that it is likely that a significant number of these new cases involved false accusations. Even in cases where the defendant admits to engaging in the conduct of which he or she is accused, there are often defenses available that may mitigate or even completely negate an element of the crime alleged.
Successfully raising and arguing a legal defense in a criminal case is a complicated process, and it would be very difficult for a person without any legal training to do so. In some cases, a person who is accused of a crime may not even be able to recognize the fact that a defense may be available. Consequently, anyone who is accused of criminal misconduct should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. To discuss your case with Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Brian Zeiger, call our office today at 215-546-0340.
Some of the defenses that are commonly raised in Philadelphia criminal cases are detailed below.
Alibi – Alibi is among the most commonly raised defense in criminal cases. It involves introducing evidence that the defendant was not at the scene of the crime when it occurred, and, therefore, could not have been the person who committed the crime. Raising this defense generally involved calling witnesses that can testify to the defendant’s whereabouts when the crime occurred.
Violation of your constitutional rights – While not technically a legal defense, alleging that law enforcement violated your constitutional rights while investigating a crime can result in the exclusion of evidence from trial, which in turn may result in the prosecutor dropping your case or the court determining that there is insufficient evidence to support a conviction and dismissing it. These arguments focus on whether a particular search or seizure was reasonable in light of 4th Amendment case law.
Self-defense is raised when a defendant is accused of a violent crime and he or she admits to the engaging in the conduct of which he or she is accused. The defense operates by alleging additional facts that, if true, justify the defendant’s use of violence under the circumstances. Successfully raising self-defense requires a highly specific legal showing and evidence, therefore it is imperative for individuals claiming self-defense to retain an attorney.
The insanity defense involves admitting the conduct of which the defendant is accused but alleging that he or she did not have sufficient mental capacity to justify criminal punishment. In order to establish that a person was unable to understand what he or she was doing or did not appreciate the nature of the crime, it is often necessary for defendants to introduce evidence in the form of expert testimony provided psychological experts. This defense is often difficult to raise and rarely successful.
Raising a defense requires significant legal analysis
Whether a legal defense is available in your case depends solely on the specific circumstances of the way the crime of which you are alleged occurred. Successfully identifying and raising available legal defenses generally requires significant legal training and experience. By retaining a lawyer who is familiar with defending individuals accused of crimes, you can be assured that any defense that applies to your case will be raised and that your legal rights will be protected.
Entrapment occurs when a defendant is induced to commit a crime by government actors that he or she would not have committed in absence of the inducement. Not every undercover sting rises to the level of entrapment, however, and a skilled defense attorney can identify if this defense is available in your case.
Contact a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney for a free consultation
Pennsylvania law and courts often impose significant penalties on people who are convicted of crimes. These penalties may include probations, fines, community service, counseling, and even imprisonment. In many cases, there are various defenses that an experienced criminal defense attorney can raise that may result in an acquittal. Additionally, in some cases, pre-trial motions or arguments may actually result in your case being dropped by the state or a dismissal by the court. For this reason, it is important for anyone facing a criminal case in Philadelphia or the surrounding areas to retain qualified and experienced legal counsel as soon as possible.