police officer interrogating a criminal in handcuffThe prosecution’s job is to use evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual committed a criminal offense. The job of an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney is to challenge the validity of that evidence.

The Zeiger Firm understands the complexities of Pennsylvania law and the criminal justice system. We can effectively file pre-trial motions to suppress evidence and challenge different types of evidence presented at trial. Our approach depends on the circumstances. Contact our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers today for a free consultation to learn how we can challenge evidence at every stage of your case.

Probable Cause for the Search or Arrest

Before a law enforcement officer can perform a search and seizure or make an arrest, they need to have probable cause. This means they must have a reasonable basis for believing a crime may have been committed or that evidence of a crime is present at the location to be searched.

When evidence gets obtained without probable cause, an experienced criminal defense attorney can protect your rights and fight to prevent that evidence from being used against you in court. Criminal defense attorneys strategically fight for you against criminal charges and can question the integrity of law enforcement’s investigation.

The Underlying Criminal Charges or Charging Documents

While many people assume that criminal cases begin when an individual is arrested, this is not the case. Rather, they begin when prosecutors file charging documents against that individual. Charging documents come in many types, including indictments, informations, and complaints. An indictment is a formal, legal document issued by a grand jury that states there is an adequate basis to bring criminal charges against an individual.

An information is also a formal, legal document charging an individual with committing a criminal offense. However, it comes from a prosecuting attorney without the participation of a grand jury.

Since indictments and informations initiate criminal charges, the defendant and their defense attorney will not be present to witness them.

Statements You Made to Police

You have the right to remain silent during a custodial interrogation. However, some law enforcement officials fail to notify individuals of their legal rights. These are also known as Miranda rights. Law enforcement officials must read Miranda rights before officially questioning you. If you confess or make incriminating statements to the police without being informed of your legal rights, criminal lawyers may be able to get the statements you made to the police suppressed.

Witness Statements

Witness statements can be a robust form of evidence. However, witnesses’ memories are fallible. Witness statements may also be unreliable and untruthful. A skilled defense attorney can review witness statements and identify whether there are abnormalities that may call their validity into question.

Eyewitness Identifications

An eyewitness positively identifying a suspect and placing them at the crime scene seems like strong evidence against an accused individual. Yet, when a witness identifies the accused in situations that are overly suggestive – such as the accused being the only individual presented to the witness, or none of the other members of a lineup matching the accused’s description – that may be grounds for the evidence to be suppressed and thrown out by a judge. The eyewitness’s reliability can also be questioned for various reasons, such as when considerable time has passed or when the eyewitness takes a very long time to identify the accused.

Illegal Searches

The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. Suspicion or a “gut feeling” is not enough to conduct a legal search or make an arrest. If officials fail to follow proper procedure, do not have a search warrant, or lack probable cause, an experienced defense lawyer can challenge the evidence collected in the illegal search so the prosecution cannot use it against you in a criminal case.

Physical Evidence

Physical evidence may be suppressed when law enforcement searches your home or vehicle without probable cause or a warrant. A defense attorney may also argue that evidence should be thrown out because it misleads or prejudices the jury against the accused or unnecessarily prolongs the court proceedings.

In the case of DNA evidence, the test results must be relevant, reliable, and authentic to be admitted as evidence in court. They must materially affect the outcome of the case, and the sample must have been obtained and preserved in compliance with scientific principles and chain of custody rules. Our legal team has a thorough understanding of criminal law and extensive experience fighting state and federal charges.

Sobriety Tests

An effective defense attorney can argue sobriety test results should be excluded when the testing methodology is flawed or the lab that handled any physical samples contaminated the provided specimen. In some cases, they may also argue that the defendant has a medical condition that affected the test results.

Witnesses at Trial

Witnesses at trial help paint a firsthand account of the situation. However, not all witness testimony is reliable. Some witnesses may provide an unreliable or inconsistent narrative or have credibility issues the defense team can call into question. Additionally, a defense attorney can argue that an independent expert witness lacks the credentials or knowledge to provide reasonable evidence.

Evidence at Trial

Your criminal defense attorney can challenge evidence when it’s presented at trial. For example, when evidence is more prejudicial than probative—in other words, when it serves to prejudice the jury against the defendant to a greater extent than it proves the prosecution’s case against them—your attorney can challenge its admissibility. This defense tactic can be vital in cases involving drug crimes.

Chain of custody issues can also be grounds for your attorney to challenge evidence if they can argue it may have been tampered with or contaminated by law enforcement, the testing facility, the storage facility, or any other party in the custody chain.

During the trial phase, an experienced Philadelphia criminal lawyer can aggressively defend you by pointing out inconsistencies in witness statements, challenging prior convictions, and objecting to prosecution arguments.

All evidence introduced by the prosecution must meet the burden of proof to achieve a guilty verdict in the case against you. Your attorney will try to argue how the prosecution’s case falls well below this high threshold.

How an Experienced Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

If you are facing criminal charges, talk to an aggressive Philadelphia criminal defense attorney. At The Zeiger Firm, we provide a strong defense through effective advocacy and always focusing on protecting our clients’ rights. Our criminal defense team has extensive knowledge of the Pennsylvania criminal justice system and an impressive track record of defending clients from serious state and federal charges. We know how to effectively challenge an array of evidence by filing motions and presenting compelling arguments at trial.

Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer today for a confidential legal consultation. We stand ready to assist you.