If you have been arrested in Philadelphia, almost everything you do from this point forward has the potential to affect the outcome of your case. From making sure you know when to show up in court to know what not to say to the police, prosecutors, and your friends and family, the more you know about how to protect yourself, the better off you will be.
10 Important (and Free) Resources for Criminal Defendants in Philadelphia, PA
Facing criminal charges in Philadelphia is a very serious matter. In addition, the criminal justice process in Pennsylvania state court is extremely complex, and mistakes and oversights can have drastic consequences for your case. Here is what you need to know in order to protect yourself to the fullest extent possible:
1. What You Should Do
After being arrested, there are steps you should take to protect your rights, and there are also steps you should take if you believe your rights have been violated. This happens more often than you might think, and raising constitutional violations (such as failure to read your Miranda rights) can be a key defense strategy in many cases.
2. Your Right to Remain Silent
Speaking of your Miranda rights, contrary to popular belief, the police do not have to read your rights at the time of your arrest. However, you still have your rights (including the right to remain silent) at all times, and it is critically important that you not voluntarily provide any information that can be used against you in your case.
3. Warrantless Searches and Seizures
Many people have misconceptions about the constitutional protections that apply during police searches and seizures as well. In fact, there are multiple circumstances under which the police can conduct searches and seizures without a warrant. However, warrants are still required in many cases; and, if the police conducted an unconstitutional warrantless search or seizure, any evidence they obtained may be inadmissible in court.
4. Key Facts in Criminal Cases
Where were you at the time the alleged crime was committed? Were there any witnesses? Where were you and what were you doing when you were arrested? Were you read your Miranda rights before being interrogated in police custody? These are just a sampling of several key facts that will help determine what defenses you have available.
5. Possible Defenses to Criminal Charges
In addition to the facts of your case, the defenses you have available will also depend on the specific charge (or charges) against you. From asserting your constitutional protections to arguing duress, necessity, or failure to meet the prosecution’s burden of proof, there are numerous potential ways to fend off a conviction in Pennsylvania criminal court. The key is to choose the right defenses and present them effectively so that it is clear the prosecution cannot meet its burden of proof.
6. Fighting False Accusations
What if you have been falsely accused? Unfortunately, false accusations are common, and in some cases, false accusations do lead to criminal convictions. However, there are ways to show that you are a victim rather than a perpetrator, and there are other steps you can take to mitigate the practical consequences of your false accusations as well.
7. Avoiding Jail or Prison Time
In some cases, it may not be possible to avoid sentencing entirely, but it may be possible to assert a defense that protects you from being incarcerated. With all crimes carrying the potential for jail or prison time in Pennsylvania, it is critical to understand the steps involved in seeking probation and the different types of probation that are available.
8. Avoiding a Criminal Record as a First-Time Offender
If this is your first offense (and you do not have a complete defense to criminal culpability), you may be able to avoid a conviction by entering into a diversion program. If you are eligible and you complete the program successfully, your charges will be dismissed – though you may still have to file separately to have your criminal record expunged.
9. Mandatory Minimum Sentences
In Pennsylvania, various crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences. This includes (but is not limited to) driving under the influence (DUI), certain drug crimes, and various violent offenses. However, even if your charge carries a “mandatory” sentence, it may still be possible to avoid prison time with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Learn more: Mandatory Minimum Sentences in Pennsylvania
10. Your Right to Legal Counsel
The consequences of criminal convictions are severe; and, in order to protect yourself to the greatest extent possible, you need to rely on the advice and representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney. There are several factors you should consider when choosing your attorney; and, ultimately you need to make your decision based on who you think gives you the best chance of avoiding a life-altering sentence.
Discuss Your Case with Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Brian Fishman
Brian Fishman is a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer who previously served as a prosecutor with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. If you have been accused of a crime, Brian can use his extensive experience to protect you. To discuss the facts of your case in a confidential initial consultation, call The Fishman Firm at 267-758-2228 or request an appointment with Brian online now.