Violent crimes such as assault, manslaughter, and murder are among the most heavily prosecuted crimes in Pennsylvania. If you have been charged with one of these crimes, you are facing severe penalties, and you can expect the prosecutor’s office to fight vigorously to secure a conviction and substantial sentence at trial. You may have defenses available, but in order to assert these defenses effectively, you are going to need an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense attorney on your side.
7 Important Facts about Facing Prosecution for a Violent Crime in Philadelphia
Due to the potential for severe, life-altering consequences, if you are convicted, you need to do everything possible to protect yourself, and this starts with making informed decisions. With this in mind, here are seven important facts about facing prosecution for a violent crime in Philadelphia:
1. Your Case is Not Simply Going to Go Away
First, you need to accept that you need to deal with your situation. Criminal charges do not simply go away, and your case is not going to “fall through the cracks.” Regardless of what you think about the truth of the allegations against you, you need to defend yourself in order to avoid being convicted and sent to jail—quite possibly for a very long time.
Dealing with your situation means making sure you know your court dates, hiring a defense lawyer, and making sure you protect your legal rights. You should follow your attorney’s advice when it comes to dealing with the police, prosecutors, and corrections officers, and you must be extremely careful to avoid doing anything that could make it more difficult to fight your violent crime charge at trial.
2. There are Several Stages at Which Your Defense Attorney Can Fight Your Charge Prior to Trial
When facing a criminal charge in Philadelphia, defending yourself is not simply a matter of waiting to present your case to the jury. There are several pre-trial stages to your case, and your attorney can fight for you at every stage. At some stages, this may mean arguing that your charges should be dismissed; during others, it may mean taking steps to limit the evidence that the prosecution can use against you. As a result, the sooner you engage an attorney to represent you, the more opportunities your attorney will have to steer your case toward a favorable result.
3. There are Several Potential Defenses to Violent Crimes in Pennsylvania
Under Pennsylvania law and the U.S. Constitution, there are several potential ways to defend against a charge for assault, manslaughter, murder, or another violent crime. We emphasize “potential,” because the defenses you can use will be determined by the specific facts involved in your case.
Criminal defenses fall into a number of different categories. These include:
- Statutory defenses (i.e. demonstrating that the prosecution has not met an element of its burden of proof for the crime with which you have been charged);
- Affirmative defenses (i.e. you acted out of necessity or in self-defense); and,
- Constitutional defenses (i.e. the police searched you without probable cause or interrogated you in custody without reading your Miranda rights).
Again, the sooner you hire a defense lawyer, the sooner your lawyer can start evaluating your case and building a defense strategy to protect you.
4. It Might Be in Your Best Interests to Negotiate a Plea Bargain
If the risk that you will be found guilty at trial is fairly high, it may be in your best interest to negotiate a plea bargain. Accepting a plea bargain means pleading guilty, quite possibly to a serious felony offense, so it is not a decision to be made lightly. However, accepting a plea bargain gives you a guaranteed outcome—and this simply is not possible if you go to trial. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to negotiate with the prosecutor’s office on your behalf and make sure your plea deal represents a favorable resolution to your criminal case.
5. Possession of a Firearm Can Increase the Stakes in Your Case Significantly
In many cases, individuals who are charged with violent crimes will also be charged with firearms offenses. If you have been charged with possession of a firearm or any other firearms offense in addition to being charged with a violent crime, you will need to speak with an attorney to determine what penalties are on the table and what you can do to minimize your chances of facing a life-altering sentence.
6. Your Conviction Will Impact Your Life Long After Your Prison Sentence is Over
If you are convicted of violent crime in Pennsylvania, your conviction will impact your life long after you have served your sentence. While your conviction might eventually be eligible for expungement, it also might not; and, regardless, this is not something you will be able to consider for a very long time.
Job opportunities, personal relationships, financial status—these are all things that can be greatly impacted by having a conviction for a violent crime on your record. If you are facing serious criminal charges, you need to protect yourself, and you need to start now.
7. You Owe it to Yourself and Your Family to Hire an Attorney
What is the main reason you should hire an attorney? Simply put, you owe it to yourself and your family. Maybe you made a mistake. Maybe you didn’t. Regardless, your freedom is on the line, and making smart decisions now is the best way to ensure that you will be able to be there for your family in the future.
Request a Free Consultation with Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Fishman
Brian Fishman is a criminal defense attorney and former Philadelphia prosecutor who has a proven record of success representing individuals charged with serious violent crimes. If you or a loved one is facing a serious charge, Brian can help. To get started with a free consultation, call 267-758-2228 or contact us online now.