Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Zak T. Goldstein, Esquire has continued to rack up wins in the courtroom. In the case of Commonwealth v. J.G., Attorney Goldstein eventually obtained a complete victory in what began as a case of First Degree Felony Aggravated Assault. In that case, prosecutors alleged that J.G. had started a fist fight with a male acquittance. Prosecutors further alleged that during the fight, the girlfriend of one of the participants attempted to separate the two men. When the girlfriend got in between J.G. and the other man, J.G. allegedly punched her in the face twice, causing her to fall and fracture her wrist. She also claimed that she suffered bruising and red marks to her face. Due to the broken bone in her wrist, the prosecution charged J.G. with F1 Aggravated Assault.
Fortunately, J.G. retained Attorney Goldstein for the preliminary hearing in this case. At a preliminary hearing, the defense is generally limited to making legal arguments based on the facts to which the complainant or witness testifies. Despite this limitation, Attorney Goldstein was able to successfully cross-examine the complainant during the preliminary hearing and get her to admit that she had put her hands on J.G. first in order to try to end the fight. She also admitted that a number of other people were involved in the fight and that J.G. had only punched her once while she was holding onto him. With this admission secured, Attorney Goldstein was able to successfully move for the dismissal of the felony charges and a remand to the Philadelphia Municipal Court for a trial on a misdemeanor Simple Assault charge. Aggravated Assault requires not only the causation of serious bodily injury, which is an element that is often satisfied by the presence of a broken bone, but also the intent to cause that serious bodily injury. Pennsylvania case law such as Commonwealth v. Alexander, however, provides that one punch that results in serious bodily injury generally does not provide sufficient evidence of intent to cause serious bodily injury and is therefore usually not an Aggravated Assault absent other extraordinary circumstances. Because the complainant testified that J.G. only punched her once prior to her fall, the Municipal Court judge dismissed the felony charges.
Attorney Goldstein then represented J.G. at the Municipal Court trial and obtained a full acquittal on the remaining charges. Once again, the complainant testified that J.G. started the fight with her boyfriend, that he had punched her, and that he had caused her injuries. However, on cross-examination, she admitted to a number of inconsistencies relating to the nature of her injuries, who had started the fight, how many times she had been punched, and her involvement in the incident. Due to Attorney Goldstein’s extensive and effective cross-examination of the complainant, the complainant eventually recanted most of her story, admitted that her boyfriend had in fact hit J.G. in the face with a rock, and she then stormed out of the court-room. With the witness having left mid-trial, the Municipal Court judge immediately found J.G. Not Guilty of all charges, resulting in a complete win in an Aggravated Assault case. J.G. will be eligible for an expungement of the charges.