Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys Zak T. Goldstein, Esq. and Demetra Mehta, Esq. continue to obtain successful outcomes in the court room. This week, in the case of Commonwealth v. D.R., criminal defense lawyer Zak T. Goldstein obtained a full acquittal for D.R. in a case involving first degree felony gunpoint Robbery charges. After deliberating for approximately one hour, the twelve-person Philadelphia jury came back with a complete Not Guilty verdict for D.R.
D.R. was arrested and charged with the gunpoint robbery of a carwash in Philadelphia. Prosecutors alleged that D.R. previously worked at the car wash and had transferred to another location. On the day in question, D.R. allegedly attempted to steal approximately $200 from the tip jar and walk away. When one of the carwash employees grabbed D.R. by the jacket in an attempt to get the money back, D.R. pulled a gun on the employee. The employee let go, and D.R. fled the scene.
The employees called the manager of the carwash and provided police with D.R.’s name and contact information. D.R. was arrested shortly thereafter and charged with gunpoint robbery. The manager claimed that shortly before trial, D.R. approached him on the street and apologized for messing up. Believing that they had a strong case, prosecutors made a final plea offer of nearly a decade in prison in exchange for a guilty plea.
Fortunately, D.R. retained Attorney Zak Goldstein and decided to fight the case from the beginning. Through cross examination of the complaining witnesses at the preliminary hearing, Attorney Goldstein developed significant inconsistencies between the testimony of the complainants at the preliminary hearing and the statements which they had given to the police. For example, the main complainant gave conflicting descriptions as to the color of the gun, and the second complainant eventually admitted that although he had been able to see the whole incident, he was not sure if he had actually seen a gun. Further, the complainants admitted that they had only seen D.R.’s hands come out of the tip box, so they were unable to tell for certain if he had put any money in the box with which to make change.
Everyone involved admitted to knowing each other from working for the same company, so a misidentification defense was not viable. Instead, because police searched D.R. and his house and never found a gun, and the complainants contradicted themselves and each other at the preliminary hearing, Attorney Goldstein successfully argued to the jury that the complainants had fabricated the robbery. Instead, D.R. had simply been making change out of the tip jar, leading to a serious misunderstanding. Believing that they had been stolen from and disrespected, the complainants used the magic words to get someone locked up in Philadelphia – gun. When the stories of the witnesses changed even further at trial, Attorney Goldstein was able to show the jury that the witnesses simply could not be believed in such a serious case.
After the prosecution rested, the defense moved for a judgment of acquittal on the gun charges. A motion for judgment of acquittal asks the trial judge to rule that the prosecution has submitted insufficient evidence for a charge or case to even go to the jury for a verdict. It allows the trial judge to find the defendant not guilty of all or some charges before the jury is asked to come back with a verdict. In this case, the defense argued that because the complainant could not consistently describe the gun or provide any real details about what it looked like, the prosecution failed to provide any evidence that the defendant ever possessed an operable firearm. Operability is an element of many Pennsylvania firearms statutes.
The trial judge agreed, finding the defendant not guilty of VUFA Sec. 6108 (possessing a gun on the streets of Philadelphia) and VUFA Sec. 6106 (possessing a concealed gun without a license to carry). With the gun charges disposed of, the defendant remained charged only with Robbery (F1). After closing arguments, the jury deliberated for approximately one hour before finding D.R. Not Guilty of Robbery.
Commonwealth v. J.W. – Attorney Demetra Mehta obtained a full acquittal following a bench trial on charges of Forgery, Access Device Fraud, and related misdemeanors. In this case, the prosecution alleged that J.W. had used a stolen credit card to book a hotel room in Center City. The hotel received a phone call from a complaining witness in Florida who claimed that she had just noticed her card had been used without her permission. The hotel determined that the card had been used to rent a room in J.W.’s name and called the police. When police arrived, they went to the hotel room and arrested J.W. Despite searching the room, police were unable to find the credit card which had allegedly been used. Attorney Mehta successfully persuaded the judge to find that reasonable doubt existed because police never found the credit card in J.W.’s possession and because the prosecution could not locate the clerk who actually provided the hotel room. Thus, there was no testimony in the record that J.W. had personally signed for the room or used a credit card at any time. Instead, the evidence showed only that the room had been put in his name, and anyone could have put the room in his name. The trial judge found J.W. Not Guilty of all charges.
Commonwealth v. C.R. – C.R. was charged with robbery, assault, and conspiracy for allegedly taking a complainant’s purse while the complainant was engaged in a fight with other people on the block. Bail was set at $125,000. Fortunately, Attorney Goldstein was able to obtain video from social media which showed that C.R. had nothing to do with the incident. Instead, he had at most been merely present on the block while the complainant fought with other people. Although some other person did in fact appear to take her purse, the video clearly showed that the complainant received her purse back and did not have anything stolen with her. After Attorney Goldstein showed the video to the assigned prosecutor, the prosecution immediately agreed to reduce the bail to Sign On Bond (meaning C.R. would not have to post bail to be released) while they investigated the complainant’s story. At the next listing, the prosecution withdrew all charges.
Commonwealth v. A.G. – Our defense attorneys convinced the prosecution to withdraw Possession with the Intent to Deliver charges at the preliminary hearing in a case where police arrested the defendant and found approximately thirty grams of marijuana, a scale, and packaging in the car. Our defense lawyers successfully convinced the prosecutor that he would be unable to prove that the marijuana was not for personal use, thereby resulting in the dismissal of all of the felony charges.
Commonwealth v. M.H. – Obtained entry into the ARD program for defendant charged with possession of marijuana and endangering the welfare of a child. After a short period of probation, all charges will be dismissed and eligible for expungement.
Commonwealth v. M.S. – Obtained entry into the ARD program for a defendant charged with a first-offense DUI. Our defense attorneys also advised M.S. through the process of dealing with the relevant State Professional Licensing Agency, resulting in a decision by the Agency to bring no disciplinary actions against M.S.’ professional license. All charges will be eligible for dismissal and expungement after a short period of probation.
Commonwealth v. B.M. – Successfully negotiated a short house arrest sentence and period of probation for defendant charged with Possession with the Intent to Deliver. Although the defendant was initially charged with selling both marijuana and PCP, Attorney Goldstein convinced the Municipal Court judge to dismiss the PCP distribution charge at the preliminary hearing, resulting in a much lower potential sentence under the sentencing guidelines and the ability to negotiate for house arrest.
Commonwealth v. K.J. – All charges dismissed in Burglary and Firearms case at the preliminary hearing.
Commonwealth v. N.D. – N.D. was charged with Aggravated Assault as a felony of the first degree. Our criminal defense lawyers were successfully able to negotiate a plea deal of probation on a misdemeanor Simple Assault charge, meaning that N.D. will avoid a felony conviction and any jail time. The prosecution had previously offered only years in state prison on the felony charge, but because our attorneys were prepared to take the case to trial in front of a jury, we were able to obtain the significantly better outcome for our client.
Commonwealth v. B.L. – Negotiated for client charged with domestic assault to be admitted to the Domestic Violence diversionary program. Charges were withdrawn after B.L. completed counseling sessions, community service, and paid a small fine. The charges are eligible to be expunged.
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