The Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers of Goldstein Mehta LLC continue to have success in the courtroom. In the last two months, our attorneys have obtained acquittals, litigated successful motions to suppress, and defended against Protection From Abuse (PFA) Petitions and Professional Licensing issues. Some of our notable recent case results include:
Commonwealth v. T.J. - Gunpoint Robbery charges quashed. The defendant was charged with being the getaway driver in an gunpoint robbery which took place in the early morning hours. The complainant testified at the preliminary hearing that as he was walking home, two men came up and robbed him at gunpoint while a third man waited in a car. The complainant testified that the robbers took his cell phone. Notably, the complainant was able to identify the two men who had exited the car and robbed him, but he had not seen what the person who remained in the car looked like.
Officers testified that when the police tried to pull the car over approximately half an hour later, three or four men exited the vehicle and tried to run. The officer stated that T.J. exited the vehicle from the passenger side of the car and that one of the other men jumped out of the driver's side. Officers found T.J. in an alley approximately 15 minutes later along with the man who jumped out of the driver's side. The complainant identified the man who jumped out of the driver's side as one of the robbers, but he did not recognize T.J.
Attorney Goldstein asked that the case be dismissed at the preliminary hearing. Although the Commonwealth's theory was that the defendant must have been the getaway driver, Attorney Goldstein argued that the defendant had not been identified as actually being present for the robbery or being the third person in the car. Under Pennsylvania appellate precedent, the mere presence of a person at the scene of a crime, even coupled with flight therefrom, is not enough to show that the defendant was part of a conspiracy to commit the crime. Given that T.J. was in the passenger's seat of the vehicle wen the police stopped it half an hour later, Attorney Goldstein argued that T.J. could not have been the getaway driver and that he was not even necessarily in the car at the time of the robbery. If there was enough time for the car to pull over and for people to switch seats, then there was enough time for the car to stop and pick up or drop off other passengers, as well.
The Municipal Court judge who conducted the preliminary hearing refused to dismiss the case, and Attorney Goldstein immediately filed a Motion to Quash asking the Court of Common Pleas to dismiss the case. A Motion to Quash (commonly called a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the suburban counties) asks the higher-ranking Common Pleas trial judge to review the decision of the magistrate or Municipal Court judge at the preliminary hearing. At the Motion to Quash, the Common Pleas judge reviews the transcripts from the preliminary hearing and can receive new evidence should the Commonwealth choose to present additional testimony. After reviewing the notes of testimony and hearing additional evidence from police witnesses, the trial court agreed with Attorney Goldstein that the Commonwealth had failed to prove even for purposes of a preliminary hearing that T.J. had any involvement in the gunpoint Robbery. Instead, the evidence suggested that T.J. was merely present half an hour later. The court dismissed the case, and T.J. was immediately released from custody.
Commonwealth v. S.M. - Motion to Suppress a significant amount of crack cocaine, drug paraphernalia, and statements granted. S.M. was on state parole at the time of his arrest. Even though S.M. had been reporting as directed, obtained a new job, and was doing well on parole, his Parole Agent testified that he had received information from a police sergeant that S.M. had run from a traffic stop and likely had guns and drugs. However, the Parole Agent did not know the name of the police sergeant who had allegedly called him, did not obtain any information about how the alleged sergeant knew that there would be guns and drugs, and that the agent had done nothing to confirm that the person was, in fact, an actual police sergeant.
Based on this information, the Parole Agent gathered a group of approximately ten other agents and went out and tossed S.M.'s entire house. The Agent testified that when he reached S.M.'s bedroom, S.M. told him that the guns in the closet were not real. The Agent then searched the closet, finding two replica firearms and a significant amount of crack cocaine. The Agent also found a scale and narcotics packaging in other locations in the bedroom.
Followers of this blog will recognize that we have written a great deal about the fact that people who are on probation or parole retain a number of important Fourth Amendment rights. Although State Parole agents are not required to obtain a search warrant prior to conducting a search of a parolee's residence, there are two key limitations on a parole agent's ability to conduct a search: 1) the parole agent may conduct a routine home visit in which the search is limited to a walkthrough of the house and items which are in plain view, and 2) the parole agent may conduct a full blown search of the residence if the parole agent has reasonable suspicion that evidence of parole violations will be found in the parolee's residence.
Here, Attorney Goldstein litigated a Motion to Suppress, arguing that employing ten, armed parole agents in a search of the house far exceeded the scope of a routine home visit and so required reasonable suspicion. Attorney Goldstein further argued that the Parole Agents did not have reasonable suspicion because they had no idea who had actually called them and where that person came up with the information. The trial judge agreed, finding that an essentially anonymous phone call cannot provide reasonable suspicion for a search. Therefore, the court granted the motion and excluded the contraband. Barring a Commonwealth appeal, the charges against S.M. will be dismissed.
In Re: T.R. - In a juvenile trial in Family Court, Attorney Goldstein obtained an acquittal on Possession with the Intent to Deliver charges for a juvenile who was accused of selling marijuana directly to a police officer. By cross examining the police officers on the fact that they had completely failed to document the Pre-Recorded Buy Money that they claimed to have used as well as all the inconsistencies in their written reports and testimony at trial, Attorney Goldstein showed that the officers could not credibly prove beyond a reasonable doubt that T.R. was the person who had actually sold marijuana to the officer. Therefore, the Family Court judge found T.R. guilty only of misdemeanor possession of marijuana and placed T.R. on what is known as a "deferred adjudication." If a juvenile can complete a short period of probation without getting in trouble again, then a deferred adjudication allows the case to be dismissed and eventually expunged. It will also not count as an adjudication of delinquency for purposes of a criminal record or employment and school applications in the future.
D.V. v. O.V. - Attorney Goldstein defended his client against a Protection from Abuse Petition. In order to obtain a final PFA Order, the Petition must show that the defendant committed abuse against a family or household member. At trial, Attorney Goldstein's effective cross examination convinced the court that the Petitioner's allegations of a physical assault were not credible and in fact the Petitioner had been part of a group that attacked the defendant. Accordingly, the court dismissed the PFA without awarding a Permanent Protection form Abuse order.
Commonwealth v. S.J. - Possession with the Intent to Deliver of crack cocaine charges dismissed at preliminary hearing in Philadelphia Municipal Court.
State v. M.M. - Acquittal obtained in New Jersey Municipal Court Marijuana possession and failure to wear seatbelt citation case. M.M. was a passenger in a car which was pulled over for speeding. When State Troopers approached the vehicle, they immediately noticed a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle and saw that M.M. was not wearing his seatbelt. The driver of the vehicle jumped out of the vehicle and explained that there was marijuana in the vehicle, but he did not know to whom it belonged. Likewise, one of the other passengers gave a false name to Troopers. Attorney Goldstein obtained a full acquittal on both charges by showing that there was no evidence that M.M. knew the marijuana was in the car and that the seatbelt could have been removed after the car was pulled over.
Commonwealth v. D.B. - Possession with the Intent to Deliver and Violation of the Uniform Firearms Act charges dismissed at preliminary hearing in Philadelphia Municipal Court.
Commonwealth v. S.J. - ARD obtained in DUI matter for defendant who had a prior juvenile DUI. ARD will allow S.J. to complete a short period of probation, serve a two month license suspension, and then have the charges expunged without a full conviction or the standard one year driver's license suspension that would come from DUI charges. Had S.J. not obtained ARD and been convicted at trial, he would have been facing a 90 day mandatory minimum jail sentence due to the prior ARD.
Department of State v. D.J. - Professional licensing investigation closed without formal disciplinary charges after Attorney Goldstein obtained a dismissal of the underlying criminal theft charges which triggered the investigation.
In Re: M.A. - Robbery charges against juvenile dismissed prior to trial.
Commonwealth v. J.B. - Attorney Goldstein negotiated for guilty plea to misdemeanor Simple Assault charges and 12 months probation for defendant charged with first degree felony Aggravated Assault for allegations of domestic violence.
Commonwealth v. D.R. - Bail reduced from 10% of $200,000 to $25,000 in Gunpoint Robbery case.
Commonwealth v. S.A. - Bail reduced from 10% of $25,000 to $6,700 in second degree felony Robbery case.