Recent Case Results

Not Guilty: Attorney Goldstein Wins Full Acquittal in Rape Jury Trial

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak Goldstein

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak Goldstein

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Zak T. Goldstein, Esquire recently won a full acquittal from a Philadelphia jury on Rape charges in the case of Commonwealth v. J.B..

In this case, the complainant alleged that her mother's boyfriend, J.B., had been regularly beating her with a belt and sexually assaulting her. She claimed that these incidents would usually happen when she got in trouble at school or otherwise failed to follow the rules in the home. She also claimed that this would often happen when her mother or siblings were home, but no one saw anything or did anything about it. Based on her complaint, Philadelphia Police arrested J.B. and charged him with Rape, Unlawful Contact with a Minor, and Indecent Assault.

Knowing that these cases are extremely difficult to defend and win at trial, J.B. retained Attorney Goldstein for trial. Upon reviewing the discovery for the case, Attorney Goldstein quickly saw that there were major problems with the complainant's story, and Attorney Goldstein was able to show those problems to the Philadelphia jury.

First, the complainant had made similar allegations to her sister and mother prior to going to the police but then admitted to them that she had made the story up because she was afraid of getting in trouble for receiving a bad report card at school.

Second, although she claimed that J.B. had beaten her with a belt and sexually assaulted her two days before she went to the police, not a single investigator had seen her with any kind of bruising or injuries. The police officers who investigated, the DHS worker who was assigned to her case, and the medical professionals who examined her at the hospital all failed to note any injuries or bruising of any kind.

Third, there were major inconsistencies in her story that Attorney Goldstein was able to highlight on cross-examination.

Finally, she claimed that this had all happened in broad daylight in front of numerous family members, but none of the family members had seen anything or corroborated her story, and the Commonwealth had also not obtained any physical or forensic evidence linking J.B. to any kind of assault in any way.

Attorney Goldstein successfully cross-examined the complainant on these major holes in her story and highlighted the lack of any other corroborating evidence for the jury. Faced with the problems in the testimony and the lack of physical evidence, the jury quickly acquitted J.B. of all charges.

These types of cases are extremely difficult to defend and win in today's climate. Jurors are under a significant amount of pressure to believe the alleged victim in a sexual assault case even in the absence of any corroborating evidence. Therefore, if you or a loved one are facing criminal charges for alleged sexual misconduct, it is extremely important that you retain counsel with the skill and experience necessary to properly defend you in court and protect the presumption of innocence.

Facing criminal charges? We can help.

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyers

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyers

If you are facing criminal charges or under investigation by the police, we can help. We have successfully defended thousands of clients against criminal charges in courts throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We have successfully obtained full acquittals in cases involving charges such as Conspiracy, Aggravated Assault, DUI, PWID, Rape, and Murder. We have also won new trials on appeal and in Post-Conviction Relief Act litigation for clients who were wrongfully convicted or who received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Our award-winning Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers offer a free criminal defense strategy session to any potential client. Call 267-225-2545 to speak with an experienced and understanding defense attorney today.

Attorney Goldstein Wins New Trial In Sexual Assault Case On Appeal of PCRA Petition

Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak Goldstein

Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak Goldstein

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak T. Goldstein, Esquire recently won a new trial for a client who had been convicted of rape and related charges for allegedly molesting his step-daughter.

In Commonwealth v. R.S., the defendant had been charged with rape of a child and related charges for allegedly sexually assaulting his step-daughter. The client was represented by a different attorney at trial, and at trial, the complainant testified to the details of the alleged abuse. The Commonwealth also called a number of witnesses to testify to the complainant’s disclosure of the allegations as well as the investigating detective.

In response, the defendant’s attorney called his then-wife to testify that she did not believe the allegations and had never seen anything suspicious. He also called the defendant to testify, and the defendant adamantly denied the allegations. The Commonwealth introduced no physical or forensic evidence to corroborate the allegations, and there were no other witnesses who had ever seen anything even remotely inappropriate. Nonetheless, the jury convicted R.S. of the charges based solely on the testimony of the complainant. R.S. was sentenced to 40 years’ incarceration, and his direct appeals were denied.

The Post-Conviction Relief Act Petition

After the Superior Court denied the direct appeal, R.S. retained Attorney Goldstein to file a Post-Conviction Relief Act Petition. Attorney Goldstein reviewed the transcripts and immediately noticed that the trial attorney had made a number of critical errors during the course of the trial. Most importantly, the trial attorney had failed to call character witnesses on R.S.’s behalf.

In Pennsylvania, character evidence is extremely important and may be the basis for reasonable doubt on its own. A defendant who has no prior criminal convictions may call witnesses to testify on his or her behalf and to tell a judge or jury that the defendant has an excellent reputation in the community for being a peaceful, non-violent person. A defendant who produces that type of testimony is then entitled to a special jury instruction which informs the jury that the character testimony, if believed, may provide the basis for reasonable doubt even if the jury otherwise believed the allegations.

Here, R.S. had no prior convictions, but his defense attorney failed to introduce any character evidence at trial. Therefore, one of the main claims in the PCRA Petition was that the defense attorney provided the ineffective assistance of counsel by neglecting to call character witnesses on R.S.’s behalf and thereby failing to obtain this critical jury instruction. The trial court held an evidentiary hearing and eventually credited the attorney’s testimony that he felt that character evidence was not relevant because the defendant’s wife had testified that she did not believe the complainant. The trial court then denied the PCRA Petition, finding that trial counsel had provided the effective assistance of counsel.

The Appeal of the PCRA Petition’s Denial

PCRA Petitions can be difficult to win in the trial court because they are typically heard by the judge who presided over the trial. Naturally, many judges do not want to overturn a conviction for a case where they sat through the trial, particularly if the judge agreed with the result. Fortunately, the improper denial of a Post-Conviction Relief Act Petition may be appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court and Supreme Court if necessary. Judges may also simply disagree with the claims raised in the Petition.

After the trial judge denied the PCRA Petition, Attorney Goldstein immediately filed an appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court. In a lengthy opinion, the Superior Court overruled the trial court and ordered a new trial. Superior Court concluded that based on a century of precedent, trial counsel was ineffective in failing to call character witnesses on R.S.’s behalf, and the mere fact that he had called fact witnesses as part of the defense did not eliminate the requirement that he provide effective representation by calling the character witnesses. The Court noted that this entire case came down to the testimony of two witnesses - the complainant who said that this happened, and R.S. who said that it did not. R.S. suffered prejudice from the fact that the jury was not informed of his outstanding reputation in the community and the instruction that that reputation alone could provide a reasonable doubt.

Fortunately, the Superior Court reversed the conviction and awarded R.S. a new trial at which he will be able to call the character witnesses.

Facing criminal charges? We can help.

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyers Demetra Mehta and Zak Goldstein

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyers Demetra Mehta and Zak Goldstein

If you are facing criminal charges or under investigation by the police, we can help. We have successfully defended thousands of clients against criminal charges in courts throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We have successfully obtained full acquittals in cases involving charges such as Conspiracy, Aggravated Assault, DUI, PWID, Rape, and Murder. Our award-winning Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers offer a free criminal defense strategy session to any potential client. Call 267-225-2545 to speak with an experienced and understanding defense attorney today.

Attorney Goldstein Wins Dismissal of Possession With Intent to Deliver Charges

Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak Goldstein

Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak Goldstein

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak T. Goldstein, Esquire recently won the full dismissal of Possession with the Intent to Deliver (“PWID”) and Knowing and Intentional Possession of a controlled substance charges at a preliminary hearing. In the case of Commonwealth v. D.H., the Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge dismissed the entire case after agreeing with Attorney Goldstein’s argument that prosecutors had relied entirely on hearsay evidence in presenting their case that D.H. allegedly sold drugs to a confidential informant.

In Commonwealth v. D.H., police claimed that they had conducted a multi-day narcotics investigation involving the use of a confidential informant. An officer testified at the preliminary hearing that he had arranged for the confidential informant to make a number of controlled buys. On day one, the confidential informant made two controlled buys of crack cocaine using pre-recorded buy money from an address in Philadelphia. On one of the times, an unknown female opened the door for the confidential informant. The police could not see who opened the door for the second transaction that day.

Police returned the next day armed with a search warrant. Prior to executing the search warrant, they sent the CI to the house one more time in an attempt to make another purchase of crack cocaine. Officers watched the CI approach the house. Again, the CI was let in by an unknown female. The CI then returned to the police with the newly-purchased crack cocaine. The defendant, D.H., and the female, then walked out of the house briefly and then returned and went back inside. Officers decided to execute the search warrant once they went back inside.

The police report for the case claimed that one of the officers who executed the search warrant saw D.H. grab a bag full of crack cocaine which matched that which had been sold to the CI and try to throw that bag in the toilet of an upstairs bathroom. Other officers claimed in their reports that they found paperwork with D.H.’s name on it in a bedroom which contained both an additional quantity of crack cocaine as well as some of the pre-recorded buy money. Therefore, because D.H. allegedly tried to get rid of the drugs and had identifying documents in a room that had the buy money in it, police assumed that he must have been the person in the house who had sold the crack to the CI on the three occasions prior to the execution of the warrant.

The problem with the case, however, was that the officer who actually testified at the preliminary hearing had not seen any of the things mentioned in the report. The officer was only able to testify to the allegations that he had seen the CI go into the house on three occasions, but he did not see D.H. ever interact with the CI. He also had not personally seen D.H. try to get rid of the drugs, and he had also not recovered the buy money himself. Further, on cross-examination, he admitted that the paperwork that they found with D.H.’s name on it actually showed that he lived at a different address.

At the hearing, prosecutors repeatedly attempted to question the officer as to the observations and recoveries made by the rest of the narcotics squad. Attorney Goldstein repeatedly objected to the introduction of this hearsay testimony. In general, some hearsay is admissible at a preliminary hearing. In the suburban counties, many magisterial district judges have begun allowing entire cases to be held for court based on nothing more than hearsay testimony. Fortunately, most Philadelphia judges continue to require at least some actual eyewitness testimony and still impose some limits on the use of hearsay at a preliminary hearing. Therefore, Attorney Goldstein moved for the dismissal of the case because the officer who testified had not actually seen D.H. do anything. He had not seen him interact with the CI, he had not seen him in possession of the drugs, and he had not recovered the buy money that was supposedly near D.H.’s mail. Thus, absolutely everything he testified to was hearsay that had been told to him by other officers.

The Municipal Court Judge agreed and dismissed the case. D.H. was immediately free to go, and the charges will be eligible for an expungement.

Facing criminal charges? We can help.

Criminal Defense Lawyers Demetra Mehta and Zak Goldstein

Criminal Defense Lawyers Demetra Mehta and Zak Goldstein

If you are facing criminal charges or under investigation by the police, we can help. We have successfully defended thousands of clients against criminal charges in courts throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We have successfully obtained full acquittals and dismissals in cases involving charges such as Conspiracy, Aggravated Assault, Rape, and First-Degree Murder. Our award-winning Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers offer a free criminal defense strategy session to any potential client. Call 267-225-2545 to speak with an experienced and understanding defense attorney today.

Attorney Goldstein Wins Motion to Quash First-Degree Murder Case

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak Goldstein

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak Goldstein

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak T. Goldstein, Esquire recently won the dismissal of all charges in a first-degree murder case by successfully litigating a Motion to Quash (also known as a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus). In the case of Commonwealth v. M.B., the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge dismissed all of the charges against M.B. after Attorney Goldstein moved for dismissal on the grounds that the Commonwealth had failed to present a prima facie case of the client’s participation in a homicide at the preliminary hearing

In M.B., prosecutors alleged that the defendant, his brother, and their cousin had been at a block party in Southwest Philadelphia. At some point, the defendant became involved in a verbal argument with the decedent. The defendant’s brother and the man began fighting, and the defendant briefly jumped into the fight. Other partygoers broke up the fight, and the defendant, his brother, and their cousin left. The decedent also left the party shortly thereafter and went home.

A few hours later, the defendant, his brother, and their cousin went to the man’s house, which was not far from where the block party had been taking place. Surveillance video showed them entering the block prior to the shooting and leaving shortly thereafter. Witnesses testified at the preliminary hearing that as they approached the house, the brother told the defendant and the cousin to go sit down across the street, which they did. The brother then knocked on the decedent’s door. The decedent opened the door and began cursing at the brother. The brother pulled out a loaded handgun and shot him one time in the torso, killing him. The brother then crossed the street, and the three of them all left. Surveillance footage showed them walking off of the block together.

Investigators eventually recommended homicide charges against M.B. despite the fact that he had not been the shooter and had done nothing more than wait across the street while his brother went over to the house. They declined to charge the cousin. They also obviously charged the shooter, but they had not located him at the time of M.B.’s preliminary hearing. 

The Philadelphia Municipal Court conducted a preliminary hearing in the case against M.B. while M.B. was represented by different counsel, and the Court held M.B. for court on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy. Essentially, the Commonwealth argued, and the Court agreed, that M.B. must have conspired with his brother to kill the decedent and told his brother where the decedent lived. Therefore, because conspiracy can potentially result in liability for the underlying substantive criminal offense, the Court held M.B. over for trial on the murder and conspiracy charges. If convicted, M.B. would be facing a mandatory minimum sentence of life without parole. 

M.B. retained Attorney Goldstein following the preliminary hearing. Attorney Goldstein promptly obtained the transcript from the preliminary hearing and filed a Motion to Quash. A Motion to Quash asks the Court of Common Pleas judge to review the findings of the Municipal Court judge or magistrate and dismiss the charges because the Commonwealth failed to establish a prima facie case that the defendant actually committed a crime. Here, the defense argued that M.B. had done nothing more than walk with his brother to the decedent’s house. There was no evidence that M.B. knew what his brother was going to do, encouraged his brother to do it, or had actually been the person who provided his brother with the decedent’s address. Further, the Commonwealth had declined to charge the cousin with the shooting. Thus, the evidence showed that it was just as likely as not that the men had gone over to the house to talk to the decedent and resolve the issues from the block party instead of going there to shoot him. Even if the brother planned to shoot the decedent, there was simply no evidence that M.B. had encouraged or facilitated it in any way. Instead, the evidence suggested that the brother may have gotten mad when the decedent opened the door and began cursing at him and acted on his own. 

The Common Pleas judge reviewed the transcript, watched the video from the surveillance cameras, and held a hearing for both sides to make argument. The judge agreed with Attorney Goldstein that the evidence showed only that M.B. had been merely present at the scene of a crime. Under Pennsylvania law, it is well-established that mere presence alone is not enough to infer that a person was part of a criminal conspiracy or intended for the crime to occur. Therefore, the judge dismissed all charges against M.B. in this first-degree murder case. 

Facing criminal charges? We can help. 

Criminal Defense Lawyers Demetra Mehta and Zak Goldstein

Criminal Defense Lawyers Demetra Mehta and Zak Goldstein

If you are facing criminal charges or under investigation by the police, we can help. We have successfully defended thousands of clients against criminal charges in courts throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey at trial and on appeal. We have successfully obtained full acquittals in cases involving charges such as Conspiracy, Aggravated Assault, VUFA, PWID, Rape, and Murder. Our award-winning Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers offer a free criminal defense strategy session to any potential client. Call 267-225-2545to speak with an experienced and understanding defense attorney today.