recent case results

Not Guilty: Attorney Goldstein Wins Murder Trial

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak Goldstein

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak Goldstein

Criminal defense lawyer Zak T. Goldstein, Esquire recently obtained a full acquittal from a Philadelphia jury in the case of Commonwealth v. K.E. for a client charged with Murder and Possession of an Instrument of Crime (“PIC”).

According to the police, K.E. and the decedent worked together at the airport. They became involved in a verbal argument after K.E. was part of a group of co-workers which broke up a physical fight between the decedent and another co-worker in the break room. Prosecutors claimed that the decedent pushed K.E., and K.E. then stabbed him one time in the leg, severing the femoral artery and quickly causing the decedent to bleed to death. The Commonwealth argued that K.E. did not act in self-defense and that he showed consciousness of guilt by allegedly fleeing the scene, hiding the knife, and telling the police that he had stabbed the decedent with keys after being punched. Police arrested K.E. a few minutes from the scene of the incident when K.E. walked over to a patrol officer and told the officer that he was the person they were looking for and that he had been punched and responded by stabbing the decedent with his keys. At that time, K.E. did not know that the decedent had died, and he later gave a statement to detectives in which he claimed self-defense but maintained that he had committed the stabbing with his keys. Three days later, however, an airport employee found a bloody knife near where the stabbing occurred, and police quickly concluded that that knife must have been used in the stabbing. Accordingly, they charged the defendant with Murder and PIC.

Fortunately, K.E. retained Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Zak Goldstein. At the time, the defendant had initially been held on $250,000 bail. However, Attorney Goldstein was quickly able to file a motion for release on house arrest pursuant to Pennsylvania’s Speedy Trial Rule (Rule 600B) and have the defendant released pending trial. This made it much easier to prepare for court and investigate the case.

K.E. decided to proceed by way of jury trial, meaning that a jury panel of twelve Philadelphians would be tasked with deciding whether K.E. committed the stabbing with malice or whether he had acted in self-defense. Because prosecutors charged K.E. with third-degree Murder, they would not have had to show that K.E. had intentionally killed the decedent in order to obtain a conviction. Instead, they needed to show only that K.E. had acted with malice – meaning he had acted recklessly and in conscious disregard of a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury with an extreme indifference to the value of human life.

Through effective cross-examination of the Commonwealth’s witnesses, Attorney Goldstein was able to show that the defendant had not in any way meant to kill the decedent and had instead acted in self-defense. The evidence ultimately showed that although K.E. had a reputation for being a peaceful, non-violent person who had never been involved in any kind of violence before, the decedent had attempted to fight a supervisor shortly before the incident, had attacked a different co-worker just minutes before the incident, and had then attacked the defendant from behind by knocking him to the ground prior to the defendant stabbing him one time in the leg with a small knife in self-defense.

Attorney Goldstein also presented the testimony of the defendant. He testified that he had been part of breaking up the fight between the decedent and the other co-worker and that he had then been attacked from behind by surprise as he turned to walk away. After he was knocked to the ground, he felt that the decedent was going to continue assaulting him, and he quickly defended himself by stabbing him one time in the leg with a knife. He admitted to and apologized for not being totally honest with the police about the keys, but he adamantly refuted the Commonwealth’s allegations that he had acted out of malice, been the aggressor in the fight, and that he did not need to defend himself with deadly force. Ultimately, many of the witnesses agreed that the decedent had actually been the aggressor, and it was also an extremely unexpected result that the decedent would unfortunately die from one stab wound to the leg with a two inch knife. Attorney Goldstein was also able to get the Medical Examiner who conducted the autopsy to agree that based on the nature of the injury, the decedent could have been moving at the time that he was stabbed, suggesting that he may have been moving towards K.E. to continue assaulting him. Thus, Attorney Goldstein argued both that K.E. had acted in self-defense and that he had not acted with malice because one would not expect a person to die from a relatively small knife wound to the leg.

After deliberating for nearly eight hours, the Philadelphia jury of twelve citizens returned a verdict of Not Guilty to both charges. K.E. was acquitted of Murder and Possessing an Instrument of Crime. This verdict is an example of the law of self-defense in Pennsylvania. If a person is in genuine, reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury, then they may defend themselves with deadly force. Even if that force results in death to another person, the person has not committed a crime because you have the right to defend yourself.

Facing criminal charges? We can help.

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Zak Goldstein

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney 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, 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.

Not Guilty – Attorney Goldstein Wins Acquittal in Possession with the Intent to Deliver Case

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Zak Goldstein

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Zak Goldstein

Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer Zak T. Goldstein, Esquire recently won a full acquittal in the case of Commonwealth v. D.V. following a bench trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The case involved charges of Possession with the Intent to Deliver and Knowing and Intentional Possession of a controlled substance.

In D.V., police officers alleged that they set up a narcotics surveillance in the Kensington area. Two veteran narcotics officers parked their car at an area known for a high level of drug sales and began watching the corner. Shortly thereafter, they claimed to have seen the defendant standing at the intersection right near their car. The defendant then allegedly engaged in three hand to hand transactions with alleged buyers in which the officers claimed that they saw the defendant accept money from the individuals, cross the street to what appeared to be a stash location, retrieve small objects consistent with drug packaging, and then provide those objects to the alleged buyers.

All three alleged buyers left the area shortly after the hand-to-hands and were promptly stopped by backup officers and found to be in possession of various controlled substances like heroin, crack, and marijuana. After arresting the buyers, the officers attempted to arrest D.V.. They claimed, however, that as they pulled up, D.V. took off running. They chased him and caught him after he fell. When they arrested him, he apparently had matching drugs and a large amount of money on him. They also recovered additional drugs from the stash location.

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D.V. retained Attorney Goldstein for trial and elected to have the judge decide the case instead of a jury. Although the officer’s testimony, if believed, certainly would have been enough evidence to convict D.V. due to the number of alleged transactions and the presence of matching drugs on the buyers and seller, Attorney Goldstein was able to destroy the officer’s credibility on cross-examination.

First, Attorney Goldstein highlighted that the claimed locations of the arrests of the buyers made absolutely no sense because they were all allegedly arrested within eyesight of the corner where the defendant was supposedly selling drugs. Thus, if the defendant had really been out there selling drugs, he would have seen the buyers get arrested and been able to leave before engaging in more sales.

Second, Attorney Goldstein highlighted discrepancies between the officer’s testimony at the preliminary hearing and at trial. At the preliminary hearing, the officer testified that he had not been able to see the defendant actually reach into the stash location because it was behind a building, but he knew that it was used as a stash from prior arrests. At trial, he claimed that he could actually see into the location and see the defendant pick up objects.

Third, Attorney Goldstein highlighted the fact that D.V. sustained severe injuries to his face and teeth when arrested. Although the police claimed that these injuries occurred as the result of a fall, it was clear from photos taken shortly taken after the incident that it was unlikely that D.V. was injured from falling. Further, the officers’ explanations for the injuries were inconsistent and contradictory on cross examination.

Finally, Attorney Goldstein introduced evidence that one of the backup officers involved in the case had recently been arrested by the Pennsylvania State Police and that other officers had previously been suspended for police brutality allegations.

After the judge viewed the injury photos, heard the cross-examination, and saw that the police story just did not add up, the judge concluded that she had reasonable doubt and found D.V. not guilty of all charges.

Facing criminal charges? We can help.

Demetra Mehta and Zak Goldstein - Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorneys

Demetra Mehta and Zak Goldstein - Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorneys

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 state and federal 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.

The National Trial Lawyers Announces Zak Goldstein as One of Its Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyers in Pennsylvania

For Immediate Release

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The National Trial Lawyers is pleased to announce that Zak Goldstein of Goldstein Mehta, LLC in Philadelphia has been selected for inclusion into its Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyers in Pennsylvania, an honor given to only a select group of lawyers for their superior skills and qualifications in the field.  Membership in this exclusive organization is by invitation only and is limited to the top 100 attorneys in each state or region who have demonstrated excellence and have achieved outstanding results in their careers in either civil plaintiff or criminal defense law.

The National Trial Lawyers is a professional organization comprised of the premier trial lawyers from across the country who have demonstrated exceptional qualifications in criminal defense or civil plaintiff law. The National Trial Lawyers provides accreditation to these distinguished attorneys, and provides essential legal news, information, and continuing education to trial lawyers across the United States.

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak Goldstein

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak Goldstein

With the selection of Zak Goldstein by The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100, Mr. Goldstein has shown that he exemplifies superior qualifications, leadership skills, and trial results as a trial lawyer. The selection process for this elite honor is based on a multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third party research. As The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an essential source of networking and information for trial attorneys throughout the nation, the final result of the selection process is a credible and comprehensive list of the most outstanding trial lawyers chosen to represent their state or region.    

Case Dismissed: Motion to Suppress Firearm With Obliterated Serial Number Granted

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak T. Goldstein, Esquire

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak T. Goldstein, Esquire

The criminal defense lawyers of Goldstein Mehta LLC have continued to win difficult cases in the courtroom. In the case of Commonwealth v. A.T., Philadelphia defense attorney Zak T. Goldstein, Esquire recently won a motion to suppress in a case involving gun charges including Violations of the Uniform Firearms Act Sections 6106, 6108, and 6110. Those charges involve carrying a firearm in a vehicle without a concealed carry permit, carrying a firearm on the streets of Philadelphia, and possessing a firearm with a missing or obliterated serial number. The court’s decision to grant the motion to suppress resulted in the dismissal of all of the gun charges against A.T.

In A.T., Philadelphia police conducted the stop of a car in which the defendant was a passenger. Officers claimed that when they ran the car’s license plate through the NCIC system, the system returned a result indicating that it had no records for the car. The officers, believing that this could possibly, but not definitely, mean that that the car was unregistered, then proceeded to stop the car without any other indications of criminal activity or motor vehicle code violations.

The officers activated their lights and sirens, and the car pulled over on command. The officers claimed that when they approached the car to ask for the paperwork, they were immediately able to smell a potent odor of marijuana. The officer, however, testified that he was able to smell both fresh and burnt marijuana. They then testified that the driver admitted to having smoked marijuana recently.

While dealing with the driver, the officer saw the defendant in the back of the car playing with his cell phone. The officer speculated that the defendant was not trying to engage and was trying to keep the focus away from him. They then saw a backpack next to the defendant and asked him about it, and the defendant said it was his. The officers, while attempting to locate the source of the marijuana odor, searched the bag and found a gun with a serial number which had been filed off. They asked the defendant if it was his gun, and he apparently told them that it was his. They also claimed that the backpack had the defendant’s name on it, thereby further proving that the bag and the gun inside of it belonged to the defendant. Finally, they testified that they found a small amount of marijuana in the center console. In total, officers found one yellow tinted glass jar which contained about a gram of marijuana. They did not find any evidence in the car that marijuana had recently been consumed in the car such as roaches or other paraphernalia.

On paper, the case looked difficult because police claimed that they had smelled marijuana and ultimately found marijuana. As a general rule, police officers may conduct the search of a car and the contents of the car when they have probable cause to do so. Probable cause means that based on the totality of the circumstances, including the officers’ experience and training, they are likely to find some contraband or evidence of a crime as a result of a search. When police have probable cause to search a car, they usually do not have to get a warrant first unless the car is parked in the suspect’s driveway. Even though Philadelphia prosecutors do not charge people with the possession of small amounts of marijuana anymore, the possession of even a gram of marijuana remains illegal under state and federal law. Therefore, police officers will frequently assert that they had probable cause based on the odor of marijuana to conduct a search that finds some other sort of contraband such as harder drugs or a gun. If the police really could not determine if the car was unregistered and they really smelled marijuana coming from the car, then they would have been justified in conducting the search.

Attorney Goldstein reviewed the discovery, investigated the case, obtained records from PennDOT, and concluded that the police had likely conducted an unlawful search. First, there were issues with the stop of the vehicle because the car turned out to be registered despite its absence from the NCIC system. Second, the statements from the police officers rang false; the idea that the entire car would smell like marijuana from one gram of marijuana in a sealed container in the center console seemed unlikely, and the claims that the defendant would have his name on the backpack carrying an illegal gun and admit that the gun was his seemed like a stretch. Therefore, Attorney Goldstein filed a motion to suppress alleging that police had unlawfully stopped the car because it was in fact registered and that the police were not telling the truth about the ensuing search of the vehicle and questioning of the defendant. The registration issue was a legal issue - whether the police had reasonable suspicion to stop the car in a case where they genuinely, but incorrectly, believed that the car did not have a registration, but the search would involve issues of credibility. Credibility motions are particularly difficult to win because they require the defense to convince the judge that the police are not telling the truth, and the standard for the admissibility of challenged evidence is much lower than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard that would apply at trial.

The trial court scheduled a motion to suppress, and the officers testified to the above information. On cross-examination, however, Attorney Goldstein was first able to show from the PennDOT paperwork that the car was actually registered, thereby proving that the police had no real basis for stopping the car. Attorney Goldstein was then also able to show that the police version of the search should not be believed for the following reasons: 1) the entire car would not smell like marijuana from one gram of marijuana being in a glass jar in the center console, 2) the officer’s testimony that he could smell both burnt and fresh marijuana was absurd, 3) if the driver had really told them that they had just been smoking marijuana, the officers would have investigated and likely arrested the driver for driving under the influence (“DUI”),  and 4) that the police had not taken the backpack which allegedly had the defendant’s name on it into evidence. Obviously, the officer was forced to admit that they had destroyed critical evidence by not preserving a bag which supposedly proved that the gun belonged to the defendant. Attorney Goldstein also highlighted numerous other inconsistencies between the testimony of the officer and the paperwork that he had created and the testimony that he gave at the preliminary hearing.

Criminal Defense Attorneys Demetra Mehta and Zak Goldstein

Criminal Defense Attorneys Demetra Mehta and Zak Goldstein

After hearing the testimony of the officer and reviewing the case law on Pennsylvania’s absence of a “good faith exception,” the judge granted the motion to dismiss and precluded prosecutors from introducing evidence of the recovery of the gun or the marijuana at trial. The trial court specifically found that the officers could not be believed because there were just too many new details testified to at the hearing which did not appear in the paperwork. Accordingly, with the motion to suppress granted, prosecutors were obligated to dismiss all of the charges against A.T. Instead of having a felony record and facing significant jail time, A.T. will be eligible to have these serious gun charges expunged.