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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.

Motion to Suppress Granted: Attorney Goldstein Wins Dismissal of Possession with the Intent to Deliver Charges

Motion to Suppress Granted: Attorney Goldstein Wins Dismissal of Possession with the Intent to Deliver Charges

Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Zak Goldstein recently won a motion to suppress for a client charged with Possession with the Intent to Deliver a large amount of marijuana and related charges. Because the suppression of the evidence resulted in all of the marijuana and paraphernalia being excluded from introduction at trial, the Commonwealth was then forced to dismiss all of the charges against the client without obtaining any convictions.

Not Guilty: Attorney Goldstein Wins Acquittal for Client Accused of Rape

Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak T. Goldstein, Esq.

Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak T. Goldstein, Esq.

Our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers have successfully defended thousands of clients who were charged with serious felonies including violent crimes like Rape, Aggravated Assault, and Sexual Assault. In a recent, important win, defense attorney Zak T. Goldstein, Esquire was able to obtain an acquittal on rape charges for a client following a bench trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Rape cases are some of the most difficult types of cases to defend in Philadelphia criminal court. In many of these cases, there is no physical evidence, and the case comes down to whether the judge or jury believes the complainant or the defendant. This can be particularly problematic because many defendants do not want to or should not testify for various reasons having nothing to do with guilt or innocence. For example, the defendant may simply be a bad witness, may be too nervous to testify, or may have a criminal record that could become admissible if the defendant takes the stand. This can leave the court with a one-sided version of events that may not reflect what actually happened.

It is also surprising and sometimes frightening to many people that rape and sexual assault cases do not require a lot of evidence for the prosecution to obtain a conviction. In most rape and sexual assault cases, prosecutors are able to obtain a jury instruction to the effect that the fact-finder may find the defendant guilty in a case of sexual assault even if there is no corroborating evidence or any witnesses other than the alleged victim if the jury believes the testimony of the complainant. These types of cases are always challenging because the sworn testimony of one witness, without any other evidence, may be sufficient under Pennsylvania law for a defendant to be convicted of rape if the judge or jury believes that testimony beyond a reasonable doubt.

Against this legal backdrop, Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Zak T. Goldstein, Esquire recently won an important case for a client accused of rape, sexual assault, and other related charges. In the case of Commonwealth v. R.M., Attorney Goldstein was able to successfully argue to the judge who presided over the bench trial that the complainant had fabricated the allegations and that the court should not believe her testimony beyond a reasonable doubt.  Accordingly, the judge found R.M. guilty only of minor, non-sex crime misdemeanors and sentenced him to time served. The judge ordered immediate parole for R.M.  

In this case, the complainant alleged that she had been dating R.M. for a number of months. At some point, the relationship began to sour, and R.M. and the complainant had a physical altercation. The altercation allegedly began with a verbal argument and some slapping and hitting, but the complainant claimed that it eventually escalated into R.M. having sex with her despite her telling him not to. The complainant reported this incident to the police, and prosecutors charged R.M. with a number of Megan’s Law offenses.  

At trial, Attorney Goldstein was able to show that this testimony was entirely unreliable by thoroughly investigating the case and effectively cross-examining the complainant on significant inconsistencies in her statements.  

First, Attorney Goldstein was able to show that the complainant had a motive to fabricate the allegations against R.M. because R.M. had moved out of their shared home and begun dating another woman prior to the complainant making the allegations.  

Second, Attorney Goldstein was able to show that the complainant’s reaction to the alleged incident was suspect; instead of going to the police, the complainant went directly to R.M.’s probation officer to report the incident. This suggested that the complainant was more focused on getting R.M. locked up for revenge than in reporting an actual crime.

Third, Attorney Goldstein’s investigator obtained a copy of the Protection from Abuse Order that the complainant obtained against R.M. shortly after the alleged sexual assault. In this PFA, which was made just days after the incident, the complainant claimed that the incident had occurred on a different date and described it solely as a physical fight; she completely failed to mention any kind of sexual assault. Armed with this information as well as a number of inconsistencies between the complainant’s testimony at the preliminary hearing and at trial, Attorney Goldstein was able to successfully convince the judge that the Commonwealth’s evidence, which consisted only of the complainant’s testimony, was not enough to convict the defendant of any sex crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge found R.M. Not Guilty of all the sex crimes and released him from custody.

Facing criminal charges? We can help.  

Goldstein Mehta LLC Criminal Defense Lawyers

Goldstein Mehta LLC 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 obtained full acquittals and dismissals in cases involving charges such as Conspiracy, Aggravated Assault, Forgery, Access Device Fraud, Rape, and Attempted 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.