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.
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.