If you've been accused of Homicide or Assault, you may want to claim self-defense at trial in Pennsylvania. Learn more about Pennsylvania self-defense laws.Read More
Our office was retained to represent a college student with no criminal history accused of breaking into a fellow student's apartment. The client was charged with Criminal Trespass, a felony of the second degree, punishable by a maximum prison sentence of up to 10 years in jail. Along with jail time, this student faced a permanent criminal record and expulsion from the university.
This case posed significant challenges for the defense, as there was more than ample evidence to convict if the case went to trial. Our firm's representation of the client centered around damage control - showing the prosecution that this was a good person who deserved a second chance.
At the preliminary hearing, our firm successfully advocated on our client's behalf with the arresting officer and District Attorney, who agreed that based upon the circumstances, that prosecution of the felony charge was not necessary. The felony charge was dropped in return for the client's guilty plea to a summary disorderly conduct for fines and court costs only. Based upon this successful result, the client is eligible to pursue an expungement of the dismissed criminal trespass charge.
In late 2016, a ZLF client was charged with Burglary and Simple Assault, accused of entering another's home and getting into a physical altercation while intoxicated. Prior to this incident, the client had a clean record and a full-time job. Burglary is a 1st-Degree Felony punishable by up to 20 years in jail. If convicted, the client would have lost his job and would have likely faced county jail time, even for a first conviction.
At the preliminary hearing, Attorney Zuckerman was able to negotiate an agreement for the client to pay restitution to the homeowner, remain out of trouble for 90 days, while completing drug, alcohol and mental health evaluations. Upon providing proof of completion at a March 2017 review hearing, the Commonwealth withdrew the burglary offense, allowing the client to plead guilty to summary offenses, punishable by only fines and court costs.
This resolution spared him from the stress of a costly trial and gives him the opportunity to expunge the felony burglary charge from his criminal record.
A recent ZLF client with a clean record was found in possession of brass knuckles in a carry on bag, and was charged with Prohibited Offensive Weapons in Allegheny County. If convicted, some of the penalties include up to 5 years of jail time or probation, and a permanent criminal record that cannot be expunged.
It is a defense to the Prohibited Offensive Weapons charge if the item is possessed solely as a collectors item. At the preliminary hearing, the defense offered photographs to establish that the brass knuckles were originally owned by a family member, who was an avid collector. The evidence also established that the brass knuckles were found in the same bag as multiple collectible items given to the client by a family member, which helped establish that this weapon was only kept as a collector's item.
Based upon this evidence, the magistrate found that there was not a prima facie case for the Prohibited Offensive Weapons offense. The client is now eligible to expunge this matter from a criminal record.