1. Do Not Leave the Scene of the Incident
If safety permits, stay at the scene of the incident. If it is not safe to stay at the scene, find the safest nearby location to wait for the police. Importantly, the police and district attorney may assume that you were guilty if you leave the scene of the altercation.
2. Contact the Police Immediately After the Altercation
In the most cases, you should immediately contact the police if you are the victim of a criminal assault. Assault cases typically involve either a domestic argument, bar fight, neighbor dispute or road rage incident. Often, the first party to contact the police has a better chance of avoiding an assault charge. If you are the first party to notify the police, law enforcement officials will likely consider you to be more trustworthy and credible than the other party.
As a result, the police will likely seek to establish that the other party committed a criminal assault against you. If your case proceeds to trial, the prosecutor will argue that the other party’s failure to immediately contact the police is evidence of their guilt. However, as in every criminal case, exceptions to this rule exist.
3. Identify Yourself to the Police Dispatcher and Give Them Your Location
Provide all necessary identifying information to the police dispatcher. Additionally, identify your exact location to the police including the address and cross streets.
4. Inform the Police Dispatcher that you are the Victim of a Crime
It is extremely important that you identify yourself as a crime victim during your initial contact with the police dispatcher. Tell the police dispatcher what the other person did to you. The 911 emergency calls are often played during the trial to establish self-defense or legal defenses to assault crimes.
5. Point Out Exculpatory Evidence to the Police
Identify and direct the police to any evidence that supports your innocence. That evidence may include bullet shell casings, bloody clothing, property damage and any bodily injuries you sustained.
6. Direct the Police to any Witnesses to the Altercation
Many witnesses will be reluctant to get involved in a police investigation. Because of this, you must identify all witnesses to the incident to the police as soon as they arrive on scene.
7. Be Careful About Providing a Statement to the Police if You Are Already Under Investigation
Typically, it is unwise to provide a statement to the police if the other party has already reported the incident to law enforcement officials. At this point, the police are trying to build a case against you – and, most importantly, to persuade you to confess to committing the assault. If a suspect confesses, their odds of being acquitted of the charges drop dramatically.
In most cases, once the police have taken a statement from the complainant, they will decide to charge you with assault. At this stage, volunteering a statement to the police will probably not help your case. If you are in this situation, do not make any statements to the police without first consulting an experienced Bucks County criminal defense attorney.
8. Contact a PA Criminal Attorney Immediately After the Incident
If you are involved in an incident that may lead to assault charges, you must immediately contact a criminal defense attorney. An experienced criminal defense attorney can conduct a pre-arrest investigation into the altercation. Additionally, when needed, a skilled defense investigator can acquire any available surveillance tapes, witness statements and other time-sensitive information.
Evidence of your innocence can often make the difference between a conviction and an acquittal in a trial. The longer you wait to contact an attorney, the harder it becomes to obtain and preserve this type of exculpatory evidence.
9. Preserve All Evidence of the Altercation
Nowadays, a participant or witness will often use a cellphone to record a fight, disturbance or other type of altercation. In most assault trials, the central issue is to determine which party started the conflict.
A cellphone video can show, in court, that the other party threw the first punch or otherwise started the incident. Therefore, you will want to preserve all photographs and videos of the event. In addition, save any torn or bloodied clothing you were wearing at the time you were assaulted. The clothing can be displayed in court to demonstrate the severity of the attack.
It is also important to use photographs or video recordings to document physical injuries you sustained as a result the assault. Preserving this type of evidence is essential in cases in which the alleged victim is falsely asserting a self-defense claim. Additionally, video and photographic evidence can bolster the strength and believability of your testimony during an assault trial.
10. Do Not Contact the Accuser
Avoid communicating with the alleged victim once they have filed a formal complaint with the police. You may want to contact the alleged victim because you believe you can convince them that you were not at fault.
However, the police may mistakenly view this type of contact as an attempt to intimidate or improperly influence a witness. As a consequence, law enforcement officers may charge you with the more severe crime of intimidation of a witness.
Under Pennsylvania, law, the crime of intimidation of a witness can be graded as a felony of the 1st degree and result in punishment of up to 20 years in prison. If necessary, your lawyer’s investigator should be the only individual contacting the alleged victim or the alleged victim’s representative.
11. Do Not Discuss the Incident Through Text Messages or Social Media
Avoid posting comments or statements about the incident on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other social media platforms. Also, do not use text messaging to communicate with others about the event. Unfortunately, many innocent comments or statements can be taken out of context and made to appear incriminating.
As part of the investigation, law enforcement officials will scour your social media accounts and text messages. The police will look for any statements you made about the incident that may be incriminating. When necessary, the police will subpoena your phone, social media and computer records. In turn, the prosecutor will display your posts to a judge or jury during a trial to use your words against you.
Contact Me to Fight Your Case
I have over a decade of experience providing skilled and aggressive representation to individuals charged with simple assault, aggravated assault in Bucks County and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Contact me if you or a loved one is facing an assault charge. Phone lines are open 24 hours a day at (215) 752-5282. Appointments are available after business hours and on weekends. Call today for a free consultation or fill out the confidential contact form for an immediate response.