Have the police falsely accused you of simple assault? In the following blog post, I will describe 12 tactics to win a simple assault case in Pennsylvania.
1. Do Not Leave the Scene of the Incident
If safety permits, stay at the scene of the incident. If it is unsafe to remain at the scene, find the safest nearby location to wait for the police. Unfortunately, If you leave the area, your case becomes harder to defend in court.
For example, suppose you leave the scene of the altercation. In that case, the police and district attorney may assume that you committed the assault and wanted to avoid being arrested.
2. Contact the Police Immediately After the Altercation
You should immediately contact the police if you are the victim of a criminal assault. Most assault cases typically involve domestic arguments, bar fights, neighbor disputes, or road rage incidents.
In many situations, you have no choice but to defend yourself from a threatening and physically aggressive stranger, acquaintance, domestic partner, or person under the influence.
Often, the first party to contact the police has a better chance of avoiding an assault charge. For example, suppose you are the first party to notify the police. In that case, law enforcement officials will likely consider you 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 you fail to contact the police first or do not contact them, the prosecutor will argue that this is evidence that you are guilty of assault.
3. Identify Yourself to the Dispatcher and Inform Them That You Were Acting in Self-defense if Applicable
Provide all necessary identifying information to the police dispatcher about yourself and the attackers. Additionally, specify your location to the police, including the address and cross streets. Finally, if you were acting in self-defense, immediately inform the police dispatcher of that information.
As such, the 911 call becomes corroborating evidence of your self-defense claim. Read more about PA self-defense laws.
4. Advise the Police Dispatcher that you are the Victim of an Assault Crime
It is extremely important that you identify yourself as a crime victim during your initial contact with the police dispatcher. Also, tell the police dispatcher what the other person did to you. The more details, the better. Finally, 911 emergency calls are often played during the trial and can prove help prove that you acted in self-defense.
5. Point Out Exculpatory Evidence to the Police
Exculpatory evidence is evidence that establishes your innocence. Once the police arrive at your location, Identify and direct the police to any evidence that can exonerate you. That evidence may include bullet shell casings, bloody clothing, property damage, and any bodily injuries you sustained, including defensive wounds.
In addition, advise the police of any visible surveillance cameras that may have captured the altercation. In any case, exculpatory video surveillance evidence can make the difference between being charged or convicted of assault.
6. Direct the Police to any Witnesses to the Altercation
Many witnesses will be reluctant to get involved in a police investigation. Therefore, you must identify all eyewitnesses to the incident to the police.
Furthermore, the police must identify potential defense witnesses, take written statements, and acquire contact information. Unfortunately, once the witnesses leave, they may be difficult to locate after the police charge you with assault.
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. In fact, 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 accuser, they will decide to charge you with assault. At this stage, volunteering a statement to the police will not help your case. In fact, it can make your case much more difficult to defend.
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 cell phone to record a fight, disturbance, or another 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 of 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 a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. If necessary, your lawyer’s investigator should be the only individual contacting the alleged victim, other witnesses, or the alleged victim’s representative.
11. Do Not Discuss the Incident with Others In-person, through Text Messages, Phone calls, or Social Media
Avoid discussing the case with other people, including 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 phone records, social media accounts, and text messages. As a result, the police will look for any statements you made about the incident that may be incriminating.
In turn, the prosecutor will display your posts to a judge or jury during a trial to use your words against you.
12. Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney with Extensive Experience Defending Cases Involving Self-defense
Many lawyers advertise that they handle criminal assault defense. Unfortunately, most of these attorneys often have minimal experience defending persons charged with a Pennsylvania assault crime.
As a PA criminal assault defense lawyer, I have personally defended over 500 assault cases in Pennsylvania County Courts. Above all, I have been highly successful in assault cases involving self-defense, also known as a justification defense.
Contact Me to Fight Your Simple Assault Case in Court
I have over a decade of experience providing aggressive representation to individuals charged with simple assault in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County, Delaware County, and the surrounding Pennsylvania Counties. 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.