1. 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.
2. 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, his or her 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.
3. Contact a Qualified Criminal Defense Lawyer Immediately After the Incident
If you are involved in an incident that may lead to assault charges, you must immediately contact a qualified local 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. This evidence 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.
4. Preserve All Evidence of the Event
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 reinforce the truthfulness of your testimony and the testimony of your witness during an assault trial.
5. Do Not Contact the Alleged Victim
Avoid communicating with the alleged victim once he or she has filed a formal complaint with the police. You may want to contact the alleged victim because you believe you can convince him or her 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. Your lawyer or your lawyer’s investigator should be the only individuals who should contact the alleged victim or the alleged victim’s representative, if necessary.
6. Do Not Discuss the Incident on 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 for any statements you made about the incident that may appear to be threatening or an admission of guilt. When necessary, the police will subpoena your phone and social media records to review them for incriminating statements you might have made. In turn, the prosecutor will display your posts to a judge or jury during a trial to use your words against you.
Contact a Bucks County Assault Lawyer
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.