Legal Updates

Defending Underhanded and Unethical Prosecutions

A trial is a war.  Anyone who tells you it is not, is not zealously advocating for their client.  Two sides have invested dozens and possibly hundreds of hours preparing for a matter.  The trial date finally comes.  Both sides have a tremendous amount a stake.  It is natural for each side to seek any advantage.  For the DA, this may mean trying to bring in irrelevant, prejudicial information to taint the finder of fact.

For example, the State will probably scour the defendant’s social media pages looking for unsavory information.  This information may then be presented to the judge or jury under the guise of being  relevant.  When this happens, it is critical you have a defense lawyer who will object to biased, irrelevant information.

Our system of criminal law allows the finder of fact to consider only the evidence, arguments, and legal instructions that are presented during the course of a trial. The judge and/or jury must avoid anything that might result or appear to result in exposure to outside information or influence. Allowing outside information to affect the judge or jury is unfair and prejudicial.

Many prosecutors believe that alleged criminals are bad people.  They may try to use the defendant’s prior bad acts to show the judge/jury the defendant’s inner disposition. Maybe their case is weak, and they need to lean on extraneous evidence to force the jury to come to their preferred conclusion.  Their thinking goes that a bad man committed one bad act before, and therefore, is likely to commit another.  This sort of litigation is unethical, and impermissible. Nevertheless, it happens all the time.  Many defense attorneys fail to object when prejudicial information is entered against their client.

DA’s often forget that their obligation is to justice, not their conviction rate.  If the evidence does not support a conviction, the defendant ought not be prosecuted.  If you are up against a DA who is seeking to convict at all costs, it is imperative that you retain a zealous litigator for your cause.  Such a litigator will prevent the DA from bending the rules to admit unrelated evidence.  Such a litigator will demand a judge uphold the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence and the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, as well as relevant case law.

When going into battle, get a fighter who will stop the DA from shirking their professional responsibilities.