Originally Posted by Sherman90
Petty crimes and over-zealous prosecutors aside, I can't imagine deriving any real pleasure from raising constitutional challenges and poking holes into the prosecutions' case in respect of a paying dirtbag. It's dishonest work, and no amount of "adversarial system"'ing and "State vs. individual"'ing can get me over this hurdle.
Long boring story follows -
This actually made me think of a case I had several years ago. It was an underage drinking charge for a kid at the local college. He was 20 and a half years old, went to a fraternity party, had two beers and then the place was raided. The police officers gave everybody a PBT (Portable Breath Test) as they walked out the door and charged everybody underage who came up positive.
In PA, underage drinking isn't such a big deal, it's usually just a fine and maybe some community service. But there's also a driver license suspension penalty, regardless of whether the person was driving at the time (which my client was not). My client was prepared to plead guilty and take any punishment except a license suspension because he had to commute to college and to work in order to pay his tuition.
At the time of the scheduled hearing, they bring in all the kids from the raid at the same time and take them one at a time. As I'm private counsel I get to go first, so I go in to talk ahead of time with the police officer. I'm practically begging the guy to let my client plead to some other offense. Disorderly conduct, anything that carries just a fine and no license suspension. NO DEALS. Please, Mr. Officer, he'll do extra community service, he'll pay a double fine, just have pity on this working class kid trying to get his way through college? NO. C'mon, anything? NO WAY IN HELL, THESE PUNK KIDS NEED TO LEARN A LESSON.
I had no choice but to go through with the hearing, even though I knew my client had committed the offense. Well, the police officer did a fine job testifying as to his case but when it came time to testifying about the PBT device used to test my client's blood alcohol level he didn't cite to the Pennsylvania Bulletin which provides that the particular model used was an approved testing device. Ergo, the PBT evidence isn't admissible. Without evidence that my client had alcohol in his system there was no evidence he had consumed alcohol. Not guilty.
As I left the courtroom my client immediately told his dozen frat friends about my success. They, in turn, immediately hired me on the spot (at $600 a pop) and each and every one of them after a hearing was declared not guilty. All because some obnoxious cop wanted to teach them a lesson.
Did they all commit the criminal act? Yes. But I had no bad feelings about getting them off on a technicality
because some pig cop wanted these punks to respect his authority. Still one of the most satisfying defense wins of my career.
Originally Posted by odoreater
On the other hand, you can have a case where your client committed the criminal act with the requisite state of mind, but there is very little evidence supporting the allegation (but enough for probable cause). For example, say your client sexually assaulted a young child, but the young child did not tell about it until after a long time had passed, after the child told about it the details were extracted using somewhat suggestive questioning, the child constantly changed his story, and there was no corroborating physical evidence. That could be a difficult case for the State to prove even though the person may have actually done it.
I lost this exact case about a year and a half ago.