One of the more obscure Motions that an attorney can file in a criminal defense case is a Motion to Suppress evidence which is a violation of the Pennsylvania Wiretap Act. It can be argued that evidence which the police obtained either directly or indirectly should be suppressed (or kept out of court), if it was obtained in violation of the Pennsylvania Wiretap Act. Attorney Evan Kelly The Pennsylvania Wiretap Act can be found in Title 18 section 5702 and 5703 and 5704. Specifically, Section 5704 of the Pennsylvania Wiretap Act states that a private citizen may not intercept a wire (phone call) or oral communication unless all parties involved in the communication (conversation) have given prior consent to the conversation being intercepted or recorded.
Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence generally prohibits the admission of what is know as "other bad act" evidence. Other bad act evidence is any evidence that references a bad act in the defendant's past. This evidence does not only apply to convictions or cases where criminal charges were filed, but includes uncharged bad acts as well. The purpose behind this exclusionary rule is to prevent the Commonwealth from admitting evidence to make the accused look like a bad person. In order for the Commonwealth to admit this type of evidence, it has the burden of proving this evidence does not go to show that a person is of bad character, but rather that the evidence can show the defendant's motive, intent, modus operand, knowledge, or plan. This evidence must be presented to the trial judge during a pre-trial motion. Lastly, admission of this type of evidence leads to the most reversible errors at the Superior Court.
Bail is an issue that is dealt with as the case is making its way through the criminal justice process to trial. Bail is set in cases for 2 reasons: 1. to ensure the defendant will show up to all court appearances and 2. to protect any potential victims or the community at large. Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 523 sets forth specific factors a judge should consider when determining if it is appropriate to lower someone's bail:
In cases involving either multiple offenses or multiple defendants, the Commonwealth may move to try all the offenses or co-defendants together in one trial. In order to consolidate all the offenses or co-defendants into one trial, the Commonwealth must file written notice of its intention at or before the defendant's arraignment.
Evan Kelly successfully argued a Rule 600 motion in Chester County Court of Common Pleas. Based on Mr. Kelly's motion, cross-examination during the motion hearing, and argument, his Order requesting that the charges against his client be dismissed for failure to comply with Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 600 was Granted.
Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 600 states that it is the Commonwealth's duty to bring a person, who is free on bail, to trial on criminal charges within 365 days of the filing of a criminal complaint. Based on this rule, there have been a number of issues which arise during litigation. One of the most frequently litigated issues at the trial level and on appeal deals with the issue of when the defendant's whereabouts are unknown to the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth failed to bring an accused to trial within 365 days, and whether the Commonwealth did their due diligence to find the defendant.
Once a person either pleads guilty or is convicted at trial, that person must be aware of his "post-sentence rights." Once the judge imposes sentence, important timelines start running from that day of sentence. For example, if the person wishes to fill a post-sentence motion to the trial judge he must do so within 10 days from the date of sentence. If the person wishes to appeal, that appeal must be filed within 30 days from the date of sentence.