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DAVID CLARK
Criminal Defense Attorney

Philadelphia Criminal Defense Investigations

When a defense attorney is hired, they will conduct their own investigation of the case. A lawyer will review the facts of the case and look for evidence that could be helpful for the defendant’s case. They will talk to witnesses and get witness statements regarding the incident. The attorney will also look for documents, video surveillance, or whatever else could be beneficial to the case.

They go down with many different avenues for every case, trying to figure out what is going on behind the scenes with the witnesses, with the actual facts, and with the alleged story from the complaining witness.

Read below to learn more about Philadelphia criminal defense investigations.

What Does a Defense Attorney Look For in a Criminal Case?

In Philadelphia criminal cases, an attorney looks for evidence or the lack thereof in any case. If it is a case that happened outside a store or business, there may be surveillance cameras. Attorneys also look for how witnesses come to be involved and know each other and, if it is a police officer, what corroboration evidence do they have for their story. If there was a gun found, they investigate how. Is there DNA evidence on the record? Is there a weapon recovered? Is there a bullet? They are always looking for corroboration of every witness’s story or the lack thereof because that would be the difference between a credible witness and a person lying or who at least forgot to tell the whole story.

Investigative Process

When a lawyer is retained for the case in Philadelphia, the investigative process should begin right away. Generally, the defendant will be the greatest source of information. Upon that first meeting, they do not want to leave the table until the attorney knows where to get started. Who else was there? Was there anyone when they were arrested? What do they know about the charges that are lodged against them? What do they know about what these officers are saying? Would they know about the complaining witness if it was just a regular person accusing them of something?

The attorney wants to investigate the circumstances of their arrest because related to that will be various motions if any physical evidence was recovered and if any statements were taken. They want to investigate both the actual event and the circumstances of the arrest. They want to start immediately with things that are time-sensitive, such as surveillance videos or documents that might take a long time to get, such as medical records.

It is essential to understand that each case is different. Therefore, Philadelphia criminal defense investigations may vary depending on the facts of the case. For example, in a DUI case, the lawyer will want to review the breath tests, how the field sobriety tests were conducted, and if the officer had probable cause to stop the vehicle.

Unique Aspects of Philadelphia Courts

One unique aspect of the Philadelphia court is the processing system at the various different districts. Based on where a person is arrested, attorneys know where they are going and who they will encounter next. They might be arrested by a certain group of officers, such as the strike force, which is more active in East Philadelphia and Kensington than other areas of the city. Attorneys have some idea just based on Philadelphia’s geography of what they might expect before they might even see the state and district attorney. Where they are arrested and the zone of the city might affect how their case is going to proceed because different district attorneys and different judges have different ways of dealing with cases. That does not change the elements of the crime and does not change the investigation the attorneys are going to perform, but it does give some insight into what the different parties would be thinking and how the different officers, units, or districts might operate.

Resources to Help with Investigation

Some important resources that defense attorneys have access to in order to help with their investigation is access to court documents, which is one of the biggest things that is underutilized. When someone has prior cases or even officers who made prior arrests in the same area, there is a whole history that is created. Even if they do not end in a conviction, there should be documents created. Attorneys could look at those to see if they compare and if there is someone else out there that could have committed the crime the defendant is accused of or maybe a witness is making a similar story.

Attorneys only find that by going through court documents and reviewing the history of the witnesses to see if they have convictions and the arrest the officers have made. Call today to learn more about Philadelphia criminal defense investigations and how an attorney could help.