As a criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia, what is unique about defending criminal cases in Philadelphia courts is that in Philadelphia courts, a person is entitled to a preliminary hearing where witnesses are called to testify live on the stand and a defense attorney has the ability to cross examine witnesses and get a good understanding of where the case will be proceeding to in the future.
This is a unique process that happens in Pennsylvania, but most specifically in Philadelphia and what makes Philadelphia standout. Often in the counties, certain cases are resolved in ways that call for preliminary hearings to be waived.
However in Philadelphia, the courts hear hundreds of preliminary hearings on any given day and once charges are established, a trial date can later be set and an experienced attorney has a well informed opinion of whether a case should be resolved prior to trial or how a case should be defended at trial.
Currently, Philadelphia prosecutors are focusing much more of their resources in prosecuting domestic violence cases here in the city. Most specifically women against abuse and the District Attorney’s Office of Philadelphia have worked together to try and end domestic abuse while on the other end, prosecute alleged perpetrators of domestic abuse in a much harsher manner.
While all charges are taken seriously by Philadelphia courts, some charges stand out amongst the rest. First and foremost, prosecutors are attempting to deal with domestic violence in a more severe fashion. Next, obviously murders are taken very seriously, rape, assaults, and drug crimes with gun charge crimes are at the forefront of prosecutors and the system in general.
Some of the problems involved with the criminal justice system here in Philadelphia involve dealing specifically with matters of volume. Because the system caters to volume and a person can easily get lost in the system on any given day, the system is not set up to deal with individuals who may actually have defenses at the outset of their case which would allow their case not to proceed any further.
On any given day, between two hundred and one thousand individuals are arrested and processed in Philadelphia. This puts a heavy burden on the courts to provide resources and set court dates so that trials may be heard in a timely fashion and an individual has their right to speak in court before years end.
Some of the solutions are focusing more on pre-trial and alternative sentencing type programs that can take some of the volume out of the system. Programs that once completed can help a person expunge their record so that their future is not harmed by any case.
Additionally, it allows resources to be put towards dealing with the more serious cases that often can hold an individual who may be innocent, held in court with no bail for over two years.