Use of Experts for Beating a Case and for Battling an Addiction

Its been my experience that the overwhelming majority of people who find themselves in the criminal system have run into difficulty with drugs or alcohol, or both. For some, it is very serious – and a permanent problem that they have to address. For others it is simply a matter of having at one time, done too much.

I tried to give these individuals a little bit of guidance, such as I know the problem to be. I have referred them to experts that I have used in cases where an expert opinion was called for.

On occasion I get a little feedback about what my clients progress has been with dealing with the situation.

One of my favorite memories, regarding the idea of someone getting themselves straightened out, involved a man I shall call William, suspected by the police to be a drug dealer. William’s case involved the police entering his apartment and finding him sleeping on the living room couch, hiding one pound of marijuana underneath his pillow. The search was faulty, a motion was filed and the case was dismissed. After this favorable disposition of his case “charges dismissed,” I had reason to call him. I was put through to his voicemail which said, “Hello this is William speaking, please leave your name and number. I’ve made a few changes around here, and if I do not get back to you, you are one of them.” He had changed quite a bit from the man who practically slid off a chair in my office.

Another case that brings back good memories is a case involving Heather. Heather had an addiction to the worst substance, perhaps – heroin. At one point during the prosecution of her case, I came up to her in the courtroom hallways. I only became aware that she was there when she said, “Hey Wayne! I died.” She then, after I asked, “What?”, went on to say that she had, in fact, died, and that they had used the paddles to bring her back to life. I plugged Heather into a doctor, whom I had used as an expert witness in court. He also treated people clinically. I had occasion to speak with Heather several years later when she came to me to petition resuming custody of her child. She had managed to stay free from drugs.

As far as her criminal charges went, the burglary and forgery charges that she faced were dealt with under Section 18 of our drug act which involves the dismissal of charges upon completion of probation. It required an expert opinion to satisfy the District Attorney that she would benefit from this case disposition. The burglary and forgery charges had a very substantial basis. They were not minor offenses; in fact, they were felonies. She and her boyfriend had on several occasions gotten into various peoples’ homes by pushing up a window. Heather stole the checks from the middle of check book and then they proceeded to the bank to cash the checks. For the Commonwealth it was pretty much an open and shut case. Her image was recorded on the bank surveillance equipment, but using the expert I was able to obtain a disposition which would earn her the right to have her arrest records expunged.

The philosophy in the defense of people charged with crimes includes all irrelevant, effective steps necessary to achieve a favorable outcome. This does not imply filing a motion or motions which are needless-and which maybe filed by other attorneys in an effort to boost their fees. For example, in Chester county, I represented a man named Jim. He and his big brother had gone onto railroad property -and proceeded to steal various bits of railroad property. A third individual, who was really the brains behind the operation (if you can use brains in the connection with committing a criminal offense), it was his idea to take a hacksaw and saw through cooper signal wire. In doing so he, of course, alerted the railroad police -who arrived on the scene, followed shortly by the local police department. They were all charged with the same offenses; theft of railroad property, and causing or risking a catastrophe. The latter charge is a felony among other charges.

My approach was to speak with the District Attorneys representative, and the local and railroad police. I learned as much or more than any one could learn from having a preliminary hearing. I established a working rapport with the police department, and I was able to obtain the withdrawal of all charges that my client faced.

Meanwhile the high-priced attorney decided to have a preliminary hearing. The case against his client, the big brother, was sent to Media with all charges. In my legal opinion there was no need to have a preliminary hearing.

Likewise, there was no need to file a petition for bail at the district justice level prior to the preliminary hearing. In my opinion this was a waste of time, and his client’s money (actually it was his mother and sister’s money wasted). Because the district justice first reaction would be to speak with the Assistant District Attorney, who would then take the position that the case was pending a preliminary hearing, and that the bail should be resolved at the preliminary hearing.

Now both cases are pending in Common Pleas court in Chester County. After I am retained to represent Jim in his case, I found out that the attorney for his older brother had filed a Motion to Quash. This is a motion in which the defense attorney files, asking that all charges be dismissed because an inadequate basis for the crime was not proven at the district court. After much expense to his client, and I guess a shread of a legal battle, the minor charges were dismissed.

My clients’ interests were served simply by my picking up the phone, establishing that I was an former Assistant District Attorney and then prodding the Assistant District Attorney in Common Pleas court. I was able to learn from her that the major charge, the felony, she was not going to proceed upon. The other attorney was paid two and a half times what I was paid.

Having a defense expert, and having a bit of knowledge about the usage of drugs, can lead to very fruitful cross examinations. For example, in one case the drug expert for the commonwealth actually testified that (heroin is a downer, and cocaine is an upper, and you do not do the two of them at the same time). In cross examination, the first question was (what is a speedball?). The next question was (what did John Belushi die of?). The answer is that a speedball does involve an upper and a downer drug, commonly containing heroin and cocaine. As I have made clear, I believe, by the above stories, I do not believe in waiving a preliminary hearing unless it is positively in my client’s interest to do so. Too many times, men and women have come to me after not being satisfied with another attorney, and one of my first questions to them about analyzing the case is whether or not there was a preliminary hearing, or whether or not a transcript was available. This was the basis for learning about the District Attorney’s case. Quite often the preliminary hearing helps the District Attorney’s office because they do not know what testimonial facts will fill in the gaps present in the affidavit of probable cause or the police report. By using at the preliminary hearing a (talk first) approach, the District Attorneys will, on some occasions, give what you see a written statement of the accused. This is rare because they consider written statements or confessions as their most prized possession.

Contact a Drug Charges Criminal Law Attorney

As a highly experienced criminal defense attorney, I can conduct the investigation on which to build your case. As a highly experienced former prosecutor, I know how prosecutors will handle your case as well as what they can and cannot do legally. The result of my experience is a track record of thousands of successful results in criminal cases.

My initial consultations are free, my office is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and I am available for after-hour appointments. To contact me, call the office of W. Wayne Punshon, Attorney at Law, at 610-565-8412 or fill out our intake form online.