Young Business Owner Defeats Domestic Assault Charge at Preliminary Examination
A young business owner with a growing business retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team when arrested on a charge of simple assault with a domestic violence enhancement. Our client's spouse had called 911 when our client allegedly shoved and threatened the spouse. The spouse made that report to the 911 dispatcher. But when the police arrived minutes later, the spouse corrected the officers by saying that she had only been concerned for our client's safety and well-being after he had grown upset. The police nonetheless arrested our client for charges of simple assault for the alleged shove and domestic violence enhancement relating to the marital relationship. Our Criminal Defense Team assisted the client in entering a not-guilty plea at an arraignment where our lead attorney took the opportunity to discuss the spouse's recantation, which also appeared in the police report, with the prosecuting attorney. The prosecuting attorney indicated that he would consider abandoning the charge on our lead attorney's motion to dismiss after the preliminary hearing. The magisterial district judge (MDJ) asked our lead attorney for a motion to dismiss after the prosecution's evidence made it apparent that the prosecution had, at best, a weak case. Sensing that the judge was ready to rule in our client's favor, the prosecutor indicated abandonment of the charge. The judge dismissed the case, and our client returned to the marital home without further restraint.
Civil Engineer Avoids Domestic Violence Conviction on Lack of Intent Defense
A civil engineer retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team when arrested for aggravated assault with a domestic violence enhancement. The prosecution based the charges on a head injury to the engineer's wife. The engineer had taken the wife to the emergency room after the wife had fallen back into a door jamb, cutting open her scalp. At the emergency room, the wife gave a vague and confusing account while reacting irritably toward her engineer husband. Our client, the engineer, admitted to the emergency room staff that his actions trying to get his wife's attention and assist her just before she fell had accidentally contributed to her fall. The emergency physician's protocol led the physician to suspect domestic violence, resulting in police contact. Prosecutors subsequently filed the domestic violence charge based on the wife's head injury, confusing account, and irritability, and careless statements from our client misconstrued as admissions. Our client pled not guilty and waived the preliminary hearing. Our client further insisted on a bench rather than a jury trial. The prosecution's case rested on the medical testimony and evidence alone, the wife having forgotten any memory of the incident. Our lead defense attorney moved to dismiss at the close of the prosecution's proof for lack of evidence of intent or sufficiently serious injury. The prosecution presented no argument in response. The judge accordingly dismissed the case on the lack of intent grounds.
University Student Prevails on Relationship Defense to Domestic Violence Charges
An international student at a large Pennsylvania private university retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after prosecutors charged the student with stalking with a domestic violence enhancement. The charges alleged that our client had followed another student from the campus library to her dormitory late at night on several occasions, attempting to engage the student in conversation steered toward an intimate relationship. Our client, apparently unfamiliar with local and national customs, denied anything other than concern for the other student's safety while walking alone late at night. Our Criminal Defense Team discerned that the charge lacked the necessary element of an intimate relationship for a domestic violence enhancement. Our lead defense attorney made that argument at a pre-trial conference in connection with a proposal, approved by our client, for a no-contest plea on a misdemeanor stalking charge with an agreement to remove the plea and dismiss the charge on conditions. Otherwise, the international student faced a substantial probability of conviction on the stalking charge, placing the student's visa in jeopardy. The student's primary goal was to preserve his visa to complete his university education. The prosecutor accepted the proposal, and the judge entered the plea pending our client's satisfaction with the conditions, after which the court removed the plea and dismissed the case. The successful resolution preserved the international student's visa, enabling the student to proceed with the university education.
Homemaker Defeats Domestic Violence Charge With Self-Defense Assertion
A homemaker wife and mother retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team when prosecutors charged her with simple assault with a domestic violence enhancement. Our client had been at home with her child when her husband returned late at night from a drinking binge. Her husband had been loud and belligerent, waking and scaring the children and angering our client. Our client confronted and berated her husband, who responded by threatening and shoving our client. Our client responded in self-defense by grabbing and brandishing a kitchen knife, with which she accidentally cut the arm of her chastened husband. Both called 911 for ambulance service, but police responding to the call arrested the wife after she admitted having held the knife that cut her husband. Prosecutors entered the incident as a simple assault charge against our client but with a domestic violence enhancement. We helped our client enter a not-guilty plea at arraignment. We further ensured that our client could return to her home to care for her children after negotiating with the husband to leave the home so that our client did not violate the court's restraining order against in-person contact. We further negotiated the prosecutor's agreement to support the restraining order's rescission based on the husband's statement that he had no fear of threat or injury from his wife. The prosecution insisted on proceeding to trial, but the judge dismissed the case after the prosecution's proofs when the husband testified exactly to our client's self-defense account.
Restaurant Owner Wins Dismissal of Domestic Violence Case on Lack of Reasonable Fear
A restaurant owner retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team when prosecutors charged him with criminal trespass with a domestic violence enhancement. The prosecution based the charges on the complaining witness's account that she had been our client's intimate partner girlfriend in romantic encounters periodically taking place at her rural home. The ex-girlfriend maintained that our client had entered her home late at night while drunk in an effort to scare, threaten, or sexually assault her related to their romantic breakup. Our client had admitted to police detectives that he had entered her home but only to recover personal items he had left there that she had refused to return. Our client further admitted to the detectives that he may have been drunk and may have done so late at night, although he denied any contact with his ex-girlfriend at the time. The ex-girlfriend corroborated that she had remained hidden in the home that night. At trial, our lead defense attorney cross-examined the ex-girlfriend for her admission that she had not feared our client late that night but only wanted to avoid an argument. She further admitted that she had told our client that he could come to get his things but to leave her alone. On a motion to dismiss the charge at the close of the prosecution's case, our lead defense attorney pointed out that consent obviated criminal trespass and that a domestic violence enhancement required reasonable fear. The trial judge granted the motion, dismissing the case and all charges.
School Principal Successfully Defends Domestic Violence Charge on Constitutional Violation
A school principal retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after his arrest on a criminal intimidation charge with a domestic violence enhancement. Police had arrested our client on hearsay information that our client had threatened to harm his paramour if she shared any information with police about their relationship or drug charges police were investigating. Police interrogated our client after arrest without reading our client his Miranda rights and without allowing our client to contact counsel at his request. Our client had then allegedly admitted to threatening his paramour not to speak with police, although our client denied any knowledge of drug investigations or involvement with drugs. Our Criminal Defense Team moved to suppress the police account of our client's alleged admission based on the constitutional violations of right to counsel and privilege against self-incrimination. The court granted our motion, suppressing the prosecution's only evidence of alleged intimidation. The prosecution abandoned the charges following the court's suppression order. Our client's successful defense preserved our client's professional license and employment. We further assisted our client with providing accurate information and certified documentation of the outcome of the criminal charges to avoid a license disciplinary charge. We also assisted our client in communications with the school district's officials to ensure our client's continued professional employment.
College Senior Defeats Domestic Violence Charge on Consent Defense
A college senior at a Pennsylvania public university retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after his arrest on a sexual assault charge with a domestic violence enhancement. The charge arose out of a one-night-stand our client admitted having with another student at the other student's off-campus apartment. The prosecution maintained, based on the other student's complaint, that our client had forced sex on her without her consent after having encouraged her to consume intoxicating alcohol. Our client indicated to school officials and others in his own defense that the two students had spent the night together after having consumed some beer but that he had left in the morning without the other student having made any objection to their consensual activities. We implemented a strategy of gathering corroborating witness testimony and documentation to prepare for a trial. The prosecution presented only the complaining student's account at the trial. Our cross-examination, confirming the late date and inconsistent nature of the student's sexual assault report, suggested that the student's regrets had caused her to fabricate the account, which school officials and public advocates had then unwisely bolstered. Our lead defense attorney presented the testimony of the complaining student's roommates that our client had indeed spent the whole night and left casually in the morning without their roommate's complaint. Our client did not testify. The jury returned a not-guilty verdict, ending the case with victory and redemption for our client.
Pastor Avoids Domestic Violence Charge Through Conciliation Process
A pastor in a large suburban Pennsylvania church retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team when his estranged wife threatened to press domestic violence charges. The pastor indicated that his wife had disclosed that she had already met with detectives who were considering her information and whether to seek charges. The pastor wanted to contact the detectives to sway them not to seek charges. Our Team instead educated our client on the need for an underlying crime to which to attach a domestic violence enhancement. We discouraged the pastor from volunteering information to authorities, who would only use the information against him. We further discerned that the pastor had available to him a conciliation process that his wife had previously proposed, but the pastor had rejected. We helped the pastor evaluate options and confirm that he and his wife could access a conciliation process confidentially. They commenced that process, during which detectives contacted the pastor requesting an interview. We responded to that contact, disclosing with our client's permission only that the parties were in conciliation. The detectives did not persist and instead indicated that they intended to recommend that their file close. We monitored the matter, periodically answering the pastor's questions and encouraging the pastor in the conciliation process. The pastor later informed us that the conciliation process had succeeded, which the pastor had disclosed to the congregation in an act of humility and contrition.