Archive for May, 2016

ENM Law News: “Not guilty” verdict in DUI trial

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Attorney Nevins recently obtained an “not guilty” verdict for a client charged with a 2nd offense DUI in Berks County. This client was involved in a single-vehicle accident and later refused to submit to chemical testing. Based on the accident and refusal, he was facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days of incarceration. After consultation with Attorney Nevins, this client decided to proceed with a bench trial which meant that a judge, rather than a jury, would decide the verdict.

At trial, Attorney Nevins convincingly attacked the police officer’s determination that the client had failed the field sobriety tests. Under cross examination, the officer had a difficult time describing the training that he had received in administering field sobriety tests and was forced to admit that he had left out key details in his field notes. Further, Attorney Nevins was able to establish that the officer had failed to take into account the client’s documented head injuries when scoring his performance on the field sobriety tests. This client then testified that he had consumed only two beers several hours before driving and a credible witness testified that he had seen the client drinking only water for an hour before leaving the bar. Thanks to the hard work of Attorney Nevins, the judge determined that the Commonwealth had not proven their case and ruled that the client was “not guilty.”

Although it can often seem pointless to fight a DUI charge, this case shows that having an experienced Berks County DUI attorney can make a huge difference in the outcome of your DUI case. If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence, call our DUI attorneys today at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.

Spotlight Issue: Protection from Abuse Order (PFA)

Monday, May 30th, 2016

The Protection from Abuse Act is designed to offer victims protection from a domestic abuser. The Act gives judges a wide variety of remedies to choose from in order to ensure that protection. A PFA case begins with the filing of a Petition. The Petition will include details of the abuse that allegedly occurred. Abuse for the purposes of a PFA is defined as the following acts:

- Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, etc.

- Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury

- The infliction of false imprisonment

- Physically or sexually abusing minor children

- Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts towards another person, including following that person, under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.

**Note that actual injury is not required in order for a PFA to be granted.

The petitioner (person filing the PFA petition), or the protected party (if the PFA is filed on behalf of a minor) must have a one of the following types of relationships with the defendant:

- spouse or former spouse

- sibling

- parent or child

- other family member related by blood or marriage

- current or former sexual or intimate partner

A petitioner can ask that the defendant be prohibited from having any contact with the protected party and can request that the defendant be evicted and excluded from a residence and place of employment. A petitioner can also request that custody be granted in the PFA. Any custody terms in a PFA are temporary and can be superseded by an Order from a custody court. There are a variety of other requests that can be made in order to offer relief to the petitioner including the payment of child support and the return of personal property.

Once the Petition has been completed, it is presented to a Berks County Court of Common Pleas judge at a petition hearing. This is typically done without the involvement of attorneys and is done ex parte meaning that the defendant is not present for the hearing. The petition judge will grant a Temporary PFA if the petitioner shows an immediate and present danger of abuse.

If a Temporary PFA is granted, a hearing on the Final PFA will be scheduled within 10 business days. At this hearing, the petitioner must prove that abuse occurred by a preponderance of the evidence. The court will hear testimony from both the plaintiff and defendant and will make a determination. Both parties are entitled to be represented by counsel of their own choosing at the Final PFA hearing.

A Final PFA can be in place for up to 3 years and can include all of the forms of relief that are available under a Temporary PFA. While a PFA is a civil order, a violation of the PFA will lead to criminal Indirect Criminal Contempt (ICC) charges.

There is a lot at stake at PFA hearings including property and custody rights so it is in your best interest to be represented by a knowledgeable Berks County PFA attorney. Whether you have had a PFA filed against you or have filed a PFA in Berks County, contact our experienced PFA attorneys today at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.

Not Guilty Verdict in Reading, PA Rape Trial

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Attorney Dan Nevins won a not guilty verdict for a client charged with 8 Felony Counts of Rape, Sexual Assault, Aggravated Indecent Assault and related offenses following a two day jury trial last week. If convicted our client faced a mandatory 25 year minimum sentence that the Commonwealth was pursing.

The case was made particularly challenging due to the introduction of 404b evidence against our client. Following an interlocutory appeal the Pennsylvania Superior Court had ruled that the Commonwealth was permitted to present evidence of a prior sexual assault that the Client admitted to committing some 16 years ago. The Superior Court cited the alleged factual similarities between the two case and opined that the incident fit under the “common scheme” and “absence of mistake” exceptions laid out by Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence 404b. In our minds this strongly prejudiced our client, but the trial court had no choice put to permit testimony by the complainant in the former case.

Fortunately, we were able to overcome this testimony by focusing not on our client’s prior bad acts, but on the veracity of the allegations in the current case. The Jury returned to deliver a full not guilty verdict following about three hours of deliberations.