Usually, a Reading, PA attorney’s first chance to make a difference in your criminal case is at the preliminary hearing. The Commonwealth has to present evidence of a prima facie case in order for the charges to be bound over to the Berks County Court of Common Pleas. All preliminary hearings for cases within the City of Reading are held on Fridays in Reading Central Court (read more about preliminary hearings and RCC here). A preliminary hearing is the first time that your attorney can hear the evidence against you and test the Commonwealth’s witnesses. The best case scenario is that the case is dismissed at the preliminary hearing.
Attorney McAllister recently had one of those “best case scenarios.” Attorney McAllister’s client was charged with Burglary of an Unoccupied Structure, a felony of the second degree, along with associated theft charges. The Burglary charge carried a maximum permissible sentence of 10 years of incarceration and a $25,000 fine. Further, this client was committed to Berks County Prison and remained incarcerated pending his preliminary hearing. Obviously, this client was facing a very difficult situation.
The Commonwealth’s case was based on the statement of a witness who told police that our client admitted to burglarizing a storage unit. Attorney McAllister saw an opportunity to attack the witness’s credibility and version of events and insisted on a hearing in Reading Central Court. As Attorney McAllister expected, the Commonwealth’s witness fell apart on the stand and was unable to implicate our client in the crime. His story crumbled further under cross-examination by Attorney McAllister. The Magisterial District Judge could only rely on the witness’s statement in court and granted Attorney McAllister’s request to dismiss all of the charges.