Sometimes, a criminal defense attorney must advise a client to plead guilty to prevent a lengthy trial in which substantial evidence against the defendant will be presented. However, Philadelphia residents who have been accused of a crime, no matter how serious, should know that defendants also have rights, not the least of which is the right to remain silent.
A Kensington resident was accused of leaving his 9 mm illegal handgun unattended in July 2011, and his 4-year-old son picked it up and killed himself. In addition, after police discovered heroin in the home, the man was arrested on drug dealing charges, namely possession of heroin with intent to sell. He was also accused of weapons offenses.
After his arrest, the man confessed to the events that took place that tragic day. This left the prosecution with a clear case against him, and he recently pleaded guilty to manslaughter, the weapons charges and possession of heroin with intent to sell. He is 26 years old, and he now faces up to 70 years in prison.
Though remorse surely played a part in the father's confession, other people facing criminal charges should be aware that giving too much information to authorities may not always be the best idea. Police must also follow the proper guidelines when conducting a search and seizure or otherwise acquiring evidence, including a confession.
There is no legal requirement to answer every question asked by a law enforcement official. It is also possible to challenge the methods used during a drug arrest or the legality of a search warrant once a case goes to trial.
Source: 6 ABC, "Phila. father pleads to manslaughter in son's death," Aug. 29, 2012