Who said there’s no second chance for a first impression? In court cases where a man is accused of assault, it can be difficult to sway the judge or jury against their initial assumption of his guilt. Recently, Fiffik Law Group Attorney Ashley Rundell got her client a not guilty verdict, saving him from one to two years in prison and deportation.
Attorney Rundell’s client, a Pittsburgh man, was accused of simple assault by his ex-wife and the mother of his child. This is a second-degree misdemeanor, carrying a one-to-two-year prison sentence along with deportation since this man is an immigrant on permanent residence.
This false accusation of assault was just the latest in the man’s ex-wife’s quest to make his life a living hell. Since he filed for custody back in 2010, she has done everything in her power to ruin his life and reputation and stop him from seeing his child. She filed an unnecessary Protection from Abuse (PSA) order against him, she failed to follow court ordered visitation and communication privileges, and she finally escalated to filing the false criminal assault charges against him. She thought she could get away with these false accusations once again, but she did not know he now had Attorney Rundell in his corner to fight for him.
In cases against the state where the District Attorney brings the charges, the burden of proof is on the accuser, and the accused must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Attorney Rundell took several expert measures to ensure her client was deemed not guilty.
1. Advised Her Client to Waive His Right to a Jury Trial
American citizens always have the right in criminal court for their fate to be decided by a jury of their peers. In this case, however, Attorney Rundell knew her client would be more likely to succeed by waiving that right and only presenting the case to a judge. It is important for attorneys to be familiar with the judge that they are dealing with so that they can make the risky and crucial decision to go without a jury. Attorney Rundell knew this judge was experienced in family law matters and would be open to her client being innocent. Even though juries are supposed to be impartial, it is not uncommon for them to automatically assume the man being accused is at fault and rule in favor of the woman. Without Attorney Rundell’s experience and forethought, this case could have ended very differently.
2. Demonstrated a Lack of Evidence
The Pittsburgh man’s ex-wife alleged that he threatened her with a gun outside of an event. While her client used to own a gun and a conceal carry permit, he was forced to relinquish the guns years ago when his ex-wife first placed a Protection from Abuse order (PSA) against him. Without proof that he owned a gun or obtained one illegally, the case against him fell apart.
3. Cross Examined the Witnesses
The District Attorney presented three witnesses, and it was up to Attorney Rundell to cross examine them to show reasonable doubt. Through these cross examinations, she was able to demonstrate inconsistencies in each of their testimonies. Their testimonies did not match the statements they gave in the initial police report, nor did they match each other – Ashley had the foresight to request they be sequestered so they could not copy each other’s words. A lack of reliable witness testimony further destroyed the state’s case.
4. Presented a Pattern of Contempt
Sadly, contentious custody cases often result in false allegations from one parent against the other to improve their own chances of gaining full custody. Every time Attorney Rundell’s client tried to file for more custody, his ex-wife would make another false accusation to halt the process or interfere with his life.
Even when her client did successfully receive more custody rights, his ex-wife would not follow the court’s orders, causing him to have to file contempt after contempt. (Contempt is filed when one parent alleges the other parent is not following the order of the court – such as allowing visitation or communication – so that more action may be taken.)
Attorney Rundell showed the court the ex-wife’s history of accusations that went nowhere, and her record of not following through with the decisions of the court. This, combined with everything else Attorney Rundell did, led to the judge’s decision that her client was not guilty.
5. Advised Her Client Not to Take Any Plea Deals
The man’s ex-wife offered him two separate plea deals throughout this process. She likely did this because knew that since her story was completely made up, she was about to lose the case. While plea deals can be tempting to avoid longer prison sentences and potential deportation, Attorney Rundell knew she could do much better than that. She knew that if her client trusted her to stick it out, she could get him the not guilty verdict and ensure he would spend no time behind bars and come out with a clean record.
This Pittsburgh man filed for custody in 2010. It is now 2022, and even though he avoided these scary criminal charges, he still has not seen his child consistently for at least five years. Attorney Rundell will continue working for this man to help him improve the status of his custody and to ensure his record is fully expunged.
If you’re ever facing a criminal charge where your freedom is being taken away, please reach out to one of the experienced attorneys at Fiffik Law Group. We will help you get the justice you deserve.