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Dismissal of charges key to Pennsylvania criminal defense

A primary strategy that criminal lawyers use to defend their clients in Pennsylvania is to move for a dismissal of the charges filed against a defendant. This type of strategy is a key component of a strong criminal defense. The fewer charges a defendant faces, the fewer consequences the defendant will face as a result. Criminal charges are generally dismissed in one of two ways: by making a motion to a court or through negotiation with the prosecutor in the case.

Oftentimes, prosecutors will allege multiple violations, charging related crimes or differing degrees of the same crime - like murder and manslaughter, for example. When a defense attorney makes a motion to dismiss criminal charges, he usually will argue that there is not sufficient probable cause to support the charges. Sometimes, dismissal of charges follows an evidentiary hearing in which evidence that was used to charge the defendant was suppressed due to constitutional or other violations on the part of investigating officers.

An example of a judge dismissing criminal charges occurred recently in the ongoing criminal case against members of the former Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Penn State University. The case arose from an incident in which a 19-year-old "pledge" died during a hazing event. A group of 18 fraternity brothers and leaders were originally charged with several crimes. Two different magisterial district judges have dismissed the most serious charges - involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment - against the former fraternity members.

The remaining charges consist of hazing and misdemeanor alcohol-related counts. The fraternity has been disbanded at Penn State. Whenever someone is facing criminal charges, a lawyer can review the charges and the evidence used to support them, and then make a decision as to how to proceed.

Source:, "Judge in Penn State hazing death case tosses most serious charges against second batch of frat brothers," Christine Vendel, May 7, 2018

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