August 9th, 2023

Why You Need an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney When Facing Multiple Charges

Being convicted of a crime can have serious consequences; however, if you are charged with multiple crimes at the same time, it can have a devastating impact. Not only can you be facing increased jail time and higher fines, but you could also be facing collateral consequences that impact your freedoms. When considering filing a criminal complaint, the Commonwealth often brings multiple charges against a defendant. This is called charge stacking. When facing multiple charges, it is imperative to have seasoned criminal defense attorneys, who have the knowledge and skill necessary to provide effective defense strategies. At Gross McGinley, LLP, our criminal defense attorneys have experience handling an array of complex cases involving multiple charges in Pennsylvania courts.

What Is Criminal Charge Stacking?

Charge stacking is the practice of charging a defendant with as many relevant charges as possible for a single event. Facing more than one charge is extremely common ꟷ according to the Harvard Law Review, 86% of Pennsylvania criminal cases involve two charges or more. Prosecutors often overcharge defendants to push plea bargains or increase their chances of getting a guilty verdict, which helps preserve their conviction rate.

For example, if you’re arrested for drug possession, depending on the circumstances, you may be charged with intent to distribute a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia as well. If you are charged with Driving Under the Influence and have a minor in the vehicle, you could also be charged with Endangering the Welfare of Children or Recklessly Endangering Another Person. Understanding how charges can be stacked is virtually impossible if you’re unfamiliar with criminal law. That is why is it important to hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, who can explain the various charging scenarios and outcomes of your case.

Understanding Complex Legal and Procedural Issues

Cases involving multiple charges are complex by nature. Each charge may involve different elements, evidence, and legal strategies. Evidentiary issues, discovery challenges, and complex pretrial motions are often par for the course when facing multiple charges. An experienced defense lawyer understands the rules of procedure and evidence and is familiar with practices in the local courts.

Criminal Defense Attorneys have a deep understanding of the legal system, the involved parties and the potential defense strategies specific to the charges at hand. For instance, retail theft, burglary, and robbery are all considered theft crimes in Pennsylvania; however, each charge has different elements and varying penalties depending on the circumstances. An experienced criminal defense attorney can effectively navigate the nuances of each charge, and build a comprehensive defense strategy to work toward the best possible outcome.

Building a Strong Defense

In cases involving multiple charges, it’s crucial to create a comprehensive defense strategy that addresses the case as a whole, but also focuses on each individual charge and how it fits into the overall picture. An experienced defense attorney will meticulously investigate the case, identify potential witnesses, gather evidence, and engage experts if necessary. They will also scrutinize the prosecution’s evidence and may challenge its admissibility through filing various pre-trial motions.

A case involving multiple charges is often complex in nature as there are multiple witnesses and overlapping evidence. A skilled defense team that can manage and analyze mountains of evidence, including identifying inconsistencies and contradictions from witnesses, is vital to providing you the best possible defense. This enables your criminal defense lawyer to develop a coherent narrative that disputes the prosecution’s version of events and raises reasonable doubt.

Negotiating Plea Agreements With Prosecutors

Criminal cases often are resolved with plea agreements. This is common in cases where someone has been charged with multiple crimes. Your criminal defense attorney may be able negotiate with the Commonwealth to have the more serious charges dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea to lesser offenses. This can substantially reduce the penalties you may face and could also result in minimal to no incarceration. For instance, in Pennsylvania, aggravated assault is a felony and carries a period of incarceration. However, in some cases, a skilled defense lawyer may be able to convince prosecutors to reduce charges to simple assault, which is a misdemeanor, and altogether avoid any incarceration.

Trial Experience

If your case goes to trial, having a seasoned defense team in your corner increases your chances of a successful outcome. Attorneys with trial experience understand courtroom procedures and how to present a strong defense and effectively cross-examine witnesses. Criminal defense attorneys who also have experience prosecuting cases provide an invaluable perspective that can help your defense team stay one step ahead of the prosecution.

Sentencing Advocacy

When someone is convicted of multiple counts of the same crime, typically a judge decides whether the defendant will serve their sentence concurrently or consecutively. Concurrent sentences are served for more than one conviction all at once. Consecutive sentences must be served one after the other for each conviction.

When determining a sentence, judges often consider mitigating and aggravating factors. For example, if you have no previous criminal record, a judge may impose a concurrent sentence for all the counts of which you’ve been convicted. However, if someone has previous convictions for a similar or more serious offense, a judge may sentence a defendant to do their time consecutively for each count.

Even white collar crimes can result in serious prison time. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney advocating for you in court can mean the difference between a decades-long sentence and a few years in prison.

Providing Support and Guidance

Facing criminal charges often is emotionally taxing for the defendant and their family. Your defense team not only provides legal advice and representation, but also provides support, guidance, and reassurance during challenging times.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney in Pennsylvania

At Gross McGinley, LLP, we believe everyone deserves experienced, competent defense counsel without judgment. For more than 40 years, we’ve been dedicated to serving our clients in Pennsylvania with respect, compassion, and dignity. To schedule a consultation with a defense lawyer, contact us or call 610-820-5450.

The content found in this resource is for informational reference use only and is not considered legal advice. Laws at all levels of government change frequently and the information found here may be or become outdated. It is recommended to consult your attorney for the most up-to-date information regarding current laws and legal matters.