The Mazza Law Group, P.C.
2790 W. College Ave., Suite 800
State College, PA 16801 March 10, 2016
(814) 237-6255

Criminal Preliminary Hearing Success

The criminal criminal preliminary hearing success stories of criminal defense attorney Steve Trialonas are summarized below:

Felony Charge of Receiving Stolen Property Dismissed at the criminal preliminary Hearing

Young man from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is accused of taking a rental car with three friends to State College though the rental agreement was in another’s name and had lapsed was charged with 18 Pa.C.S.A. §3925 Receiving Stolen Property. The charge was graded as a Felony of the third degree because the property was a motor vehicle and filed in Centre County because of where the vehicle was stopped. The three others were charged as well under a conspiracy theory, the Commonwealth believing that all of the people in the car knew it was stolen and agreed to take it to State College. Bail was set and the client remained incarcerated until the criminal preliminary Hearing where criminal lawyer Steven P. Trialonas got involved for the first time.

At the criminal preliminary Hearing, the Commonwealth must establish to the Magistrate that a crime was committed and the defendant was the one to commit it. The burden of proof is more likely than not, drastically lower than beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, defense attorney Steve Trialonas felt it improper to assume everyone in the car knew it was stolen as guilt by association is not tolerable. Although the three others charged did not contest the Felony charge but voluntarily waived it into court, Attorney Trialonas would not do the same on behalf of his client.

The Pennsylvania State Trooper was called to testify as the only Commonwealth witness. Under the skillful cross examination of defense lawyer Steven Trialonas, the trooper was unable to point out any direct evidence that the client was aware the vehicle was stolen, and the circumstantial evidence supporting the same was dissected by Trialonas who exposed the faulted reasoning behind it.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Magisterial District Judge dismissed the Felony charge of Receiving Stolen Property.

Four Felonies Including Burglary and Criminal Trespass Dismissed at the criminal preliminary Hearing

College student from Williamsport, PA is accused of driving to State College with two other individuals to break into a garage and steal an ATV. He is promptly charged with six felonies, including: 18 Pa.C.S.A. §3502 Burglary, 18 Pa.C.S.A. §3503 Criminal Trespass, 18 Pa.C.S.A. §3921 Theft by Unlawful Taking, 18 Pa.C.S.A. §901/3502 Conspiracy to Commit Burglary, 18 Pa.C.S.A. §901/3503 Conspiracy to Commit Crimial Trespass, and 18 Pa.C.S.A. §901/3925 Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Unlawful Taking.

In Pennsylvania, the conspiracy or agreement to commit a criminal offense is a separate and distinct criminal offense that carries a separate sentence. The theft offenses were graded as Felonies of the third degree because the vehicle stolen was a motor propelled vehicle, in addition to the value exceeding $2,000.

Two other individuals were charged with the same offenses, and both were pointing the finger at the client in order to receive favorable treatment from the Centre County District Attorney’s Office. Criminal defense attorney Steven P. Trialonas was retained for the criminal preliminary hearing with little time to prepare.

In Pennsylvania, the Criminal Preliminary Hearing is the first opportunity the defense has to contest the charges, and it is a great time to learn more about the case such as how witnesses respond to questioning or additional facts not revealed in the Criminal Complaint. The Commonwealth must establish to the Magisterial District Judge that a crime was committed and the defendant was the one to commit it. The burden of proof is more likely than not, drastically lower than beyond a reasonable doubt.

Pennsylvania criminal lawyer Steve Trialonas, unfamiliar with the facts but armed with a keen knowledge of the law, conducted the criminal preliminary hearing. The skilled attorney Trialonas picked up on a minute fact during direct examination of the victim whose shed was broken into, nothing was disturbed. On direct examination, the co-conspirator testified that he and the client broke the lock and opened the door to the shed, but moved on immediately because the ATV was not inside. Attorney Trialonas followed up with both of these witnesses on cross-examination, carefully eliciting the relevant facts to the defense that had developed in the course of the criminal preliminary hearing.

In closing argument, accomplished criminal lawyer Steven Trialonas exposed a fatal defect in the Commonwealth’s presentation of the evidence: the Burglary and Criminal Trespass charges require a defendant “enter” or “break into” a building or occupied structure. The evidence elicited at the criminal preliminary hearing demonstrated that the lock was broke and the door was opened, but there was no evidence that the client had entered or stepped into the garage.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Magisterial District Judge dismissed all four felony charges related to breaking into the garage, but bound over the charges related to the theft. [/EXPAND]

All Drug Related Charges Dismissed at criminal preliminary Hearing

Client was involved in an argument with his girlfriend while driving. By the time the police arrive, the client was in a trailer one quarter-mile away. Inside the vehicle multiple pieces of drug paraphernalia are discovered, and the driver claims they belonged to the client. The police locate the client, who admits a few pieces were his.

Client is promptly charged with 35 P.S. §780-113(A)(32), Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, a misdemeanor offense. The client was on parole, and if the charges were waived into the Court of Common Pleas or bound over after a hearing, the client was going to be revoked and serve the remaining 12 months in jail. The case was extremely important to the client for that reason.

The trooper testified to his interaction with the girlfriend along with the statements she made, the drug paraphernalia he found, and the incriminating statements the client made regarding ownership of the paraphernalia.

Mindful of the law, Centre County Criminal Lawyer Steven Trialonas argued that there was insufficient evidence to bind the client over for trial. Specifically, Attorney Trialonas raised the defense of corpus delicti, which requires the Commonwealth to establish the basic elements of a crime before the Court may consider an out-of-court admission by the defendant. Without the statement from the client, the Commonwealth’s case was entirely circumstantial.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the Magisterial District Judge dismissed the charge, the defendant was discharged, and the probation department lost the grounds for which they were seeking a revocation. The client left court of his own free will.