How to beat a DUI

How to Beat a Driving Under the Influence (DUI)  Case

     DUI/driving under the influence offenses are some of the most frequently charged criminal offenses in the Pennsylvania. When someone is charged with a driving under the influence (DUI) offense they may immediately feel a sense of hopelessness because their liberty, driving privileges and reputation may be impacted.  This article is not meant to highlight some of the main ways someone can challenge a DUI case.

     There are programs that may permit you to avoid conviction if you are a first offender. For second or third (plus) offenders there may be treatment court options or intermediate punishment programs. This article is solely meant as an overview of the  litigation points of attack that need to be evaluated in every DUI case. Also, this is not to say that there will ALWAYS be legitimate issues in the following categories – these are the issues that a defense attorney (any worth his/her fee) MUST evaluate before making a recommendation to his client in any DUI case.

     First – the legality of the of the stop: Before any law-enforcement officer may stop a motor vehicle in Pennsylvania they must possess either reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Therefore, the first battle ground in any DUI case is whether or not the arresting officer possessed the needed legal justification to pull over and/or come into contact with the driver of the vehicle.  In these situations if the stop is found to be illegal/unconstitutional then all of the evidence that flows from it will be suppressed. If the stop is suppressed than the case must be dismissed.

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

     Second –  whether the officer possessed the requisite legal justification to take the driver individual for a chemical test of their breath or blood: Observations, field sobriety tests, defendant admissions, portable breath tests and more play into this evaluation. There are times where there is not the requisite legal justification to take an individual for further/formal chemical test of their breath or blood.  When that is the case the results of the chemical test are suppressed and not permitted into evidence.

     Finally – issues that may present themselves at trial: These issues typically involve two main categories outside of what has already been addressed.  One of the main issues at trial is the factual argument that an individual was not driving. That is not always a defense that is available to him/her for obvious reasons.  Another argument is based upon the scientific accuracy of the chemical tests of the breath/ blood.

     There are many other arguments and defenses that may present themselves in DUI case.  Each and every factual scenario is unique and this is not an exhaustive list by any means.  Before making any decision in any criminal DUI / driving under the influence case – at a very minimum, these issues should be examined, evaluated and understood before deciding on a strategy.


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes to the law that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments or the most complete legal issues for all cases These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County.

DiCindio Law, LLC opens newly renovated West Chester Office

DiCindio Law, LLC opens newly renovated West Chester Office building.

Located in downtown West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania and built in 1900 – the firm’s building has undergone a top to bottom renovation/restoration with the idea of preserving and repairing the building to the beauty it once was and providing Mike’s client’s with a comfortable and accessible office location and atmosphere.

Mike DiCindio looks forward to continuing to serve his current and future client’s for years to come at this new location.

West Chester Criminal Lawyer and West Chester Personal Injury Lawyer

.

 

When Someone is Charged with Possession of Child Pornography

Criminal Defense Chester County

West Chester Child Pornography Attorney

A large amount of law enforcement resources and efforts are spent on investigating and prosecuting those who make, possess or view child pornography.  Child pornography cases are intensely involved criminal matters where not only are the criminal penalties severe but the damage to personal reputation and career are potentially irreversible – even when one is charged unjustly.  Beyond the severe criminal punishment lies the potential of long-term or life registration as a sex offender.  Further, in many cases there is a potential that the federal government will adopt the case and prosecute it in Federal Court – leading to potentially even more serious punishment.

When someone is charged with a child pornography crime there are many investigative avenues that need to be explored.  Most of the time these charges involve computers / the internet – meaning an expert in computer forensics may provide a potential defense.  Mental health and the potential of reoffending is also a concern in many of these cases meaning that mental health professionals may be employed to help mitigate cases / sentences.  It is also important to understand that the age of the children depicted in the child pornography will potentially enhance the punishment one is facing which may become an issue that will be litigated.

Child pornography cases are involved and emotional.  Despite the fear one may feel after being charged it is crucial to hire an attorney experienced in these matters and one who is able to evaluate all potential options to provide the best defense strategy before moving forward.


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes to the law that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments or the most complete legal issues for all cases These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester

Teachers charged with DUI / driving under the influence offenses

Driving Under the Influence charges ( DUI ) are one of the most common criminal charges that people face in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. With law enforcement cracking down on DUIs and the prosecutions of these cases becoming more aggressive – it is all the more likely that someone may be unfortunate enough to face DUI charges once in their lifetime.

For some, a DUI conviction leads to only a criminal conviction and driver’s license penalties. For others, it may create professional licensing matters that have the potential to harm their ability to earn a living and continue to work in their field.

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense - Conspiracy Cases

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

Teachers are a group who are potentially susceptible to professional discipline for driving under the influence / DUI offenses. If you are a teacher and are charged with DUI it is important to have a criminal defense lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to handle your criminal case in a proper and aggressive manner while also being well versed in the procedures and policies in your case as they relate to your professional license.

Teachers charged with DUI / driving under the influence offenses may have a duty to report their charges, and/or the dispositions of the charges, to their employers. Each case and school district may be different. Further, there are often services and tools that teachers may have at their disposal (and often times they are unaware of) that may further aid them through this process.

Teachers charged with DUI /driving under the influence offenses are often worried and rightfully concerned about their ability to teach being impacted. If you are a teacher who has been charged with a DUI / driving under the influence offense contact Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. at DiCindio Law, LLC today.

__________________

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes to the law that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments or the most complete legal issues for all cases These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Conspiracy

Under Pennsylvania law and throughout Pennsylvania criminal trial Courts one crime that is often seen in cases involving multiple defendants is the crime of conspiracy. Conspiracy is a separate and distinct crime and it is covered by its own statute in the criminal code. Under section 903 of the Pennsylvania Criminal Code criminal conspiracy is defined as an agreement with another that one or more of them will engage in conduct which constitutes a crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit a crime.  Alternatively, a conspiracy can be found when one agrees to aid another in the planning or the commission of such a crime and attempt or solicitation to commit a crime.

Criminal Defense Chester County - Criminal Conspiracy Cases

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

Conspiracy cases are often very complicated factually

In conspiracy cases it is not always clear when the conspiracy ends and therefore what is “in furtherance of the conspiracy.”  This becomes a key question for admission of certain types of evidence.  Further, it is not always clear whether or not someone has left (renunciation) the conspiracy and no longer liable.   These and others are unique legal issues that come about in conspiracy cases.  Co-conspirator statements, testimony against other co-conspirators and many more issues may be litigated and or involved in the defense of a criminal conspiracy charge.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal offense or needs representation on a conspiracy charge do not hesitate to contact Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. and DiCindio Law, LLC directly today.

  • § 903.  Criminal conspiracy.

(a)  Definition of conspiracy.–A person is guilty of conspiracy with another person or persons to commit a crime if with the intent of promoting or facilitating its commission he:

(1)  agrees with such other person or persons that they or one or more of them will engage in conduct which constitutes such crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime; or

(2)  agrees to aid such other person or persons in the planning or commission of such crime or of an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime.

(b)  Scope of conspiratorial relationship.–If a person guilty of conspiracy, as defined by subsection (a) of this section, knows that a person with whom he conspires to commit a crime has conspired with another person or persons to commit the same crime, he is guilty of conspiring with such other person or persons, to commit such crime whether or not he knows their identity.


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Rape Charges

Being accused of committing a Rape can have devastating, far-reaching and irreversible consequences to an individual’s reputation, profession and liberty.  Rape charges / cases are often filled with emotional, factual, and credibility issues that a criminal defense attorney must effectively analyze and use to his client’s benefit before a judge or jury.

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

West Chester Pennsylvania Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Attorney

Under the Rape statute in Pennsylvania, there are different ways in which the crime of Rape can occur and therefore different elements that must be proven by the Commonwealth beyond a reasonable doubt before a conviction can result. Each different legal term in the statute has a specific definition that must be understood and analyzed in detail in comparison with the facts of a case before a proper and complete defense can be prepared.

If you or a loved one has been accused, charged or convicted of a crime or rape charges and are in need of legal help contact criminal defense attorney Mike DiCindio directly.

                          18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3121.  Rape.

(a)  Offense defined.–A person commits a felony of the first degree when the person engages in sexual intercourse with a complainant:

(1)  By forcible compulsion.

(2)  By threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a person of reasonable resolution.

(3)  Who is unconscious or where the person knows that the complainant is unaware that the sexual intercourse is occurring.

(4)  Where the person has substantially impaired the complainant’s power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance.

(5)  Who suffers from a mental disability which renders the complainant incapable of consent.


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

 

Merger of Criminal Offenses

Many times individuals enter a lawyer’s office wondering why they have been charged with numerous counts of the same or similar offense. While it is not always the case, it is important to know what crimes will or may “merge” for sentencing purposes after trial and conviction.  The legal explanation of merger of criminal offenses is detailed below, but the simple way to describe it is that when one crime merges with another, the defendant will only be sentenced on one – showing the obvious necessity of understanding this concept in practice.

To determine whether crimes merge for sentencing purposes, Merger of criminal offenses is governed by 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9765, titled, “Merger of Sentences”, which provides as follows:

No crime shall merge for sentencing purposes unless the crimes arise from a single criminal act and all of the statutory elements of one offense are included in the statutory elements of the other offense.  Where crimes merge for sentencing purposes, the court may sentence the defendant only on the higher graded offense. 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9765.

Criminal Defense Chester County

West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer

Each case, crime, and factual scenario must be addressed.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has explained the basis for isolating the particular portion of a statute at issue when determining whether two crimes merge.  The Baldwin Court stated:

“Therefore, while Section 9765 indeed focuses on an examination of “statutory elements,” we cannot ignore the simple legislative reality that individual criminal statutes often overlap, and proscribe in the alternative several different categories of conduct under a single banner. See, e.g., Aggravated Assault, 18 Pa.C.S. § 2702 (defining seven distinct violations of law); Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, 18 Pa.C.S. § 3123 (setting forth eight separate violations). Consequently, in such cases, we caution that trial courts must take care to determine which particular “offenses,” i.e. violations of law, are at issue in a particular case. See, e.g., Commonwealth v. Johnson, 874 A.2d 66, 71 n. 2 (Pa.Super.2005) (recognizing that a particular subsection of a criminal statute may merge with another crime as a lesser-included offense even though a different subsection of that same statute may not).  Com. v. Baldwin, 985 A.2d 830, 836 n.6 (Pa. 2009).”

In a criminal case, it is important to have an attorney who understands these concepts and knows when to raise these issues and how to effectively and persuasively argue this to a Court if it is a situation where the Commonwealth does not agree.  If you or a loved one has been accused, charged or convicted of a crime and are in need of legal help contact Mike DiCindio directly.

 


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

“SORNA” Act (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act)

Many sexually related offenses fall under the “SORNA” Act (Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act). SORNA states which offenses create a requirement for a convicted individual to register as a sex offender.  SORNA also provides the length of registration that is required depending on the charge.

Because of the intricacy of the Act as well as the severity of the consequences, there is much litigation in the appellate courts relating to different parts of the Act.  Whenever possible, an experienced criminal defense attorney will make every possible legal effort in order to secure an outcome that does not include registration as a sex offender.   The Act also determines the length of the registration requirements, of which there are three – Annual Registration for 15 years, Semiannual Registration for 25 years; Quarterly for life.

Some of the offenses that fall under the SORNA Act are:

 

Rape

IDSI

Kidnapping

Sexual Assault

Incest

Aggravated Indecent Assault

Indecent Assault

Sexual Abuse of Children

Unlawful Contact

Obscene Materials

Statutory Sexual Assault

False Imprisonment

Unlawful Restraint

(Note: this does not include all offenses covered and not every subsection of each above listed offense implicated the SORNA Act)


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

 

 

Are they credible? IMPEACH THE WITNESS! Prior Convictions and credibility…

West Chester criminal defense

Contact West Chester criminal lawyer Michael DiCindio, Esq. to discuss your case today

The trial binder is complete, the opening ready, the closing prepped and the jurors are in the jury box.  It is time now to go through the process our justice system calls a trial.  Both sides have a chance to present evidence – through the form of documents, exhibits and most importantly and commonly – witness testimony.  But how are we able to show the jury that certain witnesses may not be credible? That some witnesses just shouldn’t be believed?  Among many other things, one great way to attack a witness’s credibility is to elicit evidence of their prior convictions. But is it all of their prior convictions that we should/could introduce?  No.  Why?  Because the crimes that Pennsylvania law permits for impeachment directly correspond with honesty.  A good trial attorney will not miss a chance to attack a witness with an applicable conviction when they take the stand.

Under Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence 609(a) an attorney may attack the credibility of any witness, including the defendant with evidence that the witness has been convicted of a crime if it involved dishonesty or false statement. Pa. R. Evid 609(a). Therefore, under Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence 609(a) they shall be admitted to impeach the credibility when a witness chooses to, or does, testify at trial. See, Pa. R. Evid. 609(a

A prior crimen falsi conviction is per se admissible for impeachment purposes if the later of either the conviction date or the last day of confinement falls within 10 years of trial. See, Pa. R. Evid. 609; see also, Commonwealth v. Trippett, 932 A.2d 188 (Pa. Super. 2007).

When a prior conviction is older than 10 years old, that does not end the inquiry as to admissibility.  They are per se admissible when the last date of confinement was within the past ten years.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has held that a crimen falsi conviction may be used to impeach the credibility of a witness if he has been confined for that conviction within ten years, even if the incarceration was due to recommitment for a parole violation. Commonwealth v. Jackson, 585 A.2d 1001 (Pa. 1991) (emphasis added).

Further, when there is confinement within the past ten years, it is not necessary for the trial court to engage in a case specific balancing inquiry as to admissibility. See, Commonwealth v. Jackson, 561 A.2d 335 (Pa. Super. 1989) affirmed, 585 A.2d 1001 (Pa. 1991).

Being a trial attorney takes skill, common sense, determination, and knowledge of the law.  Being effective on cross examination is no different.  When a witness has a crime of dishonesty on their record – a skilled trial attorney will know how and when to properly impeach their credibility.


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael DiCindio is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

 

Use and Abuse of Leading Questions: What are they and when are they allowed?

West Chester criminal defense

Contact West Chester criminal lawyer Michael DiCindio, Esq. to discuss your case today

Then you ran away?

My client never injured you?

This was the only contact you had with him, correct?

Everyday, in criminal courts across Pennsylvania, there is a fine line that is walked with what each lawyer believes is a “leading” question.  Before getting into court and litigating a matter, any matter, it is important for an attorney to understand what a leading question is and when it is permitted to be used.  The following should give a brief overview of the concept of “leading” a witness – and shed light on what kinds of questions are to be viewed as leading questions.

Under Pa. Rule of Evidence 611(c) the times that counsel may ask leading questions are delineated. The rule states:

“Leading questions should not be used on the direct or redirect examination of a witness except as may be necessary to develop the witness’ testimony. Ordinarily, leading questions should be permitted on cross-examination. When a party calls a hostile witness, an adverse party or a witness identified with an adverse party, interrogation may be by leading questions; a witness so examined should usually be interrogated by all other parties as to whom the witness is not hostile or adverse as if under redirect examination.”

 Pa. R. Evid. 611(c)(emphasis added).

A leading question, as defined by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, is one which puts the desired answer in the mouth of the witness. Com. v. Chambers, 599 A.2d 630 (Pa. 1991) citing Com. v. Dreibelbis, 426 A.2d 1111, 1116 (1981). The language of Rule 611(c) regarding the use leading questions when questioning one’s own witness is to be liberally construed. Chambers, 599 A.2d 630. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that it is within the discretion of the trial court to govern when leading questions may be permitted in order to “permit parties to elicit any material truth without regard to the technical considerations of who called the witness.” Chambers, 599 A.2d 630 at 640, citing Commonwealth v. Deitrick, 70 A. 275 (Pa. 1908). This discretion does not have a defined limit, but rather is to be exercised and limited by the interests of fairness and justice on a case by case basis. Chambers, 599 A.2d 630 at 640.

The trial court has wide discretion in controlling the use of leading questions. Com. v. Lambert, 765 A.2d 306 (Pa. Super. 2000). This wide discretion will not be disturbed on appeal absent a clear abuse of the discretion afforded to the trial court. Commonwealth v. Jones, 487 Pa. 183, 185, 409 A.2d 25, 26-27 (1979); Commonwealth v. Chmiel, 777 A.2d 459 (2001); Commonwealth v. Reidenbaugh, 282 Pa.Superior Ct. 300, 422 A.2d 1126 (1980); Commonwealth v. Guess, 266 Pa.Superior Ct. 359, 404 A.2d 1330 (1979).

Pennsylvania law has recognized numerous times when leading questions during direct examination are permitted. Commonwealth v. Reeves, 267 Pa. 361, 110 A. 158, Pa., December 12, 1919 (When a party is surprised by a witness unexpectedly turning hostile); Com. v. Lambert, 765 A.2d 306 (Pa.Super. 2000)(When a witness is hostile, proves to be hostile or the party calling the witness is surprised by testimony of the witness inconsistent with prior statements);   Com. v. Tavares, 555 A.2d 199 (Pa. Super 1989)( on direct examination when there is difficulty in getting direct and intelligible answers); Commonwealth v. Smolko, 666 A.2d 669 (Pa. Super 1992)(the victim is unable to communicate due to a disease which only allows for limited communication, such as only being able to raise either a left or right arm to answer yes or no); Commonwealth v. Polston, 616 A.2d 669 (Pa. Super 1992)(when questioning a child witness because they are generally easily intimidated in a courtroom setting); Katz v. St. Mary Hosp., 816 A.2d 1125 (Pa.Super. 2003)(when leading questions are needed due to the length and complexity of the testimony as long as the elicited responses are of information that would have been admissible despite the leading format); Ward v. City of Pittsburgh, 44 A.2d 553 (Pa. 1945)( Where a witness has a speech affliction which prevents him or her from speaking in the usual manner); Fish v. Gosnell, 463 A.2d 1042 (Pa.Super. 1983)(if solely an isolated leading question); Com. v. Smith, 115 A.2d 782 (Pa.Super 1955)(When a witness is reluctant to testify); Pennsylvania Labor Relations Bd. v. Butz, 192 A.2d 707 (Pa. 1963)(if the use of the leading questions does not affect the substance of the direct evidence, i.e. it was not viewed as less credible just because the testimony was elicited through leading questions); Commonwealth. v. McLean, 1995 WL 632696 Pa.Com.Pl. (1995)(to refresh a witnesses recollection or jog their memory outside of the presence or hearing of the jury).

It is well settled that the mere fact of a question requiring, or suggesting, a yes or no answer does not automatically make the question leading. Waltosh v. Pennsylvania R. Co., 259 Pa. 372, 103 A. 55 (1918); Foster v. Sol Greisler & Sons, 29 A.2d 103 (Pa. Super 1942). The United States Supreme Court noted that in deciding whether a question is leading is a question of form. The Court, in a footnote, discussed seven of seventeen “plainly leading” questions that were asked by counsel. This was done by quoting the phrases which made them leading. Of the seven “plainly leading” questions referenced in footnote 11 of Ohio v. Roberts four of them are what would be called “elliptical” interrogatories that take the form of statements. Elliptical interrogatories are questions in which the verb, and at times the subject, is removed, and the intonation is such that it suggests a “yes” or “no” answer. The footnoted stated:

“No less than 17 plainly leading questions were asked, as indicated by phrases in counsel’s inquiries: “is[n’t] it a fact . . . that”; “is it to your knowledge, then, that . . . ”; “is[n’t] that correct”; “you never gave them . . . ”; “this wasn’t then in the pack . . . ”; “you have never [not] seen [discussed; talked] . . . ”; “you never gave. . . . ”

 Footnote 11, Ohio v. Roberts.

While Ohio v. Roberts was later overruled by the Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004) decision on other grounds, footnote eleven is support for the modern trend of allowing cross-examination to take the form of elliptical questions; questions that express interrogatory emotion to the witness through inflection and intonation, rather than by words alone. It must be remembered, that while on paper these questions do not always read as interrogatories, when conveyed in court they are expressed and understood as such.

How evidence is elicited from a witness on the stand is crucial to how it is perceived and understood by the Judge and Jury, alike.  Knowing these rules and the principles involved in them can give any trial lawyer the added benefit of understanding when to use leading questions and how to do so effectively.


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael DiCindio is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale.