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The Official Blog of Lonny Fish

Philadelphia's Premier Criminal Defense Lawyer

What is a preliminary hearing and why is it important?

Don’t handicap your case. What is a preliminary hearing and why is it important? Often times I hear people say that they don’t need to hire a lawyer for the preliminary hearing and that the preliminary hearing is not important.   This is a HUGE mistake. A preliminary hearing is a hearing where the Commonwealth must prove that a prima facie case exists on particular charges. That is, they must prove that more likely than not a crime is occurred and the defendant is more likely than not the one who committed.   This burden is very low.   That is what gives people the idea that they don’t need an excellent attorney at this stage.  Why is the preliminary hearing important? Of course the main goal in a preliminary hearing is to get the charges dismissed. Even if that is not a possibility the hearing is important for many reasons. First, the preliminary hearing is important to establish a record of what the police or complaining witness will testify to in the future. As a defense attorney most of the times we are blind to what was previously said.    It is my job to try and get the witness to make statements that are contrary to a statement they have already made.  A good lawyer can use their experiences, common sense, and information received from their client to piece together a good strategy. The preliminary hearing is also important to set up possible defenses at trial such as self-defense, mere presence and sufficiency of the evidence. In cases where we know a motion to suppress or other pretrial... read more

Monell Claims/Failure to Train or Supervise

Have you or a loved one been a victim of a violation of your civil rights by law enforcement in Philadelphia or its surrounding counties in Pennsylvania? I am the lawyer who will provide you a compassionate, tactical and comprehensive legal representation. Both State and Federal Law regulate the force used by law enforcement. A Monell Claim is a claim for monetary recovery against a local municipality, where officials have acted unconstitutionally pursuant to local law, custom or policy. Monell v. New York City Department of Social Services, 436 U.S. 658 Common claims allege failure to train or supervise. You or your loved one may be entitled to compensatory damages for some of the following: Past and future medical expenses, Pretrial lost earnings (lost wages between incident and trial); Future lost earnings; Damaged or destroyed property; Attorney’s fees in underlying criminal case; Pain and suffering; Emotional distress; Embarrassment and humiliation; Injury to reputation; Denial of civil rights. Punitive... read more


Are you or a loved one faced with sentencing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania? I am the lawyer who will offer you a tactical, dynamic, comprehensive, and compassionate defense. Generally, Courts have to follow sentencing guidelines. However, when one presents mitigating factors, a downward departure may be justified.    Laws regarding sentencing can be complicated. The following is some basic information: § 303.1. Sentencing guidelines standards.  (a)  The court shall consider the sentencing guidelines in determining the appropriate sentence for offenders convicted of, or pleading guilty or nolo contendere to, felonies and misdemeanors. Where crimes merge for sentencing purposes, the court shall consider the sentencing guidelines only on the offense assigned the higher offense Gravity score.  (b)  The sentencing guidelines do not apply to sentences imposed as a result of the following: accelerated rehabilitative disposition; disposition in lieu of trial; direct or indirect contempt of court; violations of protection from abuse orders; revocation of probation, intermediate punishment or parole.  (c)  The sentencing guidelines shall apply to all offenses committed on or after the effective date of the guidelines. Amendments to the guidelines shall apply to all offenses committed on or after the date the amendment becomes part of the guidelines.    (1)  When there are current multiple convictions for offenses that overlap two sets of guidelines, the former guidelines shall apply to offenses that occur prior to the effective date of the amendment and the later guidelines shall apply to offenses that occur on or after the effective date of the amendment. If the specific dates of the offenses cannot be determined, then the later guidelines shall apply to all offenses.    (2)  The initial sentencing guidelines went into effect on July 22, 1982... read more

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