I recently had the privilege of representing a renowned psychologist in Philadelphia Municipal Court. She is known for helping people in the Philadelphia community with addiction and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She was arrested in November 2022 for Simple Assault and related charges for spraying mace at a neighbor. The neighbor not only threatened, harassed, and ultimately physically attacked her, but damaged her property during the eighteen months that she lived in his Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood. Philadelphia Police Officers wrongfully arrested her for merely defending herself.
As a result of the incident, she spent eighteen hours in a jail cell waiting to be released on bail. In addition, she was forced to move out of the neighborhood due to continual harassment and damage to her property by her neighbor.
When my client called the Philadelphia Police in the months prior to her arrest due to continual threats and attacks from her dangerous neighbor, they refused to arrest him because they did not witness the incidents. They advised her to buy a taser or mace to protect herself.
The police officers who arrested her based their decision on a false version of events told by the neighbor executing the attacks and a video that my client provided to them depicting her spraying mace in his direction. They refused to accept a video from an employee of an ambulance company located across the street from her home that proved that the neighbor was the instigator before my client maced him. The arresting officers and the assigned detective failed to talk to any other neighbors regarding my client’s aggressor and did not properly investigate the incident.
I spent countless hours on e-mails to and phone calls with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, asking them to review this matter to consider withdrawing prosecution. They informed me that the charges would go away if my client was accepted into a diversion program. My client rightfully refused, as not only did she do nothing wrong, but because accepting to do so would create a risk of losing her professional license.
My client, who is 67 years old, not only counsels patients in her private practice, but she spends countless hours volunteering her services for frontline medical personnel, military personnel, police officers, and firefighters. Eighteen months of suffering at the hands of the neighborhood bully and the subsequent arrest and prosecution was a horrible miscarriage of justice.
Justice for my client was finally achieved when this case went to trial before a Municipal Court Judge in Philadelphia. As soon as my client’s hostile neighbor opened his mouth and others testified about his aggressive behavior, it was blatantly apparent that my client was the true victim. Before I even presented my final witnesses and completed the defense, the Judge asked my client to rise and sternly said, “Not guilty.” While justice in the courtroom occurred, sadly, my client still suffers repercussions of the wrongful arrest: she was forced to move out of her home; she must pay for an expungement of her arrest record; she spent thousands of dollars on legal representation and moving expenses; and she has suffered immense stress from the entire situation.
I share this case to raise awareness about the dangerous repercussions of police misconduct and unjust decisions to prosecute. I will continue to hold law enforcement and the DA’s office accountable when cases are improperly handled in the hopes of avoiding future instances like the one my client found herself in.