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We Protect Your Freedom And Your Future

At the law offices of Amato T Sanita, Esq, this is more than just a slogan – it’s our philosophy, and belief. Our goal is to protect your freedom, and to ensure your future is protected. By working with our firm, you get legal representation when you need it the most for your criminal case in Philadelphia. We understand that dealing with the criminal system is overwhelming – the consequences cannot be underestimated. Regardless of whether it’s a small misdemeanor, or a severe federal crime, you need to understand the legal process – how it impacts you – and a Philadelphia criminal defense attorney, who will work for you. Our Philadelphia criminal lawyers treat each case as it’s own unique situation, and work hard to uncover evidence that will get you the best possible outcome. Founding partner Amato Sanita, understands that you’re very concerned about possible sentences, and issues in the future you might face. There are many aspects to a criminal defense case. Our goal is to show the court you didn’t commit the crime and/or don’t deserve the maximum sentence for the crime you’re accused of committing. Regardless of whether it’s a drug offense, assault charge, or bank fraud, we’ll work tirelessly to represent your interests in court.

“They treated me like family. If I could I would give them 100 Stars!”

John Smith
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Philadelphia Criminal Lawyers We Care

Amato Sanita, is one of Philadelphia’s most aggressive criminal defense lawyers. We believe that every single client deserves the highest quality of customer service and legal representation. We believe that when you’re a client – you’re a member of our family. Our goal is to provide every single client the legal help they deserve and need. We listen to our clients, and their family members, in order to help them understand the effect the of their legal situation. With over 25 years of combined practice, we realize that the District Attorney will do his/her best to build a case against you. It means when you’re accused of a crime, you need a Philadelphia criminal attorney who understands how to build a defense. By working with the law offices of Amato Sanita, you have Philadelphia criminal attorneys on your team, who are dedicated to fighting charges, and helping you take control of your immediate future. More importantly, you have Philadelphia criminal attorneys on your side who care only about your future. We are available 24/7 and can come to the jailhouse, or police station, to help you and your family members.

We have a reputation for being one of the strongest law firms in Philadelphia, and are focused on providing the best possible outcome for our clients. We are constantly attending seminars, and finding new ways to deliver amazing case results on behalf of our clients. Every single client speaks to one of our founding partners, and we offer a risk free consultation so you know exactly what to expect. In addition, we offer a flexible payment program so you can get the legal help you need – without having to worry about finances. We can help with virtually any type of crime, such as stealing goods, bank fraud, murder, and virtually any type of felony or misdemeanor.

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Why Clients Choose
Amato Sanita For Representation

Concierge Service

We take on fewer clients than other firms. Each client works 1:1 on with one of our senior attorneys

Legal Practice

Our firm has over 25 years of combined legal practice. Our attorneys have been recognized by the top lawyer ranking services.

Award Winning

Our attorneys have been recognized for their excellence by numerous lawyer ranking services and awards, like SUPER LAWYERS, and Avvo.

We Protect Your Future

Aggressive Lawyers

Flexible Payment Options

24/7 Customer Service

25 Years Of Legal Practice

5 Star Google/Yelp Ratings

Philadelphia Criminal Lawyers

We handle all misdemeanors and felonies

Regardless of whether it’s a simple misdemeanor, or a complex federal case, we can help. We understand that irrespective of the severity of the crime you’re accused of committing – a conviction can permanently harm your future. Our Philadelphia criminal lawyers can help protect your rights, and ensure you are never going to be unfairly prosecuted, or over-penalized for something you didn’t actually do. For example, if you’re accused of a DUI – then we can help investigate whether the field sobriety test was correctly done, or whether a blood/breath test was done properly.

Criminal defense cases can have immense consequences if you’re convicted. The conviction goes on your permanent record, and depending on the circumstances – you can face fines, jail time, and face issues getting employment in the future. Hiring our law firm can help mitigate the penalties, and if possible, get the case dismissed.

If you have been charged with a crime, then your future is hanging in the balance. You may be scared, confused and traumatized. You may also be thinking about how you can potentially lose your job and your family. Fortunately, you can call our law offices if you need legal representation.

Our firm is solely focused on defending people against criminal charges. We have the experience and skills necessary to represent you. Our goal is to make sure that the negative effects of a criminal charge are lessened.

You may be feeling a variety of emotions right now. You may be frustrated. You may also be angry. Fear is another emotion that you may feel. Additionally, you may be thinking about you will need to do next. We will give you guidance and tell you what you will need to do next.

Avoid Harsh Penalties
Our firm has had experience in dealing with several types of criminal cases. One of the best things that you can do if you have been charged with any crime is to hire the right Philadelphia criminal attorney for your case. Drug possession or a DUI charge does not have to ruin your future.

Our firm knows that being arrested can be a scary thing. That is why you will need to contact a Philadelphia criminal attorney after you have been arrested. You will be able to get a free case consultation. We will be able to help you with the following crimes.

  • Property Crimes and Arson
  • Domestic violence
  • Assault
  • Federal Crimes
  • Drug Crimes
  • Marijuana Crimes
  • Sex Crimes
  • Theft
  • Involuntary Manslaughter
  • Conspiracy to Commit Murder
  • Professional License Defense

Do the police need to read the Miranda warnings before talking to a suspect?

The police has to read the Miranda warnings before they interrogate someone whose in their custody. Being in custody means that you aren’t free to leave. Statements that are volunteered while in custody, without an interrogation, can be used against you by the police. If the Miranda warning isn’t provided, then that information can be discredited.

Do the police need to use specific words in reading the Miranda warnings?

No, the police don’t need to use certain words when reading the Miranda warning. They simply have to convey the true essence of the Miranda rights.

Was I not under arrest if the police did not read my rights?

You might be under arrest, even if they police didn’t read your rights. They only need to read the rights to a suspect who they intend on interrogating while they are in custody. In other words, they can handcuff a suspect and then book them at the police station without reading the warnings.

Can the police give Miranda warnings midway through an interrogation?

The police can give Miranda warnings halfway through an interrogation, but statements given before the warning will likely not be admissible against the defendant.  Sometimes a defendant will confess before they get the warning, and then confess after they’ve received the warning, feeling it would be pointless to take back the confession. The second confession might also be inadmissible in some cases if the police benefited from the suspect being confused to get the second confession. Hiring a Philadelphia criminal attorney can help you understand all of this.

Can tangible evidence be admitted if it was discovered because of a Miranda violation?

Sometimes a statement which was obtained, in violation of the Miranda rights, can lead law enforcement to discover evidence against the evidence. The general rule is that the evidence can be admitted in most cases, even though there is a Miranda violation. If the police went beyond violating the rules and coerced the suspect into the confession, then the evidence will likely not be admitted.

When are search and seizure rules triggered?

Search and seizure rules apply whenever law enforcement conducts a search which invades a citizen’s legitimate concerns of privacy. The expectation of privacy has to be objectively reasonable.

Do the police always need a warrant to conduct a search?

No, there are several exceptions where the police can conduct a search without a warrant.

Who can give consent to a search of an apartment?

The occupant of the apartment can give consent to a search of any area which they control. If room mates are living together, then either roommate can give consent to a search of their own area. They cannot give consent to a search of area that is controlled ONLY by another roommate. If multiple room mates are present when the police ask for consent, a refusal by any roommate can prevent the search entirely. A landlord cannot give consent to a search of a leased apartment, which is VALIDLY occupied by a tenant.

Can the police search a car that has been towed?

The police can search a car which was towed, and impounded, regardless of whether it was illegally parked or stolen. They may be able to search any closed containers in the car also. The police don’t have the right to impound a car for the purpose of conducting a search.

What is the exclusionary rule?

This is a rule that says the evidence obtained through a constitutional violation cannot be used against the defendant. It’s related to the fruit of the poisonous tree, which requires that evidence obtained unconstitutionally obtained can be excluded in many cases. Judges will not exclude the evidence on their own. Defendants must bring a motion to suppress.

What is a motion to suppress?

This involves the defendant asking the judge to exclude certain evidence from being considered at trial. It’s a pre-trial motion, and sometimes, successful, in suppressing evidence – and helping you avoid a trial altogether because a prosecution might not be able to prove his, or her case, without the evidence.

Can I be charged with a crime without being arrested?

Police officers can sometimes issue a citation, rather than making an arrest. This prevents overcrowding in jails. Sometimes it could pose a danger to the community, by allowing a suspect to remain at large. By signing the citation, you agree to appear in court as specified. You may be subject to arrest if you fail to appear.

How probable is probable cause?

The probably cause standard doesn’t require proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Can an officer make an arrest for a misdemeanor without witnessing the crime?

An officer can typically not make an arrest for a misdemeanor unless the crime occurred in their presence. An officer can also rely on the observations of other officers, or admissions by a suspect. When a misdemeanor did not occur in the presence of the officer, they still can pursue an arrest warrant by submitting an affidavit to the judge.

What is a bench warrant?

This is a type of warrant which a judge issues when a defendant fails to show up in court. It can act as an arrest warrant, since the police can use the bench warrant to arrest the defendant and bring them back to court.

What is a bail hearing?

Bail hearings allow a defendant to ask the judge to a lower amount of bail. Or, it can result in the defendant being released on their own recognizance without paying any bail. The bail hearings are usually informal, and the judge can also hear witness testimony. The judge generally will not hear evidence from one side, without the other side being present.

What is a detention hearing?

Detention hearings are held in federal court. Prosecutors can bring a motion for this hearing if they believe the defendant should be held without bail. It can arise when a defendant is accused of a serious crime, such as violent crimes, terrorism, etc. Usually, a detention hearing occurs at the first court appearance. The defendant has the right to an attorney at a detention hearing, and they can present evidence and cross-examine prosecution witnesses. The judge will decide whether the defendant would pose a risk to the greater community if they were released.

Should I just stay in jail until my trial if the prosecution has a strong case, since it will be counted as time served?

Probably – no. You may not know whether you are guilty or not. Even if you are guilty, you may not get jail time as a part of your sentence. Jails aren’t pleasant places to spend time. Staying in jail means that the defendant will be under the supervision of law enforcement. States that a defendant makes while under supervision can be used against them. In some cases, people who take bail have an opportunity to impress prosecutors/judges by improving their conduct – getting into rehab, etc. They can help reduce any sentence which is eventually received. IT can even help convince the prosecution to drop the case.

What is the difference between an acquittal and a not guilty verdict?

There is no meaningful difference. An acquittal happens when at trial, the judge/jury finds the defendant isn’t guilty because the prosecution failed to prove its case. Sometimes, a judge/jury might offer a partial acquittal because they find the defendant is guilty of some charges, but not others.

How can someone be liable in a civil lawsuit but not guilty in a criminal case?

The burden of proof in civil and criminal are different. Plaintiffs in civil lawsuits have to prove their case by the preponderance of the evidence. In a criminal case, the prosecution have to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a much higher standard to meet. As a result, the same evidence in a civil liability might not be enough for a criminal conviction.

Can I postpone a civil case while resolving my criminal case?

Criminal cases usually take priority over a civil case, that resulted from the same events. Defendants can try to delay the civil case until the criminal case is resolved so that the prosecution cannot use the information from the civil case to support the charges.

How long does a criminal case take?

It all depends on how complex the case is. Simple misdemeanors are quick, and can be resolved in a few weeks or months. Felony cases can last several months, or a year. If the prosecution makes a reasonable plea offer early in the process, then the case might end sooner than if it goes to trial.

Our goal is simple: case dismissed

Our main and only goal is to help the charges get dismissed. It’s that simple. We look at the strength of the case against you, and will do everything possible to weaken it. We’ll move to suppress evidence, and use court procedures to hinder the prosecutors case – and improve our chances of winning the case. In the event we don’t think winning the case is possible, we’ll look into plea bargains that are beneficial to you. If there are weaknesses in the prosecutors case, we’ll use that as leverage to get what we want on behalf of our clients. The first step in winning your case is hiring a respectable Philadelphia criminal defense law firm who cares about you, and is looking to help you win your case. Our Philadelphia criminal attorneys understand how prosecutors and judges will act. When you hire a private criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia like ourselves, it’s harder for a prosecutor to go to trial. Often, public defenders have a lot of cases – and can’t dedicate enough time to yours. But, by working with us, you’ll have an attorney whose focused on your case.

Our firm has represented several clients who could have had their lives ruined. Our firm has helped people avoid jail time, fines and other life-changing consequences. If you have already been questioned by the police officers, then it is important for you to act quickly.

You will need to contact our firm today.

We Are Here for You

We know that it is important for you to have an attorney that you can trust. We will keep the lines of communication open. We will provide you with the information that you need to know throughout the entire case. We know that you are going through an incredibly stressful time. We strive to help ease the stress of this case.

We not only want to make life less stressful for you, but we also want to take the stress off of your loved ones. They are probably just as worried about your case as you are.

We Believe in Second Chances

Our firm believes that everyone makes mistakes. One mistake that you make does not have to ruin the rest of your life. We want to help people resolve their case as quickly as possible so that they will be able to return to their normal lives. You should not have to pay for one mistake for the rest of your life.

However, it is important to remember that time is of the essence. You will need to act quickly if you want your case to have the best outcome. You will need to get in touch with us today so that we can discuss your case. After we know all of the important details of your case, we will prepare your defense.

There are several criminal defenses that can be used. The best defense will depend on your case.

How many criminal cases go to trial?

Very few cases go to trial. Charges are usually dismissed, or dropped, because the defense can succeed in pre-trial motions, which destroys the prosecutors case. Most often, the two sides will reach a plea bargain in which the defendant pleads guilty, or no contest, in exchange for a lesser charge or lighter sentence.

Should I waive time?

Sometimes the prosecution will ask the defendant to waive time, which means waiving their right to go to a trial within the time required by law. Defendants are often reluctant, because it means you are waiving your right to a speed trial. Having said that, rushing to trial can be problematic for the defense. You should listen to Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer before deciding what to do.

Will I get a harsher sentence if I lose at trial after declining a plea offer?

Possibly, but not necessarily. The prosecutor could recommend a harsher sentence after a conviction at trial, rather than the one they proposed in the initial plea offer. Sometimes during the course of their investigation they may discover additional evidence since the plea offer which has changed their view of the case. They may decide they are able to prove more serious charges.

Can a no contest plea come back to haunt me?

The purpose of no contest, instead of guilty, is to avoid the automatic consequences of a guilty plea. Someone in a civil case cannot use the no contest plea to prove you are liable, which they could if you pled guilty.

What do I do if I am sure that I am innocent of the charges?

If you’re innocent, you should hire a Philadelphia criminal lawyer to help you as soon as possible in your case. The attorney can call attention to the errors in the police report, or other misunderstood facts. In some cases, a defense attorney can even contact the police before the charges are filed. In some cases, your attorney can seek a dismissal through a pre-trial motion. It’s important you proactively work on getting rid of the charges before trial.

Does the prosecution need to prove a motive?

No, a motive isn’t necessary. It can help show why defendants might have an intent to commit a crime, but the essential element is intent, rather than motive.

Can I be convicted if I did not know that I was committing a crime?

Yes. Not knowing the law is not a defense in most situations.

Can I be convicted if I misunderstood the situation?

It depends. Mistake of fact can be a defense to a crime – it if it negates the mental state required for the conviction. Mistakes usually must be reasonable if the crime requires intent. Mistake of fact isn’t an affirmative defense, so the prosecution has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt.

Can two states prosecute a crime that occurred in both states?

Yes, as long as essential part of the crime happened in each state.

What is criminal negligence?

Negligence is a state of mental of mind. It is equated with recklessness in the criminal world. It is a mental state lower than intent, or knowledge. Negligence and recklessness arise when a defendant disregards risk of harm.

What is premeditated conduct?

Premeditated conduct is an essential issue. It often is a factor murder charges – due to the fact murder is often a deliberate act. Premeditation involves thinking about an act before committing it. This excludes situations in which an individual acted in the heat of passion.

What is malice?

Malice is viewed as a higher level of intent, which can involve cruelty, or a high degree of deliberation. It happens in the context of violent crimes, in which someone suffered seriously, or died. Malice can be defined as an intent to cause death, or bodily harm to someone.

What is strict liability?

It means a defendant can be punished for a crime, regardless of their mental state. These crimes are usually minor, such as traffic violations.

What are the elements of a crime?

The prosecution has to prove certain points beyond a reasonable doubt. These are the elements of a crime.

Can a defendant be convicted based only on a confession?

No, a confession is not enough. Due to concerns about false confessions, there has to be corroborating evidence beyond the own statements. This evidence doesn’t need to be substantial.

Is involuntary intoxication a defense?

This can be a defense in very rare situations. It applies only if the defendant was forced or tricked into consuming alcohol/drugs against their will. Sometimes, it can apply if medication caused severe side effects. The defendant has to show a high degree of intoxication. You cannot use this as a defense if it was voluntarily consumed.

What is the statute of limitations, and how is it tolled?

This is the period in which the prosecution can bring charges after a crime is committed. Tolling the statute of limitations means it is suspended, and the clock isn’t running. The circumstances under which this can happen are rare.

Can I use self-defense if I was defending someone else?

Yes, there is a defense called defense of others. Your Philadelphia criminal lawyer can use this defense if they have a belief that someone else is imminent danger of harm. Your attorney can use this defense stating that force used was reasonable to deal with the danger.

Can I use self-defense if I started the fight?

Possibly. Your Philadelphia criminal lawyer is the best person to help with this. You can use self-defense in a situation in which a reasonable person would believe that someone else was about to use force. You don’t need to wait to be physically struck.

How is murder different from homicide?

Murder is a type of homicide. Homicide is a category of killing where it wasn’t intentional, such as self-defense. Murder occurs when someone recklessly kills another person with degree of intent or recklessness.

Can I get an arrest off my record?

In some states, you can get an arrest from your record automatically if you are not charged. Sometimes, an individual may need to file a formal petition to get a finding of innocence. If the petition succeeds, the record can be sealed.

Can I see the criminal record of someone else?

Yes. They are public. You can search conviction databases online. They consolidate data from conviction records in courts throughout the country.

Can I own a gun after a conviction?

People who have been convicted of certain crimes, like felonies, and domestic violence crimes, are banned from owning guns. There are some exemptions, and sometimes an individual can get their rights restored if they have received a pardon, or if the conviction has been expunged.

Do juvenile defendants have a right to a trial by jury?

No. Thee constitution doesn’t provide a right to a trial by jury to juvenile defendants.

Is there a difference between sealing and expunging juvenile records?

Not really. Courts use the terms interchangeably.

When do I need a lawyer for a criminal case?

You should hire a Philadelphia criminal lawyer always. When so much is at stake, having a professional Philadelphia criminal attorney can make a huge difference. They can recognize problems with the prosecutors case. Even if you plead guilty, a Philadelphia criminal attorney can negotiate a better plea bargain because the prosecution will take you more seriously if you have a Philadelphia criminal lawyer on your side.

Do I need a lawyer even if the prosecution offers a standard plea bargain?

Probably yes. Even if you are offered a standard plea bargain, you should discuss your issue with a lawyer.

Can I change my lawyer? What about a public defender?

You may be able to change you lawyer if you are hiring a private criminal lawyer in Philadelphia. You will need permission from the court. You are not allowed to make a change if it’ll cause an unreasonable delay, or undermine the prosecutions ability to make its case. Defendants don’t have the right to change their defender unless they ask the judge for permission.

Is a public defender a real lawyer?

Yes, they are fully licensed lawyers. There is no difference between them, and a private attorney in terms of their license.

What do I do if my lawyer does not communicate with me?

Your lawyer has a duty to respond to you and keep you informed about the status of your case. You can try to address concerns in this area through your agreement.

Will the prosecutor talk to my lawyer or to me?

The likely will talk to your lawyer. Lawyers are required to communicate with lawyers of opposing parties when they are represented rather than talking to clients directly. The prosecutor will give plea offers to your attorney, and your attorney will act as a conduit.

Should I tell my lawyer the truth, even if I may be guilty?

Yes, your Philadelphia criminal attorney needs to know the details of your case in order to make an effective defense. You should be honest with your Philadelphia criminal lawyer unless they tell you that they do not want to know what happened, due to ethical rules.

Long story short after being mislead by the prior firm and received no results and my son sat for 18 months in prison because “no one knew what was going on” He is always there always answers your calls/texts even late on Sunday evenings.

Michelle Doria

Frequently Asked Questions

Virtually every single criminal case has its own unique challenges. Some criminal charges are harder to defend than others. It’s in your best interest to speak to a Philadelphia criminal attorney as soon as possible so you can understand your circumstances. Some are more difficult than others. Some of the simplest cases don’t really require an attorney. If you face them – it’s possible to handle them on your own.

Murder Charges: These are some of the most serious charges anyone can face. Although every murder charge is serious, first degree carries the most severe penalties. This is because it involves premeditation, which means the defendant is being accused of planning the murder of his victim. First degree murder charges can be challenging due to the amount of evidence submitted. Attorneys will need to hire experts who can help poke holes in the opposing prosecutor’s case. Finding an attorney to defend you can be difficult because most have little to no experience with such cases.

Crimes Against Children: These are difficult to defend. These are very emotional cases, since they involve young victims and the prosecutor will use the emotional component of the case to win. The jury will find it hard to put aside their feelings.

White Collar Crimes: White collar crimes – such as fraud, and embezzlement, can be more challenging to defend than others. The investigation of these crimes is very difficult, and there’s a lot of evidence to analyze. The evidence is very difficult for jurors to understand. It means your attorney must find a way to simplify the evidence in order to win.

When you speak to one of our Philadelphia criminal lawyers, our goal is to help your case get dismissed. Not every defendant who faces criminal charges will end up going to trial, or take a plea. Many cases get dismissed by the prosecutor or by the court. The first thing our Philadelphia criminal attorney will do is determine whether there are any grounds on which the case can be dismissed before taking a plea deal, or going to trial. Some grounds include, but are not limited to:

  • Lack of probable cause
  • Improper criminal complaint
  • Illegal stop / search
  • Lack of evidence
  • Unavailable witness
  • Loss of evidence

No probably cause to arrest

In order to arrest you, the police must have probable cause to believe you actually committed a crime. Police officers cannot arrest a person just because they have a feeling. The officer must have reasonable cause you did the crime. If the police officer arrests you without probable case, then the evidence they gathered + your arrest can be thrown out.

Mistakes in criminal complaints

When police officers write a criminal complaint/charging document, they have to sign under oath the truthfulness of the contents. If a complaint does not comport with state/local law due to a significant error, or omission. If the officer who was involved in the case is not available to correct the error, then the prosecutor may have to dismiss the complaint.

Illegal stop or search

Police officers can stop a vehicle or a person under very specific circumstances. For example, if a driver is speeding, or violating traffic laws, the police can reasonable suspect a crime is being committed. If a police officer randomly searches a car, or a person, without cause, then this is a violation of the persons rights. Police can only search a car/house if they have a search warrant. Police can search for a person, if there is reasonable belief the person is carrying a deadly weapon – for example. If police conduct a search without a warrant, and no special circumstances permitted the search, then any evidence gathered in the search cannot be used to convict the defendant.

Insufficient evidence

If a defendant is arrested and there are charges pending against him, then the prosecutor has to present the case and show they have enough evidence to establish probable cause. The evidence must show a factual basis for believing the defendant committed the crime.

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