PA Superior Court Finds Speculation Insufficient to Prove Mens Rea at Preliminary Hearing

Criminal Defense Lawyer Zak Goldstein The Pennsylvania Superior Court has decided the case of Commonwealth v. Wyatt, holding that the trial court properly dismissed involuntary manslaughter, homicide by vehicle, and related charges stemming from a fatal motor vehicle accident where the Commonwealth was able to show only that the defendant caused the accident without explaining how or why. The Superior Court held that the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas correctly granted the defendant’s Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (also known as a Motion to Quash in Philadelphia) because the Commonwealth failed to establish a prima facie case of the requisite mens rea. This is an excellent case which illustrates that the preliminary hearing is not a mere formality and that the Commonwealth must prove each element of an offense by a preponderance of the evidence. This includes a showing that the defendant acted with…

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