Can my son get jail with a Felony 1 Burglary charge?

Q: My son was in the vehicle and never got out of the vehicle when an acquaintance broke into a home to steal marijuana the homeowner was home and shot the kid in the leg my son hopped in the driver’s seat of the perpetrators car and drove him out of there was immediately arrested and has been incarcerated since December they are taking it to trial my son has no representation and is facing some Hefty charges. (West Mifflin, PA)

A: Even without a prior record, these charges could result in a jail sentence. I’ve had similar cases and the facts are different in every case, so you cannot necessarily say he will get jail or he will not get jail. Working against you is that it is likely believed that your son was involved and not merely present at the scene by some misfortune. In one of my cases, the kids broke into a local pot grower’s home, hit him with a bat, broke his arm, rolled him up in a carpet and were running out the door with marijuana plants when the police arrived. My client was hiding under the cellar steps when the police arrived. He wouldn’t come out, so they let a German Shepard loose on him. By the time of trial, the co-conspirator that was to testify against all the defendants OD’d and died and because the victim was as drug dealer and less sympathetic in the eyes of law enforcement, the DA and cops allowed my client to plead to receive probation. I think the police also went a little easy on my client because he was pretty chewed up by the dog. (lacerations, stitches, nerve damage, etc.) The point is that every case is different. Perhaps your son’s attorney can distance your son from the other guy and perhaps the police and DA do not like the alleged victim if he is a known drug user or dealer. Your son is no doubt young and has no criminal record, which will work in his favor. He needs an attorney whether private or public.

Parents died, I opened an estate, what deed do I use?

Q: Parents bought a home in1972 and lived in it 22 years! Me, the oldest son was their caretaker. Parents died, and I probated filed. I have short certificates. What deed do I use to change names? There is a mortgage, I want to refinance.

A: A deed coming from an estate is normally a fiduciary deed. If there is a mortgagee, you need to notify the mortgagee to see if they approve of a new deed. Some mortgage agreements contain a due-on-sale clause which allows the mortgagee to foreclose if there is new deed filed. It may not be wise to change title on the home if you are going to sell it as there might be capital gain. You also have inheritance tax issues to address. The estate may have other creditors beside the mortgagee. You should be doing this through an attorney.

I need an attorney?

Q: Data breeches.

A:  Or a tailor. “Breeches” are trousers that extend only slightly past the knee. In West Virginia they are called “britches”. I assume you mean data breach however I am not sure if you are the accused or someone has stolen on-line data from you. If you are the suspect, I would suggest not talking to police or anyone about the case and consulting with a criminal defense attorney.

What if the person acting as power of Attorney has taken the money?

Q: She transferred his money into her account. No one knows in what bank. How can he get his money, vehicles, business’s, house’s back from her? (Bridgeville, PA)

A:  More facts are needed. If she abused the Power of Attorney by stealing money from the Principal, this would be a violation of the POA and would be a crime. However, and again, more information is needed. You would need an attorney to review the Power of Attorney document and advise accordingly.

I have a traffic court warrant. Will child support arrest me?

Q: It’s not the type of warrant where they come to your door. But I don’t want to go to Family Court to file for child support, if I’m going to get arrested. My son won’t have anyone to take care of him. I plan on handling the warrant when my mother comes to visit. Can I file for support without arrest? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: If the warrant was issued by a District Justice office for failure to appear, I would call the office. Most of the time you can reschedule a missed traffic hearing. This may involve paying the collateral deposit and pleading not-guilty. Once this is done the warrant would be cleared

Can I refuse a drug test?

Q: I got child-lined by children’s hospital. Our 18-month-old fractured her collar bone running in house. They suspected child abuse, but it was unfounded. When the CYF lady came to close case she did but she said she had another report that I had a birthday party for my husband and that there were reports of drug usage. That is a lie and she now she wants me to do a drug and alcohol evaluation at Power. What should I do? I feel like I’m being harassed. What are my rights? Can I refuse? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: An attorney would need much more information to advise. Based on what you say, it is possible that CYF is considering removing your children due to suspected abuse or neglect. You can refuse a drug test and to even speak with CYF. Be aware that if you do, they may not go away. If you can afford a lawyer, you should get one. If your children are in fact removed from your care, or a petition for dependency is filed and you cannot afford a private lawyer, contact the Allegheny County Bar Foundation Conflict Counsel Office and ask to have a Parent Advocate appointed.

What if the person is not competent enough to sign POA?

Q: My father is currently in a rehabilitation facility and POA has been granted to an in-law I don’t trust. He has early onset Alzheimer’s Disease and is unable to articulate full sentences. How would I go about transferring the POA to myself so that I can better assist him with his needs? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Your father can only execute a new Power of Attorney if he is competent. Ask his physician or the Social Worker in the rehab facility if in their opinion he is. If he is not competent, you can file in Orphan’s Court to be his Guardian. You will need an attorney. The attorney can advise as to your chances of being appointed by a judge to be Guardian over the present Agent on the POA if he or she should challenge you.

How do I get a copy grandmother’s will?

Q: I have personally seen my grandmother’s will. She had copies in her house. She had a stroke and my aunt moved her out of state to a nursing home in Tampa Florida. She has since passed away, two days after my mother (so no help getting info from her). I believe my Aunt maybe trying to hide the fact my grandmother had a will. I know her grandchildren were left a fair amount of money. My aunt is also POA. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: You will need to hire a lawyer in FLA to investigate and possibly file a court action. Before you do that, you can call and check what the procedure in that county is to see if a will has been filed. They may have a website, or you may be able to get an answer on the telephone. If a will has not been filed and you truly believe there is one, the attorney can begin to request it in writing from your aunt and if unsuccessful, he can petition the court to order her to product it. Having an attorney involved will cost you money.

Can I do anything to stop this? Please help!

Q: I have a judgement against me, I did not go to the hearing over a year ago and the judgement went through. Now I am receiving papers from a law firm, Interrogatories for Discovery of Assets in Aid of Execution. Is there anything I can do to appeal or stop this?
My ex-husband bought items on one of my cc cards. We divorced, and I was left with a hefty amount due on the credit card. So, that is why I did not pay it in the first place. But now I’m here, and shame on me. Thanks. (Shaler Twp., PA)

A: Yes, if you have allowed a judgment to be entered, you are way late to appeal. There is a procedure to get back to court which involves filing a Petition to Open Default Judgment. I am not sure if the facts in your case would support this legal procedure, which will involve hiring a lawyer and incurring legal fees. If the judgment is something you can pay, you may want to work out a settlement agreement. Consult with a lawyer.

My mother died in FLA without a will

Q: My sister who lives in FL (I’m in PA) got an attorney and become the executor. It seems the lawyer is not working with me and will not talk to me. I think I need to get my own lawyer and if I do, will my portion of the estate have to pay both? I never signed anything. Also, can the executor avoid going into probate as she is not dividing the estate equally. I also know she uses marijuana. Can I ask for a drug test and get her removed as she is not making good decisions? Any help would be great appreciated. Thank you. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: If an estate has been opened in FLA and your mother died without a will, you are likely to be an heir under FLA law if there is anything to inherit. If the attorney for the estate is not responding to you, that is not good. I would send him or her a certified letter containing all your questions. If you get no response, you may want to see if the county has a probate court website for you to look for her estate or call the Probate Court and see what you can find out. If your inquiries are not satisfied, you should call a lawyer in that county who handles estates. There is a process involved in petitioning the court to remove an executor. An attorney in FLA can advise you if this is necessary.