Category Archives: Criminal Law

What can I do about a corrupt probation officer?

Q: My son was accused of theft and was sent to jail two weeks ago. His hearing was today. All charges dropped but when his attorney called his probation officer she told him that it could be days before he was released. She said he had to file a petition. The attorney said he never heard of that. My only had four days left on probation. This PO tried to have him put in jail 10 months ago when my son was on a ventilator fighting for his life. She said we were lying about it. He has complied with everything. (Elizabeth Twp., PA

A: No one likes their probation officer, and they are not always pleasant to those on probation nor the family of their subjects. If you have an attorney, have him or her file a petition to lift the detainer with the judge. The judge can release him forthwith, or schedule a hearing sooner than it will take if the PO schedules the violation hearing.

I’m concerned about the law that was passed in PA for limited access to my criminal record

Q: I have two summary charges from 2006 for Retail Theft and Disorderly Conduct. Would I be able to have those charges sealed from employers if I got another summery conviction in 2016?

A: Summary non-traffic offenses can be expunged if five years of arrest-free behavior has passed. Based on what you are saying here, it sounds like the 2006 offenses could be expunged. The process takes at least 6 months, often more, to have the records disappear. If they are Allegheny County charges, I would hire a lawyer to get started now. (Pittsburgh, PA)

What does someone on Megan’s law need to do to be with kids?

Q: My fiancé and I want to get married but I recently got custody of my two granddaughters. Can he be able to stay in my home with me? He seems to like kids.

A: Your fiancé should know. If he doesn’t, that is a potential problem. When he entered his plea, he should have been given an explicit list of terms and conditions of his probation and Megan’s Law requirements. No one can answer this question without knowing these details or whether he was deemed a sexually violent predator. He may have been psychologically tested as part of his Megan’s Law requirement. If his story is that he lost his paperwork, or cannot remember such an important event in his life, he should get in contact with his former lawyer or probation officer to clarify. In addition, in the tragic event that something does happen, you may have criminal liability if you are aware of this past.

Can I sue my ex for falsely accusing me of pointing a handgun at her?

Q: My ex-wife asked me to watch our daughter on one of her days. We have a custody agreement in place. I gladly watched my daughter. We had bad weather, so I took my daughter home, and asked my ex to meet us there. She said ok. About 20 min later she told me to meet her at a local establishment to drop my daughter off. I told her I wasn’t going out in that weather. She came by the house ranting and raving. She took my daughter out, and called me a “p_ _ _ y”. I went out after her and told my daughter to go back in the house. I sat down, and grabbed my remote control, when she barged into my house again. She again grabbed my daughter and left the house. I walked out after her, and took my daughter by the hand while I was holding the remote control. My ex grabbed my wrist and scratched me, and then pushed me. My daughter and I came into the house. The ex said she was calling the police, so I said ok. About 20 minutes later they pulled me out of my house, pepper-sprayed me, put me in cuffs saying that my wife accused me of pointing a gun at her. I was charged with interference of child custody, terroristic threats and simple assault. The supposed gun was a remote control.

A: Most assault cases are one person’s word versus the other person’s word. Welcome to the wrongfully accused club. To have any potential civil suit, you will need to beat the criminal case. My question is, did you own a gun at the time or have one in the house at the time? My experience has been that police would have either made you tell them where the gun was or ransacked your house looking for it. Assuming they did not find a gun, your case is much stronger. You can sue, but you need quantifiable damages such as calculated lost income or provable damage to your reputation. Also, your ex will need to be worth suing to gain interest from a plaintiff’s attorney. My thought is that it is not a great civil suit but please contact a personal injury attorney for another opinion.

How to get DV charges dropped when I didn’t tell the whole story?

Q: My boyfriend and I were in a fight. I just lost a baby and found out he was cheating. I attacked him. He did not put his hands on me just detained me but I told police he did. He is on parole and is now in jail with a detainer.

A: These situations are complicated. Having charges dropped once they are filed is difficult but not impossible. You cannot just ask the police. The case will have to proceed to a preliminary hearing at which time you will be spoken to by the police, the DA and a victim/witness counselor. You will have the opportunity to speak with the victim/witness counselor and talk about this relationship and what you want to see happen. If there is no domestic violence history here, it may be possible for a withdrawal or a withdrawal after a continuance and domestic violence counseling. There is too much unknown her to advise with any certainty.

Can I receive expungement for my indecent exposure conviction?

Q: I sing with a popular oldies group from and it makes me feel less than human at times, because the night I was arrested for exposing myself, I also tried to kill myself because of past bad things happening in my life. I lost a job with the city, a home I was renting and a girlfriend. I was despondent and I turned to suicidal thoughts and I took a handful of Trazadone 100 mg. which gave me an erection and the rest is foggy to me. I was hallucinating and incoherent. I also had alcohol. I was pretty screwed up. However, reliving this in my head all the time. This conviction which keeps me from obtaining a job makes me think about suicide again, I need some help.

A: You should seek some professional help and then, see an attorney. Normally, you cannot expunge a misdemeanor 2 involving alleged sex crimes. However, an attorney can order your records to determine exactly what offenses you pleaded guilty to and then assess your eligibility for an expungement. Many people out there have mental health issues and are gainfully employed. If your issues are under control, your past can be explained to a potential employer. Someone may want to work with you.

What could my mother’s conviction look like for a felony 3 charge?

Q: She has been taking therapy classes and had an arrangement with the person she took money from prior to the cops getting involved. I’m worried because the amount was estimated $300,000 over the 7 years they could track.

A: You need to get her a lawyer to determine A) if she has a defense to all or some of the allegations (i.e., statute of limitations) and if not B) how to keep her out of jail. My thought is that it would be a felony 2 or 1 given that amount of money. As to her sentence if she has no defense and pleads guilty, it depends on many factors-hire prior record score, the position of the victim, the DA, the judge’s temperament, any mental health issues and any potential of restitution. In addition, if the victim was elderly, there are enhanced penalties in the sentencing guidelines. If there was any sort of embezzlement from a charity organization or an elderly or disabled person, the chances of jail are always greater.

Can I get off probation if I still owe $16, 000 in restitution?

Q: I just saw my probation officer today and I expressed that I really want to get off of probation next year. It ends in five years. However, the amount I still owed is lower but not the full amount. The probation is in Westmoreland County. But I’m supervised in Allegheny. My PA said that the county might not let me off until the monies are paid in full and my probation will be extended if I do not meet the deadline. Is there any other option I can go with beside paying it all off in one-year. Will it help getting a lawyer, paying off half in one year or something? Should I rob a bank?

A: Normally, a probation case cannot close until all conditions are met, including restitution. However, I would review all the facts with local counsel and see if it is worth filing a Motion for Early Termination of probation. For example, if the victim to whom restitution is owed will accept a negotiated lowered lump sum payment and the DA agrees, maybe it can happen. I did this once or twice over the years. The chances are against you but it might be worth asking.

Will I go to jail?

Q: My sister and I got into a fight on campus property. She called the cops on me & the cops called me and asked me to come into the station, I went into the police station they told me my charges (simple assault, harassment, criminal mischief- destruction of property) ~ I threw her phone and it broke. I was arrested for the night it was the scariest thing of my life, I never want to be handcuffed or in a cop car or in jail. I was ready to cry. My mug shot was take and they got my fingerprints. I was placed in the holding cell for the night, and in the morning around 9am I saw the judge. The judge explained all the charges to me, he let me leave on a bail of $5,000. He explained that this bail will be lifted if I do not engage in any physical contact with my sister. The judge explained that I have a preliminary hearing in a week and that I need to show up, and if I don’t show up I will be arrested. I left the correctional facility and called a public defender I explained to the lady that I am a college student, and I can’t afford a lawyer. I honestly just regret this whole thing happened but it did. I’m just scared of the outcome.

A:  Talk to your Public Defender attorney. As a first timer and college student, you have options to get out of this without a record. Whatever caused your outburst, whether alcohol or anger, needs to be addressed. You may want to be proactive and consider some counseling, if necessary. If you don’t think you need it, do it anyway as it will make you look better when you come to court.

Can the guy get charged for statutory rape?

Q: A friend of mine’s daughter, age 15, was dating a 20-year-old. My friend did know about the relationship and was okay with it. Her daughter got pregnant with this gentleman. Now the thing is, she’s afraid since CYF became recently involved with them, they will take her daughter away who is now 16 and press charges on the gentleman who is now 21. Can he be charged with statutory rape even if the relationship was Allowed by her mother?

A: Yes, I am afraid that is a violation of the law. At a minimum, he can be charged with Statutory Sexual Assault and Corruption of Minors. Children, Youth and Families cannot press criminal charges but can refer the matter to police who will interview her and decide whether to file. Additionally, if your friend, the parent of the girl was “okay with it”, and the police find out, he can be charged with Endangering the Welfare of Children, commonly known as EWOC in the trade.