Category Archives: Blog and FAQ

Can a Juvenile a juvenile case be switched to an informal hearing without seeing a judge?

Q: This happened after an adjudication hearing was scheduled. The Assistant DA made a deal for an informal hearing with our lawyer, Is this legal?

A:  Cases of first-time juvenile offenders can be handled by an informal disposition. This keeps them out of court. This normally is offered to low level offenders with no juvenile court history. The youth is given conditions to fulfill and if so fulfilled and complied with, the charges are withdrawn. If there was no great defense to the allegations, it sounds like what a good attorney would do with a juvenile delinquency case.


Warrant for unpaid fines

Q: I had a DUI in PA I was paying my fines perfectly. I took a better job offer and moved to Colorado. The job didn’t work out as expected and I fell behind in my fines. I managed to get an even better job and inquired how much was still owed. They said I have a warrant for unpaid fines. Would it be a better idea to call the court there and explain my situation or turn myself in here and see if PA even wants to extradite me wouldn’t that end the warrant?

A: You may have a bench warrant. This will sit there forever unless removed by the judge who signed it. Turning yourself in on a warrant may result in you sitting in jail for weeks in CO before PA refuses to extradite you. First, you may want to call your probation officer or the probation department in that county in PA to see if this can be cleared up by a payment. It may or may not work. Next, I would call your attorney in PA or hire an attorney in PA to see if it can be handled through a motion. To have a better chance of removing the warrant, a substantial payment may need to be made. Full payment of all costs, fines and restitution may put the whole matter to rest. Follow your attorney’s advice

Employer won’t pay me!

Q: I contacted my past employer for unpaid wages. It’s been a month and I’ve sent a letter demanding pay. The manager stated it has been mailed multiple times in the past but I still have not received the check. This has not only led to me not getting paid for the holiday season. I was also delinquent and fined for not paying contractually obligated payments due to not having the funds in the bank. Is there any legal recourse I can take to not only get my original check but compensation for delinquency? (Greentree, PA)

A:  An attorney would need more facts to determine if the employer’s actions rise to the level needed for them to be civilly liable for late payments. If you are still not paid, contact the PA Department of Labor and Industry, Wage and Hour division. They can do everything from giving you advice to filing a claim against the employer for you.

Can a 16-year-old have sex with a 19-year -old in Pennsylvania?

Q: Can a 16-year-old have sex with 19-year-old legally? And if everything is 100% consensual.

A: Not a good idea. Corruption of Minors charges could be filed. I have seen this happen for a variety of reasons. For example, the relationship sours, the family of the 16-year -old, or any other person, is offended by it then talks to the police, etc. There is too much at risk for the 19-year-old. 16-year-old children are generally not emotionally mature enough to be doing this. (Pittsburgh, PA)

My aunt will not give back grandma’s house and cars in Ohio

Q: Aunt was over seeing my grandparent’s accounts and house. She was screaming at them and mocking them. Eating their food and spending their money. They asked to be rescued. I got them out of state back to PA from Ohio. Now my Aunt doesn’t want to relinquish house or cars. The police in Ohio won’t help, they say it’s PA’s problem. PA police here say they cannot force her to give up the keys in Ohio. Please give me a next step. Grandma had dementia but Grandpa has full faculties. (New Castle, PA)

A: Way more information is needed to answer this thoroughly. Is the aunt acting under a POA from grandfather or grandmother? If not, she should not be able to exercise custody of another person’s home or personal property. I think you should take your grandfather to an OH elder law attorney and have him execute a POA to you or someone trustworthy to handle business in OH. Perhaps you can find an OH lawyer who is licensed in PA. Once this is done, the Agent on the POA can go to OH, change the locks on the house and get the police involved. I think a letter from an attorney in advance to the aunt providing notice that she is in violation of the law and providing fair warning will help. If the aunt continues these actions, she is a trespasser in the home and an unauthorized user of the vehicles.

If someone has a record from another state will they get more time here?

Q: If someone has a criminal record that includes possession of substances in another state but then incurs the charges below in Pennsylvania will they be able to avoid jail time with a public defender? The person in question does have a valid diagnosis and prescription for the pain killers on hand. Does this seem like definite jail time or could a public defender offer a plea without jail time? Should a private attorney be retained for something like this?  Here is the list of charges recently incurred:  1 35 § 780-113 §§ A16 M Int Poss Contr Subst By Per Not Reg  2 35 § 780-113 §§ A31I M Marijuana-Small Amt Personal Use  3 35 § 780-113 §§ A32 M Use/Poss Of Drug Paraph  4 75 § 3802 §§ D2* M DUI: Controlled Substance – Impaired Ability – 1st  Offense  5 75 § 3301 §§ A S Fail To Keep Right

(Acme, PA)

A: No one can answer this question with any precision as much more information is needed. For example, whether there are any defenses, what the sentencing guidelines are, the position of the police and the DA. As far as a general prognosis, having prior possession of controlled substance charges and new DUI and drug charges, which according to you, are misdemeanors, this person most likely is not looking at any serious jail time. If handled correctly, this person could receive a probation sentence which will address drug counselling and rehabilitation with a negotiated plea. The prior out of state conviction will count toward his or her prior record score. The county DA will examine the other state prior charges and weigh them in accordance with the most similarly graded PA crimes in arriving at a prior record score. If the person is out on bond, it is important that they are involved in treatment and stay in treatment before they go to court.

My grandmother bought me a home, but did not leave it to me in her will

Q: As I stated above, my grandmother bought me a home to live in, which I have been in for almost 4 years. It is not stated in her will that she leaves the home to me and now her children want to kick me and my kids to the curb. What are my rights to stay in the home? Also, I’ve only paid all the utilities, not the property taxes on the home in the 4 years I have been here. (Indiana, PA)

A: I would have an attorney look at the will and the deed to this house. Generally, if you are not on the deed, you would have no rights to this property when she passes unless she included you in her will. Unfortunately, paying the utilities will not arise to any property rights

Can I do anything about her keeping my dad’s funeral money?

Q: My step-mom held a benefit and called it a “benefit for the family of Jack Allen”. She used her churches tax ID number for benefit donations. My dad did not have life insurance and was not able to save money. It was my understanding per her that the money was going to bury my dad’s ashes and the costs along with that. Now after the benefit and she has all the money she says she is not burying him. His ashes are still in an urn under her cellar steps. Instead she is keeping the money for her and my 24-year old meth addict brother. Is she breaking the law keeping the money? Can we make her spend the money on him? I do not care if some money is left and she keeps it. I want nothing to do with the money except for it to go towards my dad’s burial. (McKeesport, PA)

A: If the clear purpose of the event was to raise money to bury Jack Allen, and the money is not being used for that purpose, there is an appearance of fraud or misrepresentation. You might want to call the District Attorney in your County to see if they would want to be involved. You might also want to see a lawyer. If he did not have a will, you may have standing to petition the court to be executor and open an estate. If you were executor, you would have standing to petition the orphan’s court to be involved in seeing that the money is used for his burial.

Can me and my husband make contact?

Q: In his technical probation violation court hearing, the judge said no living with or contacting me. I talked to his probation officer and she told me that I could contact him since it was never written on the sentencing paper work that we couldn’t have contact. According to her it only said that we couldn’t live together. She was fine with us talking till we got married then she got all mad and tried to say he was violating a court order. I even asked the Clerk of Courts when I got a copy of the sentencing paper work and they said the same thing, that we could have contact since it wasn’t written on the sentencing paper work. But the probation officer (who I swear is bi-polar) told him if she gets the transcripts and it says that we can’t have contact that he could have a probation violation on his hands. Can she even do that since she told both of us we we’re allowed to have contact and that she had to go by what the sentencing paper work said? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A:  It sounds like the judge verbally ordered no contact. Generally, “no contact” means NO contact, by any method. Regardless of what the written court order says, or what the probation officer thinks, I would advise not to risk it, and follow what the judge said verbally. The judge may remember what he or she said or may have kept notes. In addition, if the transcript of the hearing is ordered, it will be clear. The safest way to seek a limited contact order is to file a motion to reconsider, in which you ask the judge to grant some form of contact.

Are the kids responsible for mother’s medical bills?

Q: Mother accrued a lot of medical bills throughout her lifetime due to illness. She didn’t own anything but a vehicle and some personal belongings so her estate will not have much to pay back her debt. Her estate would mainly be medical bills prior to her getting on Medicare and Medicaid. Will her kids be responsible to pay those bills now that she has passed? Can they garnish our personal assets? (Beechview, PA)

A: Generally, person A is not liable for person B’s debts when person B dies, unless person A signed as a guarantor on a contract. However, PA does have a filial statute that holds next of kin liable for the debts of an indigent family member. However, in my practice, I have not seen it enforced. You may or may not want to open an estate. I would consult with an attorney with whom you can share all the facts before making that decision.