Category Archives: Blog and FAQ

If I am served with a PFA, am I protected against her?

Q: The initiator of the PFA has gone on a tangent contacting my friends spreading false rumors. Now yesterday, she went to my current girlfriend’s place of employment. This is continuous, how do I go about protecting myself from her abuse and harassment?

A:  If she filed first, you are prohibited from contacting her, in any way (directly, through others, texts, telepathically, etc.) You are not protected from her. You can try to file your own Petition, but it is likely the police or court will not take a cross PFA petition. If she just filed, make sure to get an attorney for your hearing. Until then, A) record as best you can, with photos, saving texts or emails and in a log book, all incidents of contact by her directly or indirectly, B) do not respond to her at all-either via email, text, telephone, through a common friend, C) Avoid her like the plague. Do not answer her calls, do not drive near her home, work, friend’s house, etc. Keep your blinds down, doors locked and change your routine habits. Instead of going to the gym or grocery store at the same time, go at different hours. Do not take the same method of transportation to work. If you drive, drive a different route each day, or take public transportation. Try never to be alone in public. Have your cell phone ready to record when you are out in public. If necessary, arm yourself. And, follow the advice of counsel.

Will I get a probation violation?

Q: I am on probation in Allegheny County of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and I caught a new case out in Jefferson County of Pennsylvania. I was driving my buddy’s and I was trying to help a trip of his by finding his way to get some little trick girl apparently out to make some money. I was giving them gas money to get there and then we got pulled over and there were some things found in the trunk. It was like a gram of crack and a little weed pipe and a crack pipe and the needle and stuff like that. They both wrote statements on me and said that everything was mine, but it wasn’t! But they both wrote statements on me and now I am getting charged with a misdemeanor and if I get violated on my probation I could do a couple years in jail! And, I have an eight-year-old son in my life that needs me very much and I really can’t be going to do no jail time! And, I am on a felony probation for aggravated assault on an officer and by rights I am not guilty for that either, but I pled guilty to it! So, I need some advice on how to go about this because they are offering me one-year probation. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: You need a lawyer to fight the case as hard as possible at the Preliminary Hearing or at trial if you are at that stage. It is not a good situation to be in, but perhaps your lawyer can find enough of a Probable Cause issue or constructive possession issue to get this lowered to a summary. It is a long shot, but not that long. If you plead to only a summary, it is still a technical violation and in addition to the facts (hanging out with pimps, prostitutes with drugs while on probation for Aggravated Assault) you may do a little time out. However, not as much time out as if you plead or are convicted of having drugs and paraphernalia on you. Call the lawyer.

Can I get my arrest and conviction out of the news?

Q: In 2015 I was arrested for a domestic violence incident and initially charged with misdemeanor and locked up in the county prison for a week until I posted bail. Later, all the misdemeanor charges were changed to summary offenses and I was sentenced to probation and fines. All these events were covered by our local newspaper, they made this news available in their printed and online editions. The news available on the online edition is highly impacting my reputation. Also, if someone googles my name, the news articles appear on the top 3 search results. I have reached out to the newspaper to remove the internet content, but they are not responding me. I presume the news agency has their rights to cover such news, but it is highly impacting my personal life, reputation and giving me lot of depression. This is my first ever arrest and conviction. I would like to know, if an attorney can help me to get the two years old news off from the news website. Thank you. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A:  The newspaper has a 1st Amendment to print news and editorial. Moreover, this is public information and unfortunately, if the information is accurate and true, publication cannot be stopped. If the newspaper did not subsequently publish that your charges were reduced to summary offenses, then it would be fair for them to print the result, as a correction, which will perhaps lessen the blow to you. The downside is that with a second article, you run the risk of more people seeing it who may not have even seen the first one. What you should know is that you now have an arrest record for all of the misdemeanor charges that you were originally arrested for. You have a right to have these original charges expunged since they were withdrawn and amended to summary offenses. That will make you look better at least on the major criminal data bases. After five years of arrest free behavior you can expunge the summary offenses. Unfortunately, the smaller private, rogue websites out there may have records of the charges that are not expunged. After your expungement goes through you can write to them with the information and demand a correction.

Can my elderly Mother change her “Will” if she is of sound mind?

Q: My Mother wants to change her “Will” to reflect the current state of affairs within our family while she is still of sound mind. My sister, the only other family member and the current Trustee, continues to hide behind an Irrevocable Trust written for our Mother signed in 2012. There is language in the Trust which allows Mom to remove and replace Trustees. However, my sister insists she will fight ANY attempt to change her legal status by using money from the Trust to thwart our Mother’s actions and intentions. Is this possible?

A:  If your mother signed an “irrevocable trust”, she may not be able to revoke it. It all depends on the language of the trust. It sounds unusual that it is an “irrevocable trust” yet she retains the power to remove and replace trustees. I assume the trust holds most of her wealth? If so, you need an experience estate or trust lawyer to read the Trust Instrument and see what if any powers your mother has retained to revoke or change. If there is property your mother will pass on upon her death that is not included in the trust, she can dispose of that property by a will, so long as she is of sound mind to do so.

Can I be forced to take my daughter?

Q: My daughter is 17 and will be 18 in six months. She has serious behavioral issues. She has been in and out of hospitals her whole life. She is in a psych ward now for locking herself in a teacher’s lounge at school and threatening harm. My ex-wife, who have full custody of her and my 15 year-old son, doesn’t want our daughter released to her and has said a court will force me to take her. I don’t want her. Can I be forced to take her? We can’t have her issues in our house. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: You cannot be forced to take custody of her. If your ex-wife will not let her in her home, or refuses to take her home from the hospital, CYF will be called to take temporary custody of her. You will be called and offered temporary custody as well. if you don’t want her, she will be placed in a shelter and eventually placed in foster care if found to be a dependent child. As a biological parent, you and the mother will be responsible to reimburse CYF for all the money it spends on her care if she remains in foster care. I suggest you and your wife seek help for her whether it is through the courts, the school, CYF, etc. My suggestion is to call KIDS VOICE in Pittsburgh.

How do I unenroll myself from school without parent’s consent?

Q: I have been trying to remove myself from a toxic household that is mentally and sometimes physically abusive for multiple years now. I’m turning 18 in a few days. Once I turn 18 I will be leaving to live in a safer environment. However, I will need to transfer schools. I have already spoken with my old school about re-enrolling and everything is in order. All that is left to do is un-enroll from my current school, but I’m not sure how I can do so without my parent’s signature/consent. Please help, my education and development depend on this. (McKees Rocks, PA)

A: Since you are age 18, you are an adult and do not need parental signatures. PA compulsory education ends at age 17. You can leave school on your own at age 17. If you have any further questions, call Kids Voice in Pittsburgh.

 

Is Sheets responsible for anything?

Q: I bought a milkshake at Sheets convenience store for my son. I took it home and he started to drink it. He noticed small hard pieces of what he thought was ice. He showed me two pieces they are about as big a grain of sea salt. They are hard. He not sure if he digested any or not but he thinks so. So far there are no issues. I did go back to Sheets and report it to a manager. She grabbed the shake and ran in the back of store with it. She wanted my bag with the objects, but I said I wanted them in case he gets sick to show any doctors. She gave me a number to Sheets customer service. I called them and explained. They gave me claim. Is this situation grounds for anything? (West Mifflin, PA)

A:  Let us hope that he has no ill effects from the shake. Personal injury cases require injury. Plus, even if the objects in the shake are some sort of poison, or harmful, you lost the evidence by giving the shake to the manager. These people are trained to hide and/or destroy any food that is returned so there is no evidence against them. I know you thought you were trying to do the right thing and they caught you off guard. At least you kept the bag. Had you kept the shake you could have taken it to a lab for testing. I would monitor your son and if he has any unusual conditions, take him to a doctor. Hold on to your bag and anything else you have, like a receipt. Make the claim and keep notes on everything. You need to demand an explanation from Sheets and verify what these foreign materials are. I would not cease to persist until you get an answer. I would demand that the material be sent to an independent laboratory. If you do not get an explanation, hire an attorney and they will move quicker.

Can I be charged with indecent exposure for being nude genitals covered?

Q: I’m a nudist who wants to be as nude as possible as often as possible. The laws for PA I’ve found online don’t seem to stress anything else outside of genitalia interaction, other than offensive sexual gestures. Could I possibly garden or go to a public place (that doesn’t require some specific dress code) while mostly nude except for a covering over just my genitals without being charged for a crime? Or is there a law against baring one’s buttocks in public? If there is, could I walk around in most public places or in public view wearing just a speedo or G-string bikini? Just how nude can an innocent nudist be in most public places and in private but public view, a nudist with no intention to alarm, offend, or sexually arouse people through nudity, while remaining free from a conviction? (Beaver Falls, PA)

A: Pennsylvania defines Indecent Exposure as conduct involving a person who “exposes his or her genitals in any public place or in any place where there are present other persons when he or she knows or should know that this conduct is likely to offend, affront or alarm.” Yes, your genitalia must be covered under a strict interpretation of the statute. However, I think you would be pushing the limits by appearing in public dressed in only a speedo or G-string bikini. I have no doubt that some citizen will have an issue with you and the police will be called. The police are likely not to agree with your interpretation of the statute and you will be cited or arrested. My suggestion would be to do this behind a privacy fence in your own yard or join a nudist colony if you are not already a member.

Does a felon have to do to get his records cleared to rifle hunt in PA?

Q: Hi. I am a felon. I’ve grown up hunting and I know I can use a crossbow. I have kids and would love to be able to teach them how I was taught when I was growing up, with a rifle. Now I know with a felony I can’t do that but was told there is ways, so wanted to ask. What do you think? (Lincoln Borough, PA)

A:  If you are certain you were actually convicted of a felony, you cannot possess a firearm under PA and Federal law. You cannot expunge the felony. You may be eligible for a pardon, but it is a not an easy task. You should consult with an attorney who handles pardons in PA.

How long do you have to wait for your warrant to be drop?

Q: I have three warrants. I want to know how long do I have to wait for them to be drop and cleared off? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Warrants for arrest relating to criminal charges, do not just expire or go stale. They can stay in the system for decades. They can lay in wait for you like a hidden shard of glass on a sandy beach. You are unlikely to be hunted down in a warrant sweep for some minor unpaid fines, but if you have a warrant for a misdemeanor or felony, you could be caught in a sweep. You could also be detained if you come in contact with police for something simple, like a traffic ticket or appearing in court. I would deal with it proactively. An attorney can assist you.