Author Archives: Bill Pelger

DUI on 6/3. He wants to Plea. I say NO!

Q: 1st DUI was over 10 years ago. The charges are 1. 75 § 3802 §§ D2*, 2. 75 § 3802 §§ D1ii* He already pulled off the road as he did not feel right, the police pulled up. He failed a test, allowed a search and was taken for blood work. He is on meds, psychiatric & suboxone. He took something else too, possibly. He wants to plea at bail hearing.  I say NO WAY. He was not read Miranda. Something medically happened around the same time. He has been diagnosed with “drop foot”(our hospital sucks! all they did was look at his foot and sent him for a foot brace. It took 15min! I got him in Pittsburgh’s Rooney Concussion Clinic to find out why this happened. He has suffered ALOT of head trauma (three 3rd grade concussions in the 6 years we have been married). I noticed his memory not working. We went to get new tires; he drove to the wrong place! He swore it was one name; when the actual name was way off and many other things with his memory, his gait, etc. I feel he shouldn’t plea. I say go for trial and take all medical docs showing there was/is a serious med issue that may support his case? (Greensburg, PA)

A: The only way to determine if “he” has a defense would be to gather all of his medical records, medical history and police reports and have them reviewed by an attorney. I have had cases in the past where someone wants to credit under the influence like behavior to prior existing injuries, over-prescribed medications, and other external factors. You will need a physician’s help as well. You do not mention a blood alcohol test. Was there one performed? If so, what were the results? In addition, one can be arrested without Miranda rights being given. Miranda protections only apply to situations where police question a defendant in their custody. Given the burden of proof of all the defenses you raise (brain damage, medications, etc.) and expense you may have in defending this, you may want to consider ARD if it is offered.


Any way to check if DUI charges are filed?

Q: I was detained for a DUI in April but have not received anything in the mail. Is there a possibility they sent to wrong address? Is there any way to check to see if charges have been filed? (West Mifflin, PA)

A: If you have no internet prowess or no computer, call the District Justice office located in the town in which you were stopped. You can also call the police department that stopped you. You can also hire an attorney to inquire. If the address you gave the police when you were stopped has changed, you may have missed your mail which is no defense legally. If you missed a court date, hire a lawyer to arrange to turn you in and set bond.

Can we get brother’s girlfriend out of the house?

Q: Our mom died and left the house to her children. The house is in the name of the three kids and we live there. My brother left the house. Unfortunately for my sister and I, he left his mentally unstable girlfriend in the house. We want her out. Now. We were thinking of locking her out and leaving her stuff under the carport for her to pick up. Someone said this may not be legal. (Swissvale, PA)

A: If she has been living there for a period of time with your consent, she may have developed rights as a month to month tenant under landlord tenant law. Therefore, you may have to evict her by filing a complaint at the local District Justice. You may want to call your local District Justice about this. They handle many evictions and may have some advice or at a minimum tell you what you need to do to start an eviction.

If not arrested how can the police take my gun?

Q I was at a dollar store and another guy was very belligerent and racist and  got into my face. I ended up walking away after a small argument. I have a broken wrist and have a titanium plate in my head and have seizures. I was at my car putting groceries in with one hand he came out of the store and was more belligerent and continued to be belligerent. He walked up to my car as close as 5 feet. I put my firearm at my side and he still did not see it. I just put one hand out and told him to go ahead and go about his business. Once he seen my other arm stop moving he kind of looked down and I had it at my side just for my protection because he was at my car and he was a little irate a little out of his mind. He run away. Everything was on camera he chased my car I pulled over at another store and ask them to call the police which they told me I need a manager first. My PTSD was kicking in if I like fight or flight so I back my car back up to the store while I knew a manager and I called the police myself but when the police came they were more focused on me. They took my firearm and gave me no paperwork. (Shenandoah, PA)

A: The police may be assessing the entire situation to determine if you should be charged or looking into your background. Based on what you describe, you were defending yourself and the other guy was clearly the aggressor. However, you have no idea what the other person told the police. You stated that you suffer from seizures and have PTSD. If you have ever been adjudicated as an incompetent or have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution under the PA Mental Health Procedures Act, you may be prohibited from possessing a firearm in PA. I would wait a week or so then call the police and ask if they intend on charging you. If they are not going to file charges, ask for return of your firearm. If they will not do it, hire a lawyer to file a motion to return property with the Criminal Court Motions Judge in your county.

Will I go to jail? Is there a statute of limitations?

Q: I was called today in reference to a woman claiming that when we had sex, it was not consensual. This accusation happened three years ago. A detective called me and asked me to come in and answer some questions. This accusation has completely blindsided me and I’m wondering what is going to happen next. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: More information is required to determine if a PA Statue of Limitations subsection applies as there are numerous factors needed to be known, like the specific charge and whether the victim is a minor. However, the statute of limitations for sex crimes has been greatly expanded over the past few years-as much as 50 years with some sex crimes. Non-consensual sex is Rape. You really need to find a lawyer asap and not speak to the police or anyone about this including friends and acquaintances. Gather your evidence from this event as best as you can. This could be a serious situation.

Can my uncle transfer his house to me without me paying inheritance taxes?

Q: My uncle is about to have surgery for cancer, and he doesn’t want his children to have his assets as they are estranged, and I have taken care of him for the last several years. How can we avoid paying inheritance tax if we transfer his house to me? (McMurray, PA)

A: Have him consult with an estate planning lawyer as soon as possible. Transferring real estate is easy to do, however, the person making the transfer must be fully advised of the consequences. If he deeds his house to someone and survives one year after the transfer, there will be no inheritance tax. However, he really needs to be apprised of whether this transfer is right for him. He may need his house to sell to pay for nursing assistance or institutional care in the future, among other future scenarios. The attorney will need to know or determine. What is his immediate medical situation? How likely will your uncle need Medicaid in the future? If he transfers this house and within the next five years applies for Medicaid, he may be penalized by Medicaid which could force the sale of the house. Does he have long term disability insurance? Does he have other assets to liquidate in order to sustain medical treatment?

Am I responsible for rent if I move out of home?

Q: My husband and I rent a home and both of our names are on the lease. Our situation isn’t the best at this time, so I am wondering should I move out of this rented home am I still liable to pay on the rent since my name is on the lease? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Yes. Look at your lease. Most likely you and your husband are listed as jointly and severally liable which means if one tenant doesn’t pay, the other tenant is liable for the entire lease payment. If you feel you are heading for divorce, you should make an appointment with a family lawyer for a consultation.

Can I sue a homeowner’s association?

Q: My basement flooded due to overflow of storm water runoff from common area hillside at my condominium. There was excessive rain that day in a very short amount of time. The local roads flooded, streams overflowed, roads were closed. Water gushed down the hillside and flooded my game room. This happened 4 times. All the time there was excessive rain. The upper side of the hillside has homes with downspouts running on to common area. Can I sue for damages to my yard and game room? I do not have flood insurance. Last issue was the 31st of October. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: I would consult with a civil litigation attorney that has handled such cases. These cases are difficult as you would have the burden to prove that either the association maintained a defective water runoff system and knew or should have known that they did. Or, if the homes on the hillside caused the runoff, whether the homebuilder is at fault because he knew or should have known that water running off his property would cause damage below. You would likely need an engineer to look at the system and write a report. Causation is the main issue. Were your damages caused by negligence or an act of nature. The fact that this has happened four times gives less credibility to an “act of nature” defense. Have you submitted this claim to your property insurance carrier? You should call them first before consulting with an attorney. Preserver your evidence. Save your photos and keep a log of all activity.

Can a 21-year-old male date a 17-year-old female in Erie PA?

Q: My friend and I have been wanting to date each other for some time but choose not to because of not knowing the legal standards in Pennsylvania. Is she able to date me and is she able to make her consent on this? I’m looking for an honest real answer because I don’t want both of us to get in trouble with the law. (Erie, PA)

A: I am not sure what you mean by “dating” but if you intend on having sex, you should be careful. Her being over the age of 16 avoids almost all the having sex with a minor crimes in the PA Crimes Code. However, you could be subject to a Corruption of Minors charge, due to the age difference. I see this happen when the parents or family of a young girl allege the older male is tending to corrupt her by having sex or furnishing alcohol. The parents could actually file the charge as she is still a minor until age 18. If anyone in her family is not on board with this you should wait until she turns 18. Even if they are OK with it, things can change.