Q: I am getting older and want to add my son to the deed. How do I do it? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: It is easy to do. You just hire an attorney to prepare a new deed with your son’s name on it. You can put him on the new deed with you or you can leave him on the deed alone. All you would pay is an attorney fee to prepare the deed and the filing fee. However, a word of caution before you do this. Please consult with an attorney with whom you can share all the facts before doing this. This may or may not be advisable for you and an attorney can only make the determination if he has information on your other financial assets, your health, your health insurance, your potential of needing Medicaid, your income and the stability of your son.
Q: I was joyriding with some of a few old friends and state troopers had flashed their lights, but I didn’t see them until they were behind me completely. Once I had announced to everyone in the car that they were behind us, the friend in the passenger passed back a black hat which unbeknown to me, had a gun in there. So eventually I see an exit ramp and try to come off, but I was going too fast and lost control of the car and crashed. Now I’m and being charged with fleeing or eluding an officer, firearm not to be carried w/o license (no crim-violence) and reckless endangering another person. (Butler County, PA)
A: Lawyer up, immediately! Gun cases (Uniform Firearms Act) are taken seriously by the DA and not often bargained down. There is always reasonable doubt for an attorney to work with when there is a gun or drugs found in a car with multiple occupants. You need a good attorney to develop that “black hat” defense. It will be easier for everyone in the car if someone admits to possessing the gun. A good attorney may be able to spin the fleeing and eluding into a summary traffic offense like reckless driving or careless, but it will be a challenge. You need to hire a private attorney or sign up with the PD, now.
Q: I got two citations in the mail for disorderly conduct and endangering others and myself I got a citation for $400. Is it better for me to pay the citation or fight it? Will itgo on my record permanently and my background checks I get to work? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Of course, it will! If you plead guilty and send in the money by mail, it will register as a conviction of a PA Summary Non-Traffic offense, which will show on your record. Under the expungement statute you can file paperwork to remove the convictions after five years of arrest-free behavior. Under the new PA Clean Slate Act, perhaps the government will remove the convictions but there is uncertainty as to when. If you are a first timer in court, an attorney may be able to have these dismissed, or at a minimum waive them to the Court of Common Pleas and enter the ARD program for first offenders. You will not have a conviction and your record will be expunged if you complete ARD. I would plead not guilty and speak with a private attorney or public defender asap. Additionally, I am unaware of an ‘endangering” charge that is a summary offense. Recklessly Endangering Another Person is a misdemeanor or felony-more reason to see an attorney, now.
Q: I went for massage because I was having a lot of back pain. I could not get an appointment at my regular spot. I called around and found a place with decent google reviews. They told me to come in at 3. When I arrived, everything was normal. For a while. I got down to my boxers which I thought was standard. The woman came back and told me to lose the boxers because she doesn’t want the lotion to get on them. So, I did, feeling very uncomfortable but I rolled with it. She then asked me roll over and worked on my legs. She asked me if I wanted something more. I laughed and said “how much” she responded no charge and she tried reaching for my you know what. I screamed at the top of my lungs, No! I jumped off the table. She told me calm down. She then said let’s finish the massage no more funny business. So, I did the rest of the massage was fine. She let me put my boxers on everything was fine after that. I’ll not return. But do need to report this? Or am in anyway will I get in trouble for this? All over the inside of this massage place it had warning signs reading “ this is a professional business do not ask for sex favors”. At no point was I “turned on” or did her hands acutely touch my area. (Moon Twp., PA)
A: Hmmmm. If there is something more to the story than you are sharing, I suggest that you consult with a criminal defense attorney. If this is the whole story, you probably need not worry about being arrested. I would let go of this and not call the police. However, if you do, you must be aware that you may end up as a defendant, a government witness or on the Six O’clock News. You have no moral duty to report this. A legal duty to report a crime? Maybe, but probably not.
Q: A friend of mine just recently got into an accident. He moved slightly into the adjacent lane going about 25-30 mph and hit the side of another car. His BAC was about .11 on a breathalyzer. No one was hurt, and everyone was very accepting of his apology. Unfortunately, he is on probation and only had 2 and a half months left. He is in jail now waiting for the blood work to come back and waiting on a court date. What can we all expect for him as far as sentencing? Is house arrest a possibility? Or are we looking at months of incarceration? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Too little information here to advise. Like, why didn’t he make bond on his DUI? Is there a probation detainer? If it is a probation detainer holding him in jail, it is for a prior DUI? Is this a first, second, third DUI? Does he have a prior record? You should see that he is represented by either a private attorney or a public defender. The fact that he was in accident will likely raise his DUI penalties. If this is a 3rd or 4th DUI, his case will go to DUI court. He will likely not have a jail sentence, but DUI court requires strict compliance and monitoring.
Q: I got a driving under DUI suspended license, but it isn’t suspended anymore. I’m off probation for my DUI. So, if I want to fight it do I still have to turn myself in on the given date at the magistrate. (West Mifflin, PA) A: I assume you are saying that at the time you were stopped and charged with 1543 (b), driving under a DUI suspension, the suspension period had expired beforehand and you think therefore that you should not be charged as you were not under suspension at the time of the stop? If so, and you obviously didn’t have your license in your possession, you can still not only be charged but can be convicted for not having RESTORED your driving privileges after the suspension period ran. The law is brutal in that it still views you as under suspension if you did not restore your license, even if your period of suspension has expired.
A 1543 (b) violation carries 60 days in jail, a $500 fine a one-year suspension for the first offense. In these circumstances, I have luck on occasion with the police working the charge out to a lesser offense that does not involve jail or a license suspension. You can restore your driving privileges by calling PennDOT or ordering from their website, a restoration requirements letter. It will require at least sending in the completed form and a fee, and, possibly, paying any unpaid fines or costs you have from OTHER cases in the system. The requirements letter will state what you need to do. I am not sure what kind of date you have before the magistrate, but if you were convicted and he gave you 30 days to turn yourself in, that sounds like you may be going to jail on that day. If you were convicted by him, you need to appeal. If you appeal to the Court of Common Pleas, Summary Appeals, the judge can give you house arrest. It sounds like you should take your papers to an attorney immediately.
Q: I was a passenger in my vehicle when the driver made a sharp turn into a parking lot and parked behind large SUV’s. He exited the vehicle and ran to the wood line, 30 feet away. My dog ran after him, I exited the vehicle and retrieved my dog, not knowing why he did this. Upon walking behind my vehicle approximately one minute after this occurred, with dog, I noticed the state police cruiser sitting approximately 30 yards away. He approached me. Long story short, I was charged with a DUI. He never asked who was driving, or anything. As soon as I gave him my personal info, he soon exited his vehicle, no lights on, and immediately began a sobriety test. I didn’t refuse to cooperate with him but didn’t provide any info. I refused to test 2 two years ago, so I figured I’d best not refuse anything. Upon searching me, he found approximately 2 grams of Marijuana. What are the chances of conviction in court for a case like this. I was never seen operating the vehicle. This was not a traffic stop or DUI stop. Secondly, will the search be rendered illegal if the DUI is beaten in court? In other words, would the misdemeanor possession be void because it was found after the DUI arrest? (Jefferson Hills, PA)
A: I assume you are charged with DUI and possession? Operation of a motor vehicle is an essential element of every DUI prosecution. If the police cannot put you behind the wheel or there is not an abundance of circumstantial evidence that can allow a juror or trier of fact to conclude that you were behind the wheel, proof beyond a reasonable doubt may not exist. If the officer saw you pull up, you are sunk. If he didn’t your testimony about the phantom driver must be perfect to be believed by a Common Pleas Court judge. The issue about the search may not bode in your favor. It could be viewed as a safety pat down given this officer finds you in a secluded area, when he is alone with you. Or, it could be viewed as a search pursuant to arrest. It all comes down to what the officer puts in his report and what he testifies to. You will need a skilled trial attorney to spin this your way.
Q: My son was stopped after “swerving”. He admitted to officer he did because he was changing music on his phone. Officer asked if he was drinking and my son admitted he had 2 beers after work and was heading home. My son passed the field test and was given a breathalyzer. The officer didn’t tell him results or arrest him. He took him to hospital for blood draw and told me summons will be in mail in a few months. Why would they take my son for bloodwork after a breathalyzer on scene? Especially since there was no accident or injuries? Is that common in PA? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: What you refer to as a “breathalyzer” was not a in fact a breathalyzer. It was likely a PBT or preliminary breath test which merely gauges the presence of alcohol. It is a small gadget which police use at the scene. It has the effect of indicating the presence of alcohol but the police like it as it can be used a probable cause and because it intimidates people in to thinking they are in trouble. The real test in your son’s arrest was the blood draw at the hospital. They are commonly used and there is not much you can do about it. If your son had two beers his BAC content should low and may be under .08 if some time had passed after the consumption.
Q: I have asked my sister to leave for months. She refuses. She pays me $200 month. Do I need to not accept any money? She only draws $500 from SSD. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: She is a month-to-month tenant under the PA Landlord-Tenant Act and therefore you must follow the landlord tenant laws to evict her. You need to post the property or her room with a 10-day notice and file at the local District Justice Office.
Q: My landlord has not returned my security deposit and is now nowhere to be found. I do not know her current address and she has not returned any of my phone calls or text messages. What can I do? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: In PA, you need to serve your landlord with written notice of your request to refund your security deposit within thirty days of moving. Send it via certified mail, return receipt to her last known address. If you do this and the landlord fails return your security deposit, he or she can be penalized under the law in addition to being ordered to return the security deposit. If it is returned, keep the card as evidence. Create a paper trail and save all your documents. You can ask your post office for advice on searching for the new address. If you fill out a request form, they may be able to give you forwarding address information. Keep your documents and if the landlord ever resurfaces you will have records to show you made a diligent attempt to find him and might be able to get your security deposit back plus damages.