Q: My mother and her husband engaged in a verbal argument, it got physical, she proceeded towards my location further down the street not knowing I was at my girlfriend’s residence on the porch. While making her way towards me, she then collapsed, and hit her skull on the ground. It appeared to me as an overdose, while kneeling to her aid I told my girlfriend to call 911. Her husband began to get irate, insisting they leave, and she did not need medical attention. I ignored him, moments later her he reached for my fully loaded firearm. It’s was holstered up against my spine, while I was kneeling to my mother the position became comprised, I realized what he was attempting to do, and struck him with my left elbow and gained control over my weapon with my right hand, I then removed the gun from behind me to my side, barrel facing towards the ground. Later the police alleged that I put the firearms to my step father’s head. I am now being charged with recklessly endangering another person. If this is a one person’s word against another’s, you have a good shot at a not-guilty verdict at trial. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: I am assuming your mother’s husband alleges you pointed the gun at his head. That would be the evidence. Evidence does not necessarily have to be in the form of videotape. So, as you have just learned, charges can be based on victim testimony. You have the right to defend yourself and counter the victim’s story with your own testimony and testimony of other witnesses if there are any. I suggest since this case involves a gun, a felony and potential jail sentence, that you consult with a lawyer.
Q: I pleaded guilty to a M1 charge. They told me they would give me a fine and it will be a non-traffic fine. I’m still paying on the 1100 fine. Will the charge change once the fine is paid off?
A: The fact that you are asking this question is not reassuring that you even know what happened to you in court. A plea to and conviction of a Misdemeanor 1 and a plea to and conviction of a Non-Traffic Summary offense, are entirely different things. A Non-Traffic Summary offense is usually satisfied by fine. A plea to a Misdemeanor 1 will result in confinement or probation or both. If you cannot ask your lawyer who handled this, call the court to see exactly what your sentence was and what you were convicted of.
Q: If a 17-year-old with no license receives an underage drinking citation with an immediate loss of license for 3 months, but doesn’t get his license until he is 25, is the citation still valid?
A: Assuming you pleaded guilty or were found guilty of the underage drinking offense, the correlating driver’s license suspension from PennDOT does not take effect until the person gets a driver’s license, if they had none at the time of the offense. PennDOT doesn’t forget.
Q: I was recently involved in a traffic accident involving injury while under suspended license. I was free to leave the scene. I have received the police report and that’s it. My father received a phone call from the sheriff looking for me with a felony warrant. Why is this and what steps should I take? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Because your actions arise to felony charges in PA. To be charged with a Felony 1 in these leaving the scene of an accident cases, there needs to be serious bodily injury. The police often charge this if there is just bodily injury, because it is not known at the time they file the charges if the victim has incurred serious bodily injury or not.
3742. Accidents involving death or personal injury.
(a) General rule.–The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close thereto as possible but shall then forthwith return to and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident until he has fulfilled the requirements of section 3744(relating to duty to give information and render aid). Every stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
(b) Penalties. —
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, any person violating this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Also, if you are operating a motor vehicle and have an accident when you are not licensed, i.e., suspended, revoked, etc., you can be charged with a Felony 3.
Do not make statements to the police and get yourself an attorney.
Q: I got a speeding ticket in Allegheny County, PA. The officer cited “Speeding 60 MPH Allowed 55 MPH”. He told that I was doing 78 MPH (He did put that on the ticket: actual 78 mph), he was giving me a break and there would be no points and record. Should I just plead guilty and pay the $150 fine or hire a lawyer to fight for it? (Youngstown, OH)
A: Unless a motorist has a bad driving, record was going excessively fast, or was a jerk to the officer, most officers will work out a speeding ticket to 5 mph and under to avoid points being assigned to the motorists driving record. Usually the officers only do this at the hearing. If you trust the ticket is indicated so, you could mail in a guilty plea and the required payment.
Q: My boyfriend has been in jail for more than 6 months already. He was charged with theft, again, while in jail. The judge sentenced him to 6 more months, to be run concurrent with his other time. So why is his lawyer saying that his time didn’t start till 4 days ago? (Jefferson Hills, PA)
A: I would ask his lawyer first. Just because two sentences are “concurrent” with each other does not mean that they start and stop at the same time, or simultaneously. For example, if he is serving a 6-month sentence that started on January 1, 2018 it would end on June 1, 2018. If he was sentenced to a new 6 -month sentence on March 1, 2018, it will end on September 1, 2018, not June 1, 2018.
Q: I went into a vehicle purchase agreement with someone. After I signed the contract, the buyer wrote something in blue ink after one of the terms and then signed it. I did not agree to the new term. Am I bound to the original terms or is the new term binding? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: One party cannot unilaterally amend or add new terms to a contract after both parties sign it. It is considered a counter offer, which must be accepted or rejected by the receiving party. If you did not agree to this amendment of the contract either verbally, or by signing or placing your initials near the amended or added term, you did not consent. I would reject the term in writing and make sure the document is given to the other party and you keep a copy for your records. Some people in this situation would write next to the term, “this additional term dated _____ is rejected”, and date and sign or place their initials next to it the added term.
Q: I need my Act 34 clearances for a day care position. I have a felony endangering the welfare of a child? (McKeesport, PA)
A: If you were convicted, no. You will need to find alternative work. If you were not convicted, meaning, the charge was withdrawn, dismissed or you were found not guilty, the arrest record may still exist, and you can expunge it. Then, if expunged you would be eligible.
Q: What form would I use to request outpatient treatment for my father who is incompetent?
A: More information is needed to fully advise you. However, most people who need to act on behalf of another person, require a Power of Attorney. However, if the person is not competent to sign one, this will not work. In that situation you may need to become his legal guardian through a court proceeding. If a service provider will act on your request without either because you are next of kin, you may not need to be guardian for that specific purpose. Ultimately however, you may need to be appointed as his guardian.
Q: I provided a false name and then later sucked it up and told them. I went to court for it and was told I had to do community service. I completed my community service, and everything was ok. But on job applications it asks if I have had a misdemeanor before. I’m confused if it shows I have one or not. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: I suggest that you find out if you pleaded guilty to the crime or were found guilty, and if so what specific crime it was and how it was graded. If “guilty” was entered, you must answer yes if asked if you were ever charged or convicted of a crime. If you were found not guilty or the misdemeanor or felony was dismissed or withdrawn, you would have to answer yes if asked if you were ever charged with a misdemeanor. If asked if you were convicted, you can answer no. If you were not convicted (not guilty, withdrawn, dismissed) of a misdemeanor or felony, the arrest record will nonetheless still exist, and you must pay an attorney to expunge it. Also, certain misdemeanors can be expunged after a certain amount of time passes. I suggest you copy your court documents from the UJS portal website or from the Allegheny County Clerk of Courts and take them to your lawyer. Once you are charged with a crime, that records stays in the system even if the charge is ultimately dismissed, withdrawn or you are found not guilty.