Category Archives: Criminal Law

Can I tell judge husband does not deserve jail in victim impact?

Q: We were both charged with domestic violence, simple assault. My case will be dropped but he is on probation for non-violent traffic plea deal. I received paper in mail this week asking for victim impact statement. Can I take this opportunity to tell the judge my man is actually innocent and the negative effects this is having and has had on our family is due to the judicial system and him being held in jail instead of home raising our baby and providing for us as he always has? He does NOT deserve the charges. I want to know if this can hurt him at all if I plead to let him come home? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Every victim is afforded the right to speak at a defendant’s sentencing. Since I am not intimately familiar with the facts here, I suggest you run this past your attorney first. This is to make sure that anything you say will not jeopardize the plea agreement that you have been offered. You stated your case, “will be dropped”, so you want to make sure that happens. Secondly, you need to be careful that what you say at his sentencing is not contrary to your prior statements in the case which led to his arrest. This could lead to false report charges being filed against you. You may also want to seek counseling with a domestic violence therapist.

Can friend or family represent someone in court if that someone refused his Public Defender?

Q: Am I allowed to represent someone who is family or friend in court, if they agree that I do so? My nephew was charged with a crime and he requested I help him, as I have experience in the legal system. He refused a public defender and could not afford an attorney. I was then arrested and charged with tampering with evidence to trying to help him.

A: You must be a licensed attorney to represent someone in court. It is commendable that you will help him. You may be better served in helping his attorney as far as gathering information or tracking down witnesses. I suggest you let a lawyer make the legal decisions. If your friend cannot afford a private lawyer, contact the Public Defender. If you treat the PD with the respect, they will treat you likewise. Having a lay person represent me in court who has “…experience in the legal system” to me, would be like letting the receptionist at my doctor’s office perform surgery on me.

Can friend be arrested for telling a cop he would sell drugs?

Q: Can he get charged with anything even if he didn’t sell any? My friend told a cop he sold drugs. But when the cop went to go get the money he left. He never sold him anything just told him he had it can he get charged with anything? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: I really doubt it. There is no physical evidence-no drugs, no money, no witness to a delivery. There are people that confess to murders all the time who didn’t commit them. They do this because they have mental health issues. People say all sorts of things. I don’t think it even arises to the level of attempt or conspiracy as there is no overt act toward the expressed verbal intent. Tell your friend to not talk to guys who look like body builders, have shaved heads and act like they need drugs. They are probably cops.

Can he work as a CNA with prior involuntary manslaughter?

Q: I am asking this for my other half because he wants to get back in to CNA and had charges of involuntary manslaughter? Would he be able to work in PA as one? He served all his time for it and has nothing pending. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Not as my mother’s caretaker. Just kidding. I assume he was adjudicated guilty-either pleaded or was found guilty? If so, you need to contact the PA state board that licenses certified nursing assistants and ask them. I would think he would have to have a criminal history check and some sort of official state clearance and therefore he would be ineligible. Check www.nursinglicensure.org. They may have a Q & A section on their site or a contact number. Good luck.

I’m out on bail, hit a car and took off. Will my bond be revoked?

Q: I got arrested for a crime that I did not commit, and I am out on $30,000 bond. I had an accident last night. My airbag came out and it was like being punched in the face. I couldn’t see a thing and I swiped another vehicle. At that point I was in shock all I remember is being at my boyfriend’s house after that. Will they revoke my bail bonds for this? (Evans City, PA)

A: If you are arrested for leaving the scene of an accident, (75 PA C.S.A. Sec. 3743) the DA could petition the court to revoke or raise your bond. It depends on how your county normally handles such matters. I would consult with an attorney regarding the intimate details this new event for advice on how to proceed and what options you have.

This guy called me 40 times with voicemails saying he was waiting for me.

Q: I am seeing this lady and her soon to be ex-husband thought I was with her in a hotel. So, he called me 40 times in a few hours and left voicemails saying he was waiting for me and was going to cut my head off. I also have him on camera letting the air out of my tires. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: You need to avoid him at all costs and call the police. We live in a violent society, so you need to protect yourself and I don’t mean buy a gun and confront him. Make a record of it and the police will advise you as to whether you have enough evidence to file harassment charges

Can a 20-year-old be charged for statutory rape if she is 16?

Q: Her parents are okay with her having sex. She had a previous child which she had at 14 (not by me) and she is perfectly capable of consenting. She sleeps around a lot and it was all consensual. I believe I got her pregnant. So, my question is, could I be prosecuted if I am 20 years old for getting a 16-year-old pregnant? I know the age of consent in Pennsylvania is 16. But it is confusing. Maybe she shouldn’t put my name on the birth certificate since it may not be my child. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: People ages 16 years old and older can legally consent to sexual activity. The only crime you could be charged with would be Corruptions of Minors. That is unlikely if the victim or her family do not want to pursue it. Unlikely, but not impossible, especially if the relationship sours. Whether she should put your name on the birth certificate is another subject of discussion and you should seek the opinion of a Family Law attorney. Doing so will add to the presumption that you are the father.

Sold 6.5 grams of marijuana and got a felony

Q: This happened 10 years ago when I attended Penn State. I have had no trouble since. Even the D.A. later said “usually you get a choice of either a misdemeanor and a few months of jail or a felony and no jail time. Well he was the D.A., so I am sure he did not have my interest foremost in his mind. When I got sentenced his assistant DA was the one at my case. I served my sentence but now the felony is ruining my chances of a good life. How can they give me a felony if the guidelines say a misdemeanor for anything under 30g’s? What can I do? (Monroeville, PA)

A:  It sounds like you pleaded guilty to a felony for delivery. Regardless of the amount, a delivery is a delivery and always a felony. I don’t practice in your county and in my county, this case probably would have been worked out to a misdemeanor or even a summary. Since this happened 10 years ago, you have missed your appeal deadline of 30 days and your rights under the PA Post Conviction Relief Act, which require filing within one-year of conviction. Unfortunately, your only option is a pardon.

Can a non-traffic citation turn into a felony if I missed court?

Q: I had a yellow ticket non-traffic citation for a minor harassment from confronting a person. I had my background apparently checked with an employer and says I have a felon? is it possible that I am mixed up with a different person since I have a hyphenated last name?

A: If you miss a non-traffic summary hearing, it is possible you can be found guilty in absentia, of the non-traffic offense. You should have been mailed a copy of the order informing you of your conviction and your right to appeal within thirty (30) days. I don’t believe the Court, nor the officer, would have authority to amend the charge up to a Felony. If they wanted to do that, they would have to amend the charges, refile and provide you with proper notice. It is possible, for example, they cited you then later learned a gun was involved in the threat. However,  I think there is some confusion here. I suggest you get a copy of the record the employer has or order a copy of your criminal history from the PA State Police.

Can my son get jail with a Felony 1 Burglary charge?

Q: My son was in the vehicle and never got out of the vehicle when an acquaintance broke into a home to steal marijuana the homeowner was home and shot the kid in the leg my son hopped in the driver’s seat of the perpetrators car and drove him out of there was immediately arrested and has been incarcerated since December they are taking it to trial my son has no representation and is facing some Hefty charges. (West Mifflin, PA)

A: Even without a prior record, these charges could result in a jail sentence. I’ve had similar cases and the facts are different in every case, so you cannot necessarily say he will get jail or he will not get jail. Working against you is that it is likely believed that your son was involved and not merely present at the scene by some misfortune. In one of my cases, the kids broke into a local pot grower’s home, hit him with a bat, broke his arm, rolled him up in a carpet and were running out the door with marijuana plants when the police arrived. My client was hiding under the cellar steps when the police arrived. He wouldn’t come out, so they let a German Shepard loose on him. By the time of trial, the co-conspirator that was to testify against all the defendants OD’d and died and because the victim was as drug dealer and less sympathetic in the eyes of law enforcement, the DA and cops allowed my client to plead to receive probation. I think the police also went a little easy on my client because he was pretty chewed up by the dog. (lacerations, stitches, nerve damage, etc.) The point is that every case is different. Perhaps your son’s attorney can distance your son from the other guy and perhaps the police and DA do not like the alleged victim if he is a known drug user or dealer. Your son is no doubt young and has no criminal record, which will work in his favor. He needs an attorney whether private or public.