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 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 If you were not convicted, meaning, the charge was withdrawn, dismissed or you were found not guilty, the arrest record may still exist, and you can expunge it.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: 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 If you were found not guilty or the misdemeanor or felony was dismissed or withdrawn, you would have to answer yes if asked if you were ever charged with a misdemeanor.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 If you were not convicted (not guilty, withdrawn, dismissed) of a misdemeanor or felony, the arrest record will nonetheless still exist, and you must pay an attorney to expunge it.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.
Q: I have a 27-year-old felony. I was charged with involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault from May 1991. How can I get out of this? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: I think you are asking how to get this charge taken off you record which is called an expungement You cannot get it expunged since you were convicted, and it was a felony. Until the legislature allows expungements of felonies, you are stuck. When asked, perhaps you can put a favorable spin on it. You will need to file for a Pardon. Consult with an attorney who handles pardons.
Q: I have never gotten in trouble before, perfectly clean record. No speeding tickets, traffic tickets, or anything. However, the other day I ended up getting picked up for public intoxication. I walked into an apartment building which I initially thought was mine and alarms went off. Once I realized the alarms were going off I stepped outside and sat on the steps and waited. I did not want to make it appear that I was doing anything malicious, so I sat and waited for the police to come. I was completely cooperative and nice to the police. I understood that they were just doing that job and I was making that clear. Looking over my citation, there is no docket number or total due amount. I’m just wondering what exactly this means. Also, is there any possible way that the MDJ could possibly just void the citation? I’m just hoping to keep it off my record. I have done research and I understand that ARD programs could solve this, but I plan on asking about my options at the MDJ and don’t plan on fighting the case. (Brentwood, PA)
A: If you have a pristine record, I can understand your concern. If convicted, this non-traffic summary offense will stay on your record for five years before you can pay an attorney to expunge it. An experienced attorney can guide you on how to get this charge withdrawn. You may have to do something in exchange like community service or a drug and alcohol evaluation. Frankly, if you are so intoxicated that you walked into the wrong building, you may need this. In today’s gun-crazed stand-your-ground world, you could have been riddled with bullets from an AR-15. Also, even if this summary citation is withdrawn, you will have to expunge the record of its issuance. Until you do, the records will still exist for all inquiring minds to find. I would try to have it withdrawn instead of burning your ARD card now. It is nice to keep the ARD option for future use, especially if you do not stop drinking.
Q: I got a felony 1 and felony 2 pertaining to an aggravated assault case in 2001. It’s been over like 17 years almost. I just want to move on and better my life, but I can’t get a good job due to the record. What can I do. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: If you were convicted of the felonies, they cannot be expunged. At least under the present state of the law. If you are not certain if you were convicted of the Aggravated Assault and the charges may have been reduced (to a misdemeanor or summary) you should get your criminal record to verify your history. You can expunge summary convictions after 5 years of arrest free behavior and certain misdemeanors under new expungement laws. If you are certain you have these felony convictions, your only hope is a pardon. In that case, seek out the advice of an attorney who handles pardons.
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.
Q: Seven years-ago I took a plea deal. I was 20 years old and made a horrible mistake. This was the one and only time I ever got in trouble. When I took the deal, no one explained to me I would be in ineligible for expungement. Not my lawyer, not the DA, not the judge. I never would have never taken the deal if I had known this. What are my option? Can I do anything? All advice is greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance. (Carrick, PA)
A: I suggest confirming what crime you pleaded guilty to, so you are certain it is a felony. You can do this by ordering your criminal history from the PA State Police. Under the present state of the law, a felony cannot be expunged. You are well out of your appeal range. You must appeal within thirty days of your sentencing. Or, under the Post-Conviction Relief Act, you have one-year to file. You may want to consult with a criminal appeals attorney, but my thought is that it is too late to challenge the appeal. I know of no law that requires anyone to inform you at the time of your plea that you will be ineligible to expunge. The fact that you are entering a guilty plea to a crime should put you on notice of a conviction, although, I understand what you are saying. I always inform my clients that their conviction will result in a record which they may not be eligible to expunge.