Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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 roommate put video surveillance cameras in our house?

Q: I live in a four-bedroom house with three other roommates. Since they have moved in they have been a nightmare to live with. They moved all the furniture out and since that point in time installed security cameras in both the living room and kitchen. The cameras record video and audio. Is it legal for them to do this in the state of Pennsylvania? Is this a violation of wiretapping laws? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: You should consider moving out and certainly bring this to the attention of the landlord. Audio taping without your consent is a definite violation of PA wiretap laws. However, if the cameras are in plain view I do not think the video violates PA wiretap laws.

I wrecked my car and my son’s drugs were in it which I didn’t know

Q: I was driving and ran off the road. No property damage. My granddaughter was in the back seat. No injuries. Drugs and paraphernalia that was not mine was in the car and I didn’t know about it until the police stuck it in my face. I own the car, but my son drives it all the time. What kind of charges and outcome am I looking at? How do I prove they were not my drugs? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: If you are guilty or plan on pleading guilty, to determine what your sentence would be depends on several factors such as the type and quantity of drugs and your prior criminal record. If you have no record or a minimal criminal record and the drugs are consistent with personal use, marijuana or even heroin, you could be looking at probation. If they found several pounds of packaged heroin in your car, that is another matter. Also important is where the drugs were found in the car. The Commonwealth would have the burden to prove a theory of constructive possession beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you. These cases are very fact specific. If all the facts in their totality indicate that you may not have been in possession of the drugs and they may have belonged to someone else, you may have a defense. Only a skilled criminal defense attorney would know so I suggest you consult with one.

Can a 16-year-old continue to live in a house alone if his father is in jail?

Q: If a single father is sent to jail for 6 months, is it legal for his 16-year-old son to continue to live alone at the home they rented? Does the child need to be emancipated? Are there any legal/liability implications for the landlord in this situation? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: The child is still a minor and therefore is without proper supervision or control of an adult. This would constitute “neglect” under the Juvenile Act. This probably should be brought to the attention of the police or CYF. They will likely place him with a relative or friend of the family and if none are available, place him in shelter until he could be placed in foster care. A “mandated reporter” would have a duty to notify CYF or the police of a minor in such a situation. As a landlord, I do not think you are a mandated reporter. However, given the well-being of the child, it would be wise to notify CYF or the police. If you want to go above and beyond, you can reach out to his family to see if someone can take him in or someone can live in the apartment until his father is released.