Q: I worked for this elderly man for a long time. He died and left me a nice car and paid the taxes for me. Now I was arrested for theft and elder abuse and the car was impounded. It has been six months since the arrest and no charges have been filed. I received all bond money back, but the car is still impounded. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: You need to prove how the car is yours. If it was left to you in a Will, or the deceased man left at least a note stating that you are to receive his car, that would be some proof. All you have is your word. When property is confiscated by police, but the accused is never charged, the accused can petition the court to have the police return his or her property. If you were the owner, the police would need to comply with the order and return the property to you, its rightful owner. I imagine the car will become property of the deceased man’s estate. In that case contact the Executor or attorney for the estate and tell them what happened.
Q: My brother is in and nursing home and has schizoaffective disorder and hypertension. Can I obtain a power of attorney over him? (West Mifflin, PA)
A: Seek the opinion of his physician as to whether or not he is competent to sign a Power of Attorney. He may or may not be even with his diagnosis.
Q: I need to transfer my boyfriend’s title to his car. I’m currently trying to sell his car, but he is going to be incarcerated for 8 months and I have potential buyer. How do I do the title change? (Baldwin Borough, PA)
A: You will likely need to take the title to the jail for him to sign and you may need to take a notary with you. You may also be able to have a Limited Power of Attorney drafted for him to sign which authorizes you to sign a title for him.
Q: My business and all my vehicles are registered in PA but I live in another state. Will I have to do house arrest at the address that my license says or can I make a move and change the address before all this stuff comes down. I don’t want to put burden on my parents. It happened January 3rd. I assume I will have to go to school and might have to get one of those breath thingies in my car. I’m scared, frankly. (Boardman, OH)
A: It will be treated as a second DUI as it is within ten (10) years of the last one. As such, the statute reads 30 days to 6 months imprisonment and a $750 to $3000 fine. Of course, you will have other fines and costs, have a CRN evaluation and attend safe driving classes. If it is Allegheny County, you may be eligible for house arrest. Allegheny County will transfer your probation to the out of state county in which you live. What might be tricky, is transferring house arrest, electronic home monitoring. If the county in your state does not have such a set up, the Allegheny County probation office may not transfer it and you will have to set up a residence in Allegheny County, or do jail or alternative housing in Allegheny County.
Q: I got into a fight with my fiancé 10 days ago and I fell and hit my head when he was trying to take away my phone. I was really scared, called the police and then he was taken to jail. I was convinced to get a temporary PFA and now I’m sitting here just wanting to talk to him about the whole thing to see how we can work it out. He lives 2 hours away now with his mom. Will I get in trouble if I go to his town and try to meet with him to talk? I’m planning on dropping the PFA at the final hearing. (Pine Township, PA)
A: Do him a favor, wait until the hearing. He runs the risk of being arrested for contempt of the PFA order if you initiate communication. You may also want to consult with a domestic abuse counselor.
Q: Since I owed more on car than actual cash value, after settling my car note on totaled vehicle, I now have no car, which I need for work. Can I sue for distress or inconvenience? (West Mifflin, PA)
A: Your vehicle coverage is based on the value of the car, not on what you owe. If you were injured you can sue for pain, suffering, inconvenience and lost wages. I would consult with a personal injury attorney.
Q: A friend and I got into a fight two months ago in a private bar we go to. He runs from the police, he gets caught. I got to a house on the corner and got patched up. I NEVER even seen a cop that night or speak to any. I think the bar gave my information. (McKees Rocks, PA)
A: Yes, police can file charges based upon “information received”, and they do it all the time. The witness from whom the information came from will need to be present in court to testify for the police to make a case. I would discuss this with a lawyer.
Q: My friend has a suspended license in PA. They were told that they can have their car placed in someone else’s name and be able to drive it, is this true? It doesn’t sound legal to me, but their attorney suggested this to them? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: That is not going to work. The PA driver’s license follows the driver not the car. I can’t believe an attorney gave this advice. Perhaps he is trying to build his client base.
Q: When I was pulled over for my marijuana DUI the officer said I would get ARD. My kids where in the car and everything I’m reading says I will not be able to get ARD if minors where in the car. The officer also stated he would tell the judge I was very cooperative, but it seems that there isn’t much that can help me. I have a consultation scheduled with a lawyer, but I have very little money. I am the main supporter of my family and it was just Christmas, so I feel I am in a very bad position with no options it is really worrying me. (Rochester, PA)
A: Each county District Attorney sets its own criteria for ARD eligibility. It would not be unusual for crimes like Endangering Children (EWOC) or Recklessly Endangering Another Person to make you ineligible for ARD. In situations where someone in your situation who obviously has no criminal record, the DA can make an exception and drop those additional crimes to allow you to enter ARD on the DUI alone. In my county, it often takes a letter from an attorney asking for this type of exception to be made. Your options are to hire an attorney, or, talk to the officer and see if he will help you out by talking to the DA on your behalf and requesting the charge that makes you ineligible (EWOC) be withdrawn. If this is a plea, I am sure you can find an attorney to work with you on the fee if you call around. You should also talk to the Public Defender in your county to see if you qualify.
Q: I went to a hospital to have surgery and everything thing went wrong. That was three years ago. I gave my wife a durable power of attorney before the surgery. I was in ICU for several month. In January of 2018 my wife and I separated, and she stuck me in a nursing home. I became paralyzed at the hospital three years ago. While in the nursing home my brother and I were informed that when my mom died there was life insurance. My brother received his share. My wife took mine and cashed it saying she had power of attorney. At the time of the surgery things were not clear. The past two years I’ve been making my own decisions. Was she right or did she forge my name? (Jefferson Hills, PA)
A: If someone is competent to act on their own, they still can and the person holding the POA as Agent must defer to them. If the Agent continues to act against the wishes of the Principal, the Principal can revoke the POA. In your situation, if you were incompetent and your wife was acting under a legal POA signed by you which appointed her as Agent, then she can act on your behalf. The question is whether the POA specifically allowed her to exercise control over and keep for her own, insurance proceeds payable to you, assuming that is what she did. The basis of every POA is that the Agent must act in the best interest of the Principal and only act within the limitations of the written Power of Attorney. If this POA was drafted after January 1, 2015 when the new POA statute came into effect, the document must clearly state that she is authorized to liquidate insurance proceeds and make a gift to herself, assuming that is what she did. I suggest you gather documents such as the POA and the insurance records and consult with an attorney regarding whether the POA allowed your wife to do what she did.