Category Archives: Uncategorized

Can I live with my grandma?

Q: My dad and stepmom are verbally abusive to me and sometimes smack me, pull my hair, or once I got chocked. When my mom left at a young age my grandma was put on my legal guardian list as well as my grandfather and my dad. My aunt wants to call social services and get a social worker to check it out, should I let her do that or legally can I just live with my grandma. I’m scared that if she does call a social worker, they will refuse to let me leave and then it will just get worse. I am 15 years old. What should I do? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: If you feel your home situation is abusive, and your parents will not agree to letting you live with your grandmother, your aunt may have no other choice but to call Children, Youth and Families. CYF will investigate. They will talk to you, your aunt, your grandmother and parents and anyone else. I am thinking that if they believe your allegations, they will advise to place you with your grandmother. This can be done in two ways. The first would be by family agreement, whereby everyone agrees that your grandmother has temporary custody. The second way, if the parties (your parents) don’t agree it would involve the filing of a petition for dependency, and have a judge find you to be dependent and placed. If CYF believes you are the victim of abuse, they will remove you immediately from the home and a shelter hearing will be held in 24 hours. At the shelter hearing, I think you have a great chance of being placed with your aunt. The courts make every effort to place dependent children with family, so I am pretty sure you would ultimately be placed with your grandmother at the dependency hearing. You and your aunt or grandmother can also call Kid’s Voice in Pittsburgh. They represent children and I am sure they will help. 412-391-3100.

What do I put in my appeal?

Q: What do I need to put in a brief to the superior Court for an appeal in an Allegheny county PA child’s fast track? Appealing an emergency motion on 4 errors 1. Biased- defendant called in to Chambers without plaintiff 2. Lack of notice -served Oct 2, court on Oct 5th 3. Lack of due process-asked for a fair hearing, was not granted 4. Violation legal custody rights. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Appellate practice is tricky and has lots of rules. It is almost a specialty among attorneys. I no longer handle my own appeals and refer them to someone who does them routinely. I believe you are on a fatal course if you handle this yourself.

How can I speak to medical professionals on my mother’s behalf?

Q: My mother, 57, is receiving medical care through the VA of Michigan. I live in PA. My mother is having a hard time with the VA and isn’t emotionally capable of dealing with them. She suffers from PTSD and multiple other physical and mental ailments. She recently received a hip transplant/surgery through the VA. As previously stated, she lives with a roommate who is incapable of providing my mother with proper medical care. She needs in-home medical rehabilitation, as is normal after a major surgery. The VA has not provided her with in home care but scheduled her physical therapy through another VA facility. She was notified that her physical therapy would be canceled as she wasn’t cleared for it due to lack of post-surgery rehabilitation, which she was not provided with in the first place. This is just one instance of a situation where I feel my mother would benefit from my assistance. While I cannot assist my mother physically as we are states away from each other, it would benefit her if I could at least speak to her medical caregivers on her behalf. Does POA grant this ability, or another legal process? (Bentleyville, PA)

A: If your mother is competent, she can sign a General Durable Power of Attorney to you as well as a Medical Power of Attorney. If she is not competent to sign, or if the circumstances warrant it, you could petition the court to be her Guardian, which is much more involved than a POA. I would consult with an attorney in her area in Michigan.

Does my ex being a webcam model, or hacking my emails, affect custody case in PA?

Q: As the father I attempted to fight for custody of my son. My ex has sent harassing messages to not only me but my family as well. She mocked my cousin who has breast cancer and was going through chemo, threatened to call the IRS on my parents for not paying the child support she “deserved”. She then later screen shot her calling after the support hearing being dissatisfied. She has hacked into my Facebook, and emails, which she admitted to. She investigated evidence and conversations I had with my lawyer at the time. I do have a police case against her. She is also a cam model where she has mentioned her kids, no names mentioned, on her cam blog. I have been stricken with anxiety trying to talk to my son. I have sleepless nights and constant fear in picking up or responding to her messages as she continues to harass me. As we now live in different states my only way of communicating with her is through video chat. She continues with harassing messages while being more civil as I now being given permission from my lawyer to film the interaction. I’m just lost. (Cecil Twp., PA)

A: She sounds sweet. I assume when you mean “web cam model” she is involved in some sort of sordid pleasure for pay voyeurism? If that is what you mean, I can offer this. All sorts of parents come before Family Court judges. Those with alcohol and drug problems, serious mental health issues and criminal records. The Family Court view is, do these factors prevent the parent from parenting or put the child at risk? Certainly, it doesn’t put her in a favorable light what she is doing but it is not as bad as her being arrested for prostitution and drugs during her custody times. I would preserve the information and give it to your attorney. He or she will decide if you should use it and if so, when and how. It can only help your case but don’t think it will be the big slam dunk you are looking for. However, people like this will eventually hang themselves if you are patient and give them enough rope. As far as her communicating with you, you can obviously put an end to that if you wish, so do it or stop complaining about it. Hang in there and listen to your attorney. There is a good chance she will self-destruct.

How can I prove I didn’t write bad checks?

Q: I have to go to the Magisterial District Judge about a bad check that was written with my name and my ID. I didn’t write the check. I never even been in this specific store. How do I prove it? My wallet was stolen in 2012 while I was in the hospital recovering from surgery. I never reported it to the hospital. I just replaced the couple items I had with me after my recovery. Later in 2013 someone called me about a bad check I supposed to have written. I explained to the lady I don’t use checks at all and at the time didn’t have a checking account and I never been in her store. Basically, it wasn’t me. She looked and said the signature didn’t match and we hung up. I never thought about it again. Then, I’m paying a traffic citation and the lady tells me I have a warrant in another district. I call, and they explained to me what it was for. I’ve never been in trouble before and I don’t know how a warrant works. I just know I don’t want to go to jail for something I had nothing to do with. I went to the magistrate, pled not guilty, paid the fee for that. I go to court on the 20th. How do I go about proving this wasn’t me? It wasn’t my address and it wasn’t my account. There’s another name on the check. (Monroeville, PA)

A: I have handled many of these wrongfully accused cases as I am sure other attorneys have. The burden at the Preliminary Hearing level is for the DA to have the District Justice hold your case for the Common Pleas Court level. It is a very easy burden to meet. Proving you guilty at the Common Pleas level is much more difficult. Even though the DA has the burden to prove you are guilty, you almost have to prove you are innocent in these cases. To beat the case at the Preliminary Hearing level, you need to be super prepared and persuasive. You will fare better with an attorney. A good attorney will continue your case and gather evidence. Based on what you say, you have some defenses although I am a little confused how one of your checks was cashed at the time you did not have a checking account. My advice is to hire a private lawyer or arrange representation with the Public Defender.

If I have a warrant will I be arrested if I go to the jail to get my stuff?

Q: I need to pick up my property from my last arrest, but I currently have warrant. If I go to the county jail and attempt to get my stuff, will I be arrested? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: There is one way to find out. Bring your tooth brush just in case. No, seriously, there is a good chance. Perhaps you can have your attorney draft a Limited Power of Attorney which authorizes another person to pick up your stuff at the jail.

Can a DUI dismissed if they bruised your vein when taking blood test?

Q: Hi. I got pulled over for a traffic stop and the car smelled like marijuana. They wrote me a citation and they were going to let me go but the passenger in the back seat threw up out the window, so they made me stay and get out the car for a sobriety test. They arrested me and took me to get a blood test. (McKeesport, PA)

A: Sure. And not only can you get your case dismissed, but the police must give you a written apology and take you to breakfast! No, not so. I know of no bruised vein defense. If you feel there was something amiss with your blood draw, you can always have your attorney consult review the tests and if warranted, consult with a forensic expert to review the results.

Can a DUI dismissed if they bruised your vein when taking blood test?

Q: Hi. I got pulled over for a traffic stop and the car smelled like marijuana. They wrote me a citation and they were going to let me go but the passenger in the back seat threw up out the window, so they made me stay and get out the car for a sobriety test. They arrested me and took me to get a blood test. (McKeesport, PA)

A: Sure. And not only can you get your case dismissed, but the police must give you a written apology and take you to breakfast! No, not so. I know of no bruised vein defense. If you feel there was something amiss with your blood draw, you can always have your attorney consult review the tests and if warranted, consult with a forensic expert to review the results.

Do we need a Power of Attorney?

Q: My sister and I are taking care of our elderly mother who is 88 years old. She no longer can take care of herself we are on her bank account. We are on her will to take care of her needs when she passes. We are wondering if we need a power of attorney to take care of any other things that come up. (North Versailles, PA)

A: If your mother trusts you and your sister and your mother is competent it would be beneficial for her to have a General Durable Power of Attorney and a Medical Power of Attorney drafted by an experienced Estate attorney. With the General Durable Power of Attorney document, you can do a multitude of tasks for your mother beyond banking. I would make an appointment to discuss her needs with a lawyer.

What happens at ARD/ formal arraignment?

Q: I went to my preliminary hearing and waived it to apply for ARD. On the paper it says at the top next court action “formal arraignment”. And where it states the time it says ARD/ arraignment. Will I start the ARD program at that time or will there be another hearing after this? On the paper it looks like there will be a third hearing for plea/sentencing arraignment not yet scheduled? I’m just very confused I didn’t think I even filled out the ARD application, yet my public defender said I was offered ARD and all I did was sign to waive my Preliminary Hearing. Listen to your Public Defender. He or she knows what they are doing, trust me. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: In Allegheny County, the Formal Arraignment is an important paper signing date that you must attend. You receive your Criminal Information (charges) Pretrial Conference Notice and sign a subpoena for a court date with an assigned judge. If you qualify for ARD and the DA has made this determination prior to your Formal Arraignment, you will be handed a card to proceed to the ARD room for an interview. During the interview you will be handed an ARD offer, to accept by signing if you wish. They will also give you other papers to sign which include a Rule 600 waiver, a Release of Information, a background information form and subpoena for your next court date which is the day you are admitted into the program by a judge. Listen to your Public Defender. He or she knows what they are doing.