Q: She was mailed 2 charges at her dorm at IUP. One for public drunkenness and one for “possession” which she did not have. She was transported to ER in an ambulance but walked in voluntarily (called by a college student resident). She noticed while in her room that there was a backpack on a chair that the nurse said was brought in with her. It was not her backpack and she didn’t bring one with her to town. She said it had a male student ID in it of no one she knows. Her trial was rescheduled 7 days later, and we have just found out that the requesting person is a police officer that has a bad record and notorious for doing things like this. Should we get legal representation? We are not fighting the drunkenness charge but do want to fight the possession charge. She was not carrying any beverage or container and did not purchase anything. We simply want to ultimately have her record expunged for underage drinking. We definitely want to fight the possession now that we know the officer has a history. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Don’t risk her future, speak with a lawyer. The public drunkenness, if convicted, will stay on her record as a non-traffic summary offense for 5 years, before she can expunge it. The possession is a misdemeanor which could also stay on her record for I believe 10 years if convicted, before she can expunge it. There are ways to have these charges dismissed or first-time offender’s programs available that involve a withdrawal. An experienced criminal defense attorney can guide you through this. The police could even add a charge under 18 PA CSA Section 6308 for underage drinking which also can result in a record and a driver’s license suspension. That charge too has a first-time offenders disposition that can be offered. Again, do not plead guilty to any of the summaries and request a hearing to be heard at the time of the Preliminary Hearing on the misdemeanor possession case.