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.