Q: If you want context, continue reading. If not, scroll to the bottom to see the actual question. Thanks in advance. In 2013 an ex-boyfriend strangled me. At the time the courts didn’t deem the offense worthy of more than a misdemeanor. He stole my car after the assault…to this day it boggles my mind that stealing my car was a greater offense (felony) than rendering me unconscious and cutting off my air supply during a pregnancy, but whatever. Anyway, felony dropped, he walked with a misdemeanor, and a few months in jail. Fast forward to 2018, the dockets indicate he’s been charged for the same type of offense again against yet another woman, yet this time the charges they are bringing forth are F2 charges for strangulation. Preliminary already happened, trial this month. Child endangerment charge added in the mix, I’m told he did this to the mom in front of her child. I won’t get my hopes up. Likely they’ll be lowered to a misdemeanor. None the less, at the risk of sounding salty, I would really like to be present to watch him get hauled away on a felony this time. Am I allowed to be there, just sitting quietly among the courtroom seats, or are DV trials private proceedings? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Yes, you can. Criminal proceedings are open to the public. Anyone can stroll through the Allegheny Courthouse on any given day and much like a shopping mall, enter a number of courtrooms and check out the wares. Homicide trials, shootings, DUI pleas, sentencings, motions to suppress evidence. It is like real court TV. You might also want to talk to the Assistant DA who is handling the case. In some cases, the prosecution is permitted to introduce evidence of prior events if there is a similar pattern of behavior by the defendant. The Allegheny County DA has done it in sex crime cases.