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.
Q: I was at a party and some people were being quite loud and campus police were checking in and had eventually entered the home. They shut down what was going on and lined everyone up before exiting the home warning people not to flee out of the rear of the house. Checking people’s bags for alcohol in which they had to throw out if they did possess it and asking them for ID which they verbalized names over a body cam. Now, if no one was arrested could there still be future ramifications? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: For summary offenses, citations can be issued at the scene, or by mail. The police can also charge misdemeanors without physically arresting someone. They can take the information and mail a summons to the person. You will likely receive a citation in the mail and a hearing date. Do not plead guilty. Underage drinking under section 6308 of the PA Crimes Code is a summary offense, which if you are convicted of, will stay on your record for 5 years before you can pay to have it expunged. Additionally, it carries a driver’s license suspension which will come in the mail from PennDOT, weeks later. Many District Justices offer a first-time offender’s program which will allow you to avoid a conviction, but it is not always offered unfortunately. Make sure the address the police have is a good one. If you do not receive mail at the address you gave them, miss the hearing and are convicted, you are out of luck. Hire an attorney if you can.
Q: There was a PFA put on him while he was in jail, that he wasn’t a part of because it was an alleged domestic situation. She has been contacting him to see his child and asked him to be around. If she allows him over numerous of times, is she in violation? (West Mifflin, PA)
A: No, he should avoid her like the proverbial plague. PFA law is a one-way street. The law is designed to protect the victim and no contact means no contact. There is no in between. He would be arrested if he visits her, an argument breaks out and she calls the police. Now, once he is arrested on the PFA violation, he can use her contacting him to establish that the PFA was void by her actions, at his trial. If he wants to be safe, get her attorney to file a motion to vacate the PFA.
Q: It’s been since 12/28/2017 and I went to court on 2/02/2018 and they continued it till 02/14/2018. I’ve never really be arrested fingerprinted or had a bail set for this case never had my rights read or signed them for that matter. This is not my first or second run in with the law I just don’t know what’s going on. I work full time but I can’t pay a lawyer straight out but I can do payments if someone is willing to work with me. I just need help. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: If you have a pending Preliminary Hearing, I assure you, you have been arrested. You were likely arrested via summons whereby the charges and a notice to appear were mailed by certified mail and regular mail to your known address. I refer to this as arrested by mail. The continuances of your case, as mentioned, is not unusual. The police do not have to read Miranda rights to you, like on TV, unless they interrogate. Not many criminal defense attorneys take payments as generally, criminal defendants are not reliable pay. However, there are some that do. Talk to as many lawyers as you can-you may find one needs business and will negotiate. Timing is everything.
Q: The police left a number for me to call and said they wanted to congratulate me for something and give me a gift. When I got there, they handcuffed me to a chair, processed me and gave me charges. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Much to the chagrin of unsuspecting Defendants out there, the police can use a degree of trickery to arrest, as long as that trickery does not violate due process and fairness. For example, they cannot use trickery to the extent that it causes someone who is not predisposed or inclined to commit a crime, to commit one. Your situation, yes, it is legal, unfortunately. Take your papers to an attorney. Perhaps you will have a defense and enjoy the last laugh.
Q: I have three old cases from 2014. I have never been in trouble since but I have three warrants. One is a drug case and two theft cases. I never went back to court because I was homeless. I met the mother of my kids, started a family. Now she kicked me out and sued me for support. I never thought about my warrants or court again. Should I?
A: It is very likely. In Allegheny County, the Sheriff Deputies run warrant checks on litigants coming to court and can take people into custody. It is best to address this issue ahead of time, preferably with the assistance of a lawyer. A lawyer can look into what is necessary in getting a bond set on your criminal cases. It could be simple, or it could be more complicated.
Q: I’ve always heard after 7 years your criminal record means less. I’m just wondering why? Thank you in advance! (West Homestead, PA)
A: You have heard wrong. There is no expiration date for most criminal records. Under the recent amendments to PA law, you can now expunge a misdemeanor 2 after 10 years of arrest free behavior and a misdemeanor 3 after 7 years of arrest free behavior. Also, summary (Disorderly Conduct, Harassment, etc.) convictions can expunged after 5 years of arrest-free living. Please remember that the arrest record remains in the system even if your case was dismissed, withdrawn or you were not found guilty.
Q: I was in a gas station last night and no one was in there, the cashier probably in the bathroom. I took an item under 5 dollars, the cameras most likely didn’t see me. Just due to the fact on how I did it. If they somehow found out or see footage what can happen? Will they press charges since it was under 5 dollars? I feel horrible for what I did since I never do anything like that but I want to know what are the steps in this case. (West Mifflin, PA)
A: If they have evidence against you, can identify you, and wish to press charges, they can charge you. You will be charged with a summary Retail Theft offense and it can be sent via the summons process, which is basically by mail. Usually it is mailed both certified mail, return receipt and regular mail. If you receive such mailing, see a lawyer immediately.
Q: Can a minor get convicted far assault and robbery because someone was robbed and gave police a description of just facial hair
A:There had to be something more than “facial hair”. The police report just cannot read, the actor is described as, “facial hair”. If what you mean is a weak description, yes, it is possible to be arrested, but those kind of cases are often beaten at trial. If the police were on the fence about arresting him, the fact that he has priors may give them reason to do so. This is not fair but it happens. I would have a lawyer review the case.