Q: My son was in the vehicle and never got out of the vehicle when an acquaintance broke into a home to steal marijuana the homeowner was home and shot the kid in the leg my son hopped in the driver’s seat of the perpetrators car and drove him out of there was immediately arrested and has been incarcerated since December they are taking it to trial my son has no representation and is facing some Hefty charges. (West Mifflin, PA)
A: Even without a prior record, these charges could result in a jail sentence. I’ve had similar cases and the facts are different in every case, so you cannot necessarily say he will get jail or he will not get jail. Working against you is that it is likely believed that your son was involved and not merely present at the scene by some misfortune. In one of my cases, the kids broke into a local pot grower’s home, hit him with a bat, broke his arm, rolled him up in a carpet and were running out the door with marijuana plants when the police arrived. My client was hiding under the cellar steps when the police arrived. He wouldn’t come out, so they let a German Shepard loose on him. By the time of trial, the co-conspirator that was to testify against all the defendants OD’d and died and because the victim was as drug dealer and less sympathetic in the eyes of law enforcement, the DA and cops allowed my client to plead to receive probation. I think the police also went a little easy on my client because he was pretty chewed up by the dog. (lacerations, stitches, nerve damage, etc.) The point is that every case is different. Perhaps your son’s attorney can distance your son from the other guy and perhaps the police and DA do not like the alleged victim if he is a known drug user or dealer. Your son is no doubt young and has no criminal record, which will work in his favor. He needs an attorney whether private or public.
Q: How influential is your lawyer supposed to be in negotiating with the Prosecutor. 19 yr old son getting charged with a four felony 1 burglaries, which were dropped to two felony 2 burglary charges. How do we know if our appointed lawyer is really doing the best? Are they the ones that are supposed to be negotiating with the prosecutor or do they have no say in it as our son tells us?
A: Any lawyer, PD, or court appointed attorney, has equal standing in court. Each has the role of being able to negotiate freely with the DA for plea agreements. You need to talk to the lawyer. Open communication has to occur. I can’t advise you because I don’t know all the facts. Maybe the attorney is telling you that the deal he is getting is the best he can do. If you are not content with the deal he has struck with the DA, you have some limited, one of which is to fire him and hire a private counsel. I suggest that you talk to your son’s lawyer.
Q: My son was convicted of burglary with 2 others and their restitution is combined. Is there a way to get it separated? It is understandable that they should pay all restitution. I have no problem with that. With the combined restitution there is no incentive to pay more on the fine and get it paid off, if the other 2 just pay the minimum. Is there a way to modify this, so he can get his paid off, and if one of the others dies, he can then again be held liable along with the other remaining person. With this being as is, my son is not serving a 2 to 8 sentence he received. It is more or less a life sentence. Just seems to me the system is set up to make you fail, instead of doing your sentence and fulfill your obligations to society. Would be nice to get something like this amended so he can try to move forward. Any advice would be appreciated thank you.
A: Restitution, if not paid at sentencing and apportioned between the defendants, in most counties is ordered to be paid jointly and severally with other co-defendants to maximize the chance of it actually getting paid. Joint and several means they are all responsible to pay the full amount to the extent it remains unpaid by the other participants. The victim is likely out property or had to pay to have his or her building or structure repaired. The victim also may have loss more than just property, like his or her sense of security and safety. Thus, judges are unlikely to divide up restitution between the participants because the victim might not get paid in that situation. Too much time has passed to have an attorney file a written motion to modify sentence. The only way in my opinion that a restitution order could be changed would be by agreement of the victim and the DA. I don’t know the facts here, anything is possible. This would generally be difficult to accomplish. So, for now, your son should do his best to pay the restitution to help make the victim whole and avoid a parole violation.