Someone used my name

Q: How do how do I get a ticket out of my name for driving without a license if I never had a license? I wasn’t driving and didn’t do this. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: It sounds like you may have a defense. Unfortunately, you will need to appear in court and present it. I would consult with an attorney. It is unlikely that the perpetrator had the same identical car as you, looked the same as you, etc. Cross-examination of the officer by an attorney can establish mistaken identity. Also, you can raise an alibi witness defense if you can prove you were elsewhere at the date and time of the alleged caper.

Can police officer message me from his personal Facebook account?

Q: I was charged with some serious felonies, burglary being the worst of the 11 felonies. The cop has been messaging me on Facebook from his personal account saying that he’s all for God given second chances as long as someone who does the right thing and saying it’ll all pay off for me. So now it’s getting closer to the trial date and he acts as if he never said it. That’s the whole reason why I wasn’t bringing my evidence to the table completely. But now he hasn’t spoken of the two remarks he messaged me on my Facebook from his personal account. It’s almost like he told me that he’s all for giving second chances, so I wouldn’t try to prove my innocence so hard and assume that he was going to help with charges. Can he do that? Can he message me from his personal account on Facebook and say he’s all for giving second chances and then completely fall through on everything? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: I know of no law which prevents a police officer from doing so if it is related to police work. Police are permitted to use trickery and deception to entice people to admit to criminal activity. It is only when such behavior crosses the line so as it induces someone not normally inclined to commit a particular crime at a particular moment, the entrapment defense can be raised. I would need to know more so I strongly encourage you to discuss this with your attorney

I have a preliminary hearing and have not been arrested or arraigned

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.

What kind of trouble am I facing?

Q: I placed a recording device in my ex’s house. I never used it or recorded anything, but they found it and reported it to the police. I was charged with three counts of a felony of the 3rd degree. (Robinson Township, PA)

A: You need to hire a criminal defense attorney immediately. Only speak with him or her, do not make statements about this case to your ex, police, or anyone else. You may have a defense if no recording was actually done. Unless this recording device was placed in the bathroom, the case may be more like a trespassing issue and given the emotions involved with a domestic situation, the case may work itself out. Do not have any contact whatsoever with your ex. Perhaps some counseling before the hearing might benefit you and the situation, but follow the advice of your attorney.

If someone has a record from another state will they get more time here?

Q: If someone has a criminal record that includes possession of substances in another state but then incurs the charges below in Pennsylvania will they be able to avoid jail time with a public defender? The person in question does have a valid diagnosis and prescription for the pain killers on hand. Does this seem like definite jail time or could a public defender offer a plea without jail time? Should a private attorney be retained for something like this?  Here is the list of charges recently incurred:  1 35 § 780-113 §§ A16 M Int Poss Contr Subst By Per Not Reg  2 35 § 780-113 §§ A31I M Marijuana-Small Amt Personal Use  3 35 § 780-113 §§ A32 M Use/Poss Of Drug Paraph  4 75 § 3802 §§ D2* M DUI: Controlled Substance – Impaired Ability – 1st  Offense  5 75 § 3301 §§ A S Fail To Keep Right

(Acme, PA)

A: No one can answer this question with any precision as much more information is needed. For example, whether there are any defenses, what the sentencing guidelines are, the position of the police and the DA. As far as a general prognosis, having prior possession of controlled substance charges and new DUI and drug charges, which according to you, are misdemeanors, this person most likely is not looking at any serious jail time. If handled correctly, this person could receive a probation sentence which will address drug counselling and rehabilitation with a negotiated plea. The prior out of state conviction will count toward his or her prior record score. The county DA will examine the other state prior charges and weigh them in accordance with the most similarly graded PA crimes in arriving at a prior record score. If the person is out on bond, it is important that they are involved in treatment and stay in treatment before they go to court.

How does pleading not guilty by mental illness or defect work?

Q: If my boyfriend was having a schizophrenic episode and did cocaine because he currently thought he was the president and was around a really bad influence. We were able to get him help but he was on probation and missed his scheduled group meeting They urine sampled him now he isn’t sure if he did cocaine or not but he does take Adderall which in the urine test would come up the same as cocaine. I’m having it analyzed to see if its cocaine or Adderall now if it is cocaine. He didn’t really understand what he was doing. Is pleading not guilty by reasons of mental disease or defect a possibility?  (South Park, PA)

A: If your boyfriend had a big tumor on his neck, would you try to diagnose it yourself and perhaps look up information on WebMD and then operate on him in your kitchen? If your friend has such serious mental health issues and is being prosecuted, he needs way more help than you can offer. He needs an experienced criminal defense attorney and he needs to be treating with a mental health professional. PA defines terms such as mental illness and guilty but mentally ill in Rule 314. PA follows the McNaughton Rule which basically means that your friend must be laboring under such delusion that he doesn’t understand what he is doing or the results of his actions. An insanity defense is generally a very difficult standard to reach or prove from the defense. However, his mental illness at a minimum may be mitigating factors to use in attempting to circumvent prosecution or obtain a diversionary program. Again, get him to a lawyer and if he cannot afford one, sign up for the Public Defender.