Q: My fiance very stupidly went to buy a shotgun at Walmart and checked the “no” box for having prior felonies. He has prior felonies, including weapons charges. They just called him yesterday and pressing charges for a felony offense of Sale of Transfer of firearms under 18 Pa.C.S.A § 6111(g)(4)(ii) for “knowingly and intentionally” making a background check materially false written statement in connection with the purchase, delivery, or transfer of a firearm. Making a false statement includes completion of the gun application form. The other charge is a misdemeanor offense of Unsworn Falsification to Authorities and he had his arraignment today. His preliminary is going to be on March 15th. What can I expect? I am pretty sure it will go to trial, but will I get lucky and him not get jail time? A: Sometimes I get these cases withdrawn at the Preliminary Hearing where the person is otherwise a good citizen, has one criminal case in their history and it is believable that that they were unaware that the past crime carried a term of incarceration of more than one year. Other times the police officer and/or the DA are not so generous. The wording of the form that one must sign when purchasing a firearm, in my opinion, contains insufficient notice and is confusing to those untrained in the law. However, your fiance is well-aware of his prior four felonies and his actions are more difficult to explain. Does he have brain damage or is he incompetent? Is he illiterate and couldn’t read the form? I say this seriously as mental health and cognitive problems are the plague of many violators of the law. As for him going to jail, with four felony convictions, the sentencing guidelines will call for incarceration. However, due it being a non-violent offense, and the confusion of the ill-written form, I can usually keep people out of jail. You should have a lawyer review the entire case before you give up on it.
Q: I have a domestic simple assault from Arnold, PA. I live in Oil City, PA now. Can get a handgun if this happened in 1995? I have not had any arrest or anything sense and never been in any other trouble in my life all but that one time. I want to get a hand gun for hunting but need to get past the background check and this simple assault is kind of holding me up. (Oil City, PA)
A: If you were convicted, unless your simple assault was a mutual combat M3, you cannot get a license to carry nor can you own or possess guns. I would check to see if you were actually convicted by obtaining your criminal history from the PA State Police. If you were not convicted, the arrest record will be on file and may prevent a permit being issued to you or a gun being sold to you. If you were not convicted, you can expunge the arrest record and should have no problem obtaining a carry permit.
Q: My son (21) just got DUI. He is a college student preparing to be teacher. This is his first offense ever. He has to fill out a teaching clearance. The Arrest Report form asks about reportable offenses. The DUI just happened, and we don’t have police report yet – not sure what actual charges will be. Since this is his first offence, how horrible will this be? How will it affect his chances to become a teacher? Someone mentioned ARD. He’s devastated. What should he say on the arrest certification form? (Kennedy Township, PA)
A: He will most likely be offered ARD. With ARD he will never have to say he was convicted as there is no adjudication. If asked if he was arrested, he would have to say yes. If asked if he was ever convicted of a crime he can answer no-as long as he successfully completes ARD. If questioned further, he would say he was admitted to the ARD program. After completion of ARD, his arrest record will be expunged, at least in Allegheny County.
Q: Is there any way to erase my criminal record or keep it as lowest profile. It could be for a better future? I had made some bad judgments and wanted a better life for my family. Is there anyone that can help? There are 2 convictions that are ruining my life right now and I’m trying my best to move on with my life but it feels like everywhere I go is blocking my path. If there is anyone who can help please feel free to contact me. Thank you.
A: You can only “erase” prior criminal arrest records for felonies and misdemeanors which you were not found guilty of or pleaded guilty to. You can expunge summary convictions after five years of arrest free behavior has passed. You should obtain your criminal history to determine what it consists of. There may be crimes which you were arrested for but not found guilty of or pleaded guilty to. The arrest record related to those charges may be expunged. Plus, you may have summary convictions and if five years has elapsed, you can expunge them. A good starting point is your criminal history from the PA State Police. If you have trouble obtaining it or understanding it, contact an attorney.