Tag Archives: Criminal Law

Any way to check if DUI charges are filed?

Q: I was detained for a DUI in April but have not received anything in the mail. Is there a possibility they sent to wrong address? Is there any way to check to see if charges have been filed? (West Mifflin, PA)

A: If you have no internet prowess or no computer, call the District Justice office located in the town in which you were stopped. You can also call the police department that stopped you. You can also hire an attorney to inquire. If the address you gave the police when you were stopped has changed, you may have missed your mail which is no defense legally. If you missed a court date, hire a lawyer to arrange to turn you in and set bond.

If not arrested how can the police take my gun?

Q I was at a dollar store and another guy was very belligerent and racist and  got into my face. I ended up walking away after a small argument. I have a broken wrist and have a titanium plate in my head and have seizures. I was at my car putting groceries in with one hand he came out of the store and was more belligerent and continued to be belligerent. He walked up to my car as close as 5 feet. I put my firearm at my side and he still did not see it. I just put one hand out and told him to go ahead and go about his business. Once he seen my other arm stop moving he kind of looked down and I had it at my side just for my protection because he was at my car and he was a little irate a little out of his mind. He run away. Everything was on camera he chased my car I pulled over at another store and ask them to call the police which they told me I need a manager first. My PTSD was kicking in if I like fight or flight so I back my car back up to the store while I knew a manager and I called the police myself but when the police came they were more focused on me. They took my firearm and gave me no paperwork. (Shenandoah, PA)

A: The police may be assessing the entire situation to determine if you should be charged or looking into your background. Based on what you describe, you were defending yourself and the other guy was clearly the aggressor. However, you have no idea what the other person told the police. You stated that you suffer from seizures and have PTSD. If you have ever been adjudicated as an incompetent or have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution under the PA Mental Health Procedures Act, you may be prohibited from possessing a firearm in PA. I would wait a week or so then call the police and ask if they intend on charging you. If they are not going to file charges, ask for return of your firearm. If they will not do it, hire a lawyer to file a motion to return property with the Criminal Court Motions Judge in your county.

Can my roommate put video surveillance cameras in our house?

Q: I live in a four-bedroom house with three other roommates. Since they have moved in they have been a nightmare to live with. They moved all the furniture out and since that point in time installed security cameras in both the living room and kitchen. The cameras record video and audio. Is it legal for them to do this in the state of Pennsylvania? Is this a violation of wiretapping laws? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: You should consider moving out and certainly bring this to the attention of the landlord. Audio taping without your consent is a definite violation of PA wiretap laws. However, if the cameras are in plain view I do not think the video violates PA wiretap laws.

I wrecked my car and my son’s drugs were in it which I didn’t know

Q: I was driving and ran off the road. No property damage. My granddaughter was in the back seat. No injuries. Drugs and paraphernalia that was not mine was in the car and I didn’t know about it until the police stuck it in my face. I own the car, but my son drives it all the time. What kind of charges and outcome am I looking at? How do I prove they were not my drugs? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: If you are guilty or plan on pleading guilty, to determine what your sentence would be depends on several factors such as the type and quantity of drugs and your prior criminal record. If you have no record or a minimal criminal record and the drugs are consistent with personal use, marijuana or even heroin, you could be looking at probation. If they found several pounds of packaged heroin in your car, that is another matter. Also important is where the drugs were found in the car. The Commonwealth would have the burden to prove a theory of constructive possession beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you. These cases are very fact specific. If all the facts in their totality indicate that you may not have been in possession of the drugs and they may have belonged to someone else, you may have a defense. Only a skilled criminal defense attorney would know so I suggest you consult with one.

How do I go about handling a fleeing and eluding charge?

Q: I was joyriding with some of a few old friends and state troopers had flashed their lights, but I didn’t see them until they were behind me completely. Once I had announced to everyone in the car that they were behind us, the friend in the passenger passed back a black hat which unbeknown to me, had a gun in there. So eventually I see an exit ramp and try to come off, but I was going too fast and lost control of the car and crashed. Now I’m and being charged with fleeing or eluding an officer, firearm not to be carried w/o license (no crim-violence) and reckless endangering another person. (Butler County, PA)

A: Lawyer up, immediately! Gun cases (Uniform Firearms Act) are taken seriously by the DA and not often bargained down. There is always reasonable doubt for an attorney to work with when there is a gun or drugs found in a car with multiple occupants. You need a good attorney to develop that “black hat” defense. It will be easier for everyone in the car if someone admits to possessing the gun. A good attorney may be able to spin the fleeing and eluding into a summary traffic offense like reckless driving or careless, but it will be a challenge. You need to hire a private attorney or sign up with the PD, now.

Does citation for Disorderly Conduct and Endangering stay on your record?

Q: I got two citations in the mail for disorderly conduct and endangering others and myself I got a citation for $400. Is it better for me to pay the citation or fight it? Will itgo on my record permanently and my background checks I get to work? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Of course, it will! If you plead guilty and send in the money by mail, it will register as a conviction of a PA Summary Non-Traffic offense, which will show on your record. Under the expungement statute you can file paperwork to remove the convictions after five years of arrest-free behavior. Under the new PA Clean Slate Act, perhaps the government will remove the convictions but there is uncertainty as to when. If you are a first timer in court, an attorney may be able to have these dismissed, or at a minimum waive them to the Court of Common Pleas and enter the ARD program for first offenders. You will not have a conviction and your record will be expunged if you complete ARD. I would plead not guilty and speak with a private attorney or public defender asap. Additionally, I am unaware of an ‘endangering” charge that is a summary offense. Recklessly Endangering Another Person is a misdemeanor or felony-more reason to see an attorney, now.

Do I have any legal obligation to report this massage incident?

Q: I went for massage because I was having a lot of back pain. I could not get an appointment at my regular spot. I called around and found a place with decent google reviews. They told me to come in at 3. When I arrived, everything was normal. For a while. I got down to my boxers which I thought was standard. The woman came back and told me to lose the boxers because she doesn’t want the lotion to get on them. So, I did, feeling very uncomfortable but I rolled with it. She then asked me roll over and worked on my legs. She asked me if I wanted something more. I laughed and said “how much” she responded no charge and she tried reaching for my you know what. I screamed at the top of my lungs, No! I jumped off the table. She told me calm down. She then said let’s finish the massage no more funny business. So, I did the rest of the massage was fine. She let me put my boxers on everything was fine after that. I’ll not return. But do need to report this? Or am in anyway will I get in trouble for this? All over the inside of this massage place it had warning signs reading “ this is a professional business do not ask for sex favors”. At no point was I “turned on” or did her hands acutely touch my area. (Moon Twp., PA)

A: Hmmmm. If there is something more to the story than you are sharing, I suggest that you consult with a criminal defense attorney. If this is the whole story, you probably need not worry about being arrested. I would let go of this and not call the police. However, if you do, you must be aware that you may end up as a defendant, a government witness or on the Six O’clock News. You have no moral duty to report this. A legal duty to report a crime? Maybe, but probably not.

What should I do if my autistic son was arrested for retail theft?

Q: My 16-year-old autistic son went to a store last week by himself. He was arrested for stealing $5.53 worth of donuts and candy. He was cuffed and taken to a police station to be fingerprinted and all without me. When I got there, I was not able to go in the center. My son came out and they gave me a citation. He now has a plea hearing on April 29th. Do we need a lawyer? Can charges be dropped since he is autistic? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: If they questioned him, they should have called you first for consent. The charges could potentially be dropped whether or not he has an attorney, given his age and it is presumed to be his first offense. You will have a better chance of accomplishing this result with a lawyer.

Is it illegal if her boyfriend sleeps in the same bed as her children?

Q: A mom who has 2 minor children, ages four and seven. She has her boyfriend living with her and the children. He is sleeping in the same bed with the mom and children. And I will add, this “boyfriend ” drinks every day in front of the children,. A recent accident happened while the two children were in the supervision of the boyfriend. The 7-yearold child fell ten to twelve feet and broke his arm. Child protection is now involved, because of the above. But I would like to know the law as to whether a stranger can sleep in a bed with the mom and the children. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: I am assuming this is not the biological father. I know of no such law. However, it doesn’t sound right by any means. I have represented pedophiles in the past who have targeted women to date with young children then involve themselves in inappropriate activities with the children such as napping together, “snuggling” on the couch and excessive tickling. I’d be concerned enough that I would tell her it has got to stop and if she does not acknowledge it is wrong, report it to CYF.