Q: This is in the state of PA for a criminal case. I was caught in PA for a DUI, which I am contesting and handling myself until I can find suitable counsel. I left my Formal Arraignment the other day with a paper saying I had a time deadline to file the Omnibus Motion. I need to get my lab results to a lab because I suspect they will be tampered with. I also want all the evidence against me. (Sharpsburg, MD)
A: Allegheny County and many other counties, do not strictly enforce the 30-day rule. To preclude further discovery based on a technical time limit would be a denial of due process, so most courts do not enforce the rule. The point is for the defense to not wait until too close to trial to file discovery motions as this may cause the defense to continue the case, or even be precluded if the court feels the defense is intentionally stalling. Get your discovery motion in as soon as you can. Normally, you need to review the DA’s discovery first. I suggest hiring a lawyer to represent you.
Q: I filed a motion to substitute counsel and the following day the Commonwealth filed a notice of defendant’s crimen falsi convictions. I don’t know what that means and I just put a motion in to get a new attorney because my attorney misled and lied to me the whole time and I put all that in my motion. I’m confused too what this means. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Crimen Falsi is a Latin word for crimes of falsity, or crimes indicating dishonesty. Apparently, the Commonwealth is positioning itself for a trial with you. They are giving you advanced notice that they will introduce portions of your criminal history which constitute “crimen falsi”, if you choose to testify. These types of crimes are theft, burglary, fraud, receiving stolen property, bad checks, etc. By taking the stand you are putting your credibility at issue. Under the rules of evidence, the Commonwealth has the right to impeach your credibility with past convictions of crimes which demonstrate your past dishonesty, and therefore lack of credibility. When you receive the Notice of Crimen Falsi, you will have the right under the rules to file an objection to it in its entirety or any portion of it. For example, if one of the crimes is a retail theft for a pack of gum 20 years ago when you were 18 years old, you can object to that particular past conviction being stale. You need to research the rules of evidence on this. You should have a lawyer and not try to litigate this yourself because you may end up in jail. Would you perform minor surgery on yourself?
Q: My husband has been arrested for 180 days. Is he entitled for release on nominal bail? It is not a capital case. However he filed omnibus pretrial motion about 2 months ago. His lawyer refused to file the motion for nominal bail. (Glassport, PA)
A:Normally, one cannot be held in jail awaiting charges for more than 180 days, pursuant to Rule 600 of the PA Rules of Criminal Procedure. This rule reflects that Constitutional right to a speedy trial. This is of course, if there are no other legalities that act as a hold or detainer on holding your husband in jail. These other legalities could be things like a probation detainer or family division support warrant. Also, if there were any time delays that were attributable to him or his attorney such as continuance that time would extend the 180 days. For example, if your husband postponed his Preliminary Hearing for 30 days, that 30 days would be added on to the 180 days. These questions should be directed to his lawyer.