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.
Q: A friend and I got into a fight two months ago in a private bar we go to. He runs from the police, he gets caught. I got to a house on the corner and got patched up. I NEVER even seen a cop that night or speak to any. I think the bar gave my information. (McKees Rocks, PA)
A: Yes, police can file charges based upon “information received”, and they do it all the time. The witness from whom the information came from will need to be present in court to testify for the police to make a case. I would discuss this with a lawyer.
Q: I have two summary charges from 2006 for Retail Theft and Disorderly Conduct. Would I be able to have those charges sealed from employers if I got another summery conviction in 2016?
A: Summary non-traffic offenses can be expunged if five years of arrest-free behavior has passed. Based on what you are saying here, it sounds like the 2006 offenses could be expunged. The process takes at least 6 months, often more, to have the records disappear. If they are Allegheny County charges, I would hire a lawyer to get started now. (Pittsburgh, PA)
Q: I was charged with open lewdness and disorderly conduct. My husband and I got into a fight right after I got out of the bath. He dragged me out of the house I had no clothes on but from observer’s point of view it looked like I ran outside totally naked. The neighbor’s teenagers were outside by their cars (smoking pot) but I am sure they have seen a nude woman before. How am I being charged if I did not purposely go out naked and it was against my will? Why is he not being charged?
A: If you explained this to police at the scene, and the way you present this is what actually happened, I have no idea why he was not charged. I would get a lawyer to represent you as this can be defended or it has a good chance of being withdrawn at the Preliminary Hearing.
Q: How should I plead on a disorderly conduct charge (PA 18 5503 A1)?I was at a bar and some friends and I were in the process of leaving. A guy that was outside getting into his friends car started heckling us. As they started to drive away the man rolled down the window and continued (he was clearly drunk). I yelled back which prompted him to jump out of the car and attack me. While I did throw the first punch, he came at me with what I assumed to be an intent to harm. He grabbed me by the collar and there was pushing back and forth before I hit him. His friend then got out of the car and joined in the fight as well. Cops showed up and saw them attacking me and arrested them. I explained it was self defense and they said I could go. About a week later I received a Summary charge for Disorderly Conduct. How should I plead? What can I expect in either case? I should also add I have no record or any prior convictions of anything besides traffic violations.
A:Plead not guilty and hire an attorney for the hearing. If you get convicted for a DC summary, it will stay on your record for 5 years assuming you get in no further trouble in that 5 year period. It sounds like you have enough for any experienced criminal defense attorney to employ self defense as a total defense . The police may have cited you as a way to get you to come to court to be there witness. An attorney can talk to them for you and figure this all out.
Q: A student is in a school cafeteria and told to sit down at three different occasions and the principal threatening him by saying if he didn’t sit that he would suspend him and get the school police involved which he did. Now the parents have to go to court because he pleaded not guilty. Not only that he was not fighting at any time and still got ex-spelled for 3 days at the end of the day. Now I have a citation for a fine of $294.00.
A: That is what schools sometimes do these days with all the children they perceive as behavior problems. They make it a police matter. You need to go to the hearing and defend it. You can be fined as you are his guardian. I would consult with a lawyer. Perhaps he can successfully challenge the charges at the hearing or at least push the school back to where it offer a deal where, if there is no bad behavior for 90 days, the charge will be dismissed. Consult with a criminal defense attorney.
Q: Can a Pennsylvania police officer send out a disorderly conduct citation without giving you something at the time of the incident? The police were called for “shots fired” while we were out shooting guns. They couldn’t get us for anything like drugs or beer so they said we’d get disorderly conduct charges in the mail. We never received anything that day. Can they send the charges to us?
A: Yes, citations and summons for court hearings can be mailed. I would make sure to check your mail. If you are charged with a summary offense, you will receive a Notice of Summary Trial. If you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you will receive a Notice of Preliminary Hearing, Notice of Preliminary Arraignment and Notice of Fingerprinting. I would take the paperwork to an attorney once you receive them. The way you describe this, it might even be a stretch to convict you of a municipal ordinance for discharging guns unless you admitted to it.
Q: I’m going to court in a month for a prostitution charge, first offense misdemeanor 3.Chances of jail? I got in trouble 8 years ago, completely unrelated to prostitution. My only record , plead down to criminal mischief . I recently got busted for my first offense prostitution charge . I had put up an ad on an escort website . I never mentioned ANY acts in any ad, or email . I was detained and searched (nobody told me why I was being searched or what for) without being read Miranda rights. I never agreed to specific acts, I told the undercover the money was for my TIME and I never touched the money. And, nothing was found in my home; no drugs, no adult products, nothing. What are the chances of jail time and pleading down to a disorderly for my record because i cannot have the P word on my record?
A:You need to hire a lawyer to discuss all of the details-your version and what the police report says. In our county, prostitution charges generally lead to probation, unless there is a significant criminal history, which you say you don’t have. If you were my client I would first look how strong your defense is in order to gauge the chances of obtaining a not-guilty verdict and just as importantly to be used as a bargaining tool with the DA to push them ot withdraw or reduce the charges. If it was not possible to win the case, I would try to have the charges withdrawn in exchange for your completing counseling. My next plan would be to have the case worked out to a summary level offense such as a Disorderly Conduct, which you can expunge five years from now if you are not arrested again. By the way, Miranda warnings do not have to be read unless you are interrogated.
Q. I am charged with Disorderly conduct- Engaged in a fight “Summary Offense”? I have court this week. I’m just wondering what to expect. Will I go to jail or will I pay a fine? I am a minor and I plead guilty.
A. You can get 90 days in jail for a summary, but most people don’t. Usually only vagrants, the homeless or frequent flyers get jail time on summaries. Your fine will be anywhere up to $300 plus costs. A lawyer may be able to improve your situation. There may be other options such as a withdrawal of the charges. If you are convicted of a summary offense, it stays on your criminal record for 5 years. At that time, you need to pay an attorney to expunge your record.
Q: If I am arrested for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct, can I fight it? I was on private property, was not read Miranda rights.
A: Miranda warnings do not apply if you were not interrogated. Yes, you can fight the case. You should talk to an attorney as there may be an alternative available for you. If you fight the case, hire a court reporter to record the testimony if it is not electronically recorded by the court. Generally, you cannot be convicted of public intoxication if the conduct was not done in public. If your actions on the private property were visible to the public, or audible to the public, then that is another story.