Can I be charged two times for the same misdemeanor?

Q: I had a detainer for my probation. I got arrested. I paid my fines and they let me out. My probation officer told me that the case was closed. I got stopped by police and they arrested me for a warrant but it’s the same docket number. It is the same case. I told the police that and they told me to tell it to the judge. What should I do? (Beechview, Pgh., PA)

A: I am not sure what happened to you and would need to look at the docket and paperwork before reaching any conclusions. However, you can be arrested twice for the same offense but never prosecuted and convicted of the same offense. Mistakes happen and sometimes people are picked up on warrants that have been cleared or quashed. However, if charges are filed on an incident which you have already been adjudicated on (found guilty or dismissed by a court, after a hearing) that constitutes double jeopardy under PA Rule of Criminal Procedure 109 and 110.

If I plead not-guilty to summary offense can they add charges?

Q: I got pulled over the other night, I had just left work and before even asking me for my license and insurance he told me to get out of the car. They then searched my car for 45 minutes without my permission and without asking me. They then claim to find money with drug residue on it and are now trying to give me a paraphernalia charge. I’m afraid that if I plead not guilty they’re going to figure out a way of proving there is drug residue on the money. Therefore. I don’t want to be charged with possession because I did not plead guilty to the paraphernalia. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: I would need to know more and therefore advise you to hire an attorney to review the complaint and get more details on the facts. It sounds like you are charged with summary offenses now, but you are wondering if a potential misdemeanor for paraphernalia or possession may be filed? It is possible. The Commonwealth can amend the charges almost at any time before an adjudication occurs. If you are found guilty of the summaries and they later attempt to charge you with the misdemeanors, and the new charges arise from the same event, you may have a double jeopardy argument under PA Rules of Criminal Procedure 109 and 110. However, if you have no criminal record, you may not want to plead to these summaries as they will stay on your record for 5 years until you can expunge them. There are a few issues here for which I think you need counsel.


If a minor’s case gets tossed in district court can they still charge in juvenile court?

Q: My 17-year-old son pulled over 12:46am for having a break light out. Cop said he didn’t have insurance, but I did, it’s my car, His mom I just bought it 10 days prior and just didn’t get around to dropping old and adding new car with our insurance agent. They searched car found small amount weed, a bong, papers and e-cigarette devices. Now, I get 2 fines for district court no brake lights no insurance, but it’s addressed to the defendant with my first name and my son’s last name. The cop wrote it this way on the ticket, so I am fighting the ticket. If they drop these tickets can it go to juvenile court? Since the district dropped I don’t understand why 2 different courts are charging with the same offenses. (Duquesne, PA)

A: Your question is a bit confusing. It really depends on who is charged in each action. If you are charged on the Motor Vehicle traffic summaries, and your son is subsequently charged in juvenile court for the reefer, then that is permissible under the rules. However, if your son is charged with Motor Vehicle summaries, enters a plea of guilty, or is found guilty or not guilty, an adjudication occurs. The police cannot then charge him again for drug offenses arising out of the same set of facts. There are Rules 109 and 110 of the PA Rules of Criminal Procedure that address this. It is basically a double jeopardy situation. I would consult with a lawyer for a precise answer as I am not looking at your charges and am not sure I have all the facts

How can the court change my DUI to a 3rd offense?

Q: I was charged with DUI and my lawyer wanted to challenge the stop because the cop has a reputation of pulling people over on “hunches”. (the judge ruled the stop was legal). All my paperwork says that I am being charged with DUI 1st offense. Now, 10 months later the court changed my charge from dui 1st offense to DUI 3rd offense. I only found out about this because I looked up my court status online at the clerk of courts. How does the court get an elementary school “do over” when this thing went on for months as a 1st offense?

A: I would need more information to give you a specific answer. However, it sounds like the DA just discovered your prior two DUI’s. They can amend the information when they receive new evidence. This can happen especially if the prior convictions were out of state. Your counsel can object to an amendment of the Criminal Information (charges). However, I don’t know if that would be a valid defense if a jury has not been sworn in and double jeopardy has attached. I believe the Commonwealth can amend their Criminal Information (charges) upon discovering new information. You either have two priors or you don’t have two priors.