Q: I was recently involved in a traffic accident involving injury while under suspended license. I was free to leave the scene. I have received the police report and that’s it. My father received a phone call from the sheriff looking for me with a felony warrant. Why is this and what steps should I take? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Because your actions arise to felony charges in PA. To be charged with a Felony 1 in these leaving the scene of an accident cases, there needs to be serious bodily injury. The police often charge this if there is just bodily injury, because it is not known at the time they file the charges if the victim has incurred serious bodily injury or not.
3742. Accidents involving death or personal injury.
(a) General rule.–The driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person shall immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close thereto as possible but shall then forthwith return to and in every event shall remain at the scene of the accident until he has fulfilled the requirements of section 3744(relating to duty to give information and render aid). Every stop shall be made without obstructing traffic more than is necessary.
(b) Penalties. —
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, any person violating this section commits a misdemeanor of the first degree.
Also, if you are operating a motor vehicle and have an accident when you are not licensed, i.e., suspended, revoked, etc., you can be charged with a Felony 3.
Do not make statements to the police and get yourself an attorney.
Q: I had a yellow ticket non-traffic citation for a minor harassment from confronting a person. I had my background apparently checked with an employer and says I have a felon? is it possible that I am mixed up with a different person since I have a hyphenated last name?
A: If you miss a non-traffic summary hearing, it is possible you can be found guilty in absentia, of the non-traffic offense. You should have been mailed a copy of the order informing you of your conviction and your right to appeal within thirty (30) days. I don’t believe the Court, nor the officer, would have authority to amend the charge up to a Felony. If they wanted to do that, they would have to amend the charges, refile and provide you with proper notice. It is possible, for example, they cited you then later learned a gun was involved in the threat. However, I think there is some confusion here. I suggest you get a copy of the record the employer has or order a copy of your criminal history from the PA State Police.
Q: Hi. I am a felon. I’ve grown up hunting and I know I can use a crossbow. I have kids and would love to be able to teach them how I was taught when I was growing up, with a rifle. Now I know with a felony I can’t do that but was told there is ways, so wanted to ask. What do you think? (Lincoln Borough, PA)
A: If you are certain you were actually convicted of a felony, you cannot possess a firearm under PA and Federal law. You cannot expunge the felony. You may be eligible for a pardon, but it is a not an easy task. You should consult with an attorney who handles pardons in PA.
Q: I’ve always heard after 7 years your criminal record means less. I’m just wondering why? Thank you in advance! (West Homestead, PA)
A: You have heard wrong. There is no expiration date for most criminal records. Under the recent amendments to PA law, you can now expunge a misdemeanor 2 after 10 years of arrest free behavior and a misdemeanor 3 after 7 years of arrest free behavior. Also, summary (Disorderly Conduct, Harassment, etc.) convictions can expunged after 5 years of arrest-free living. Please remember that the arrest record remains in the system even if your case was dismissed, withdrawn or you were not found guilty.
Q: He has been convicted of burglary, criminal conspiracy, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property felony 2 and felon 3 and lives with his parents who have multiple guns in a safe His mother keeps one in her purse and father keeps one next to his bed. He also regularly smokes weed and recently took up drinking again. Within the last couple months, he has posted three videos to his social media of him shooting a gun. Is it legal for him to live there with the one being accessible to him. He’s about to get some custody back of his kids and have them in this home. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: If smoking weed and drinking are prohibited by the terms of his parole or probation, he is in violation of parole or probation. It is illegal to smoke marijuana, at least currently. As for the guns, as a convicted felon, he would be prohibited from possessing a gun by PA and Federal firearms statutes.
Q: She has been taking therapy classes and had an arrangement with the person she took money from prior to the cops getting involved. I’m worried because the amount was estimated $300,000 over the 7 years they could track.
A: You need to get her a lawyer to determine A) if she has a defense to all or some of the allegations (i.e., statute of limitations) and if not B) how to keep her out of jail. My thought is that it would be a felony 2 or 1 given that amount of money. As to her sentence if she has no defense and pleads guilty, it depends on many factors-hire prior record score, the position of the victim, the DA, the judge’s temperament, any mental health issues and any potential of restitution. In addition, if the victim was elderly, there are enhanced penalties in the sentencing guidelines. If there was any sort of embezzlement from a charity organization or an elderly or disabled person, the chances of jail are always greater.
Q: In 1999 when through a divorce, did not know how to accept it. I was introduced to drugs got caught. Now, after 18 years this past is haunting me. This was my first offence and only conviction.
A: It depends if you were convicted, and if you were, if it was an ungraded misdemeanor for possession or a felony for possession with intent to deliver or delivery. I would check your record to confirm what happened when you went to court in 1999.
Q: I caught a minor felony like 8 years ago. I did a few months in the county and they let me out early. Do I still have this on my record and can I pay an attorney to take it off?
A: You don’t catch a felony, like a cold or virus. There were probably some events-mainly your behavior-that led up to the charge or charges which were followed by court proceedings. First, get your criminal record from the state police to see what happened in court if you are uncertain that you were convicted of a felony. Many of my clients are unsure of what happened after they went to court. Some think nothing happened to them and they got out of it somehow when in reality they pleaded guilty and received probation. Next, there is no such thing as a minor felony. It is like saying you someone is the tallest midget in town. The person is still a midget. You are still a felon if you were in fact convicted of a felony. As a convicted felon, you are barred from possessing a firearm under PA and Federal law.