Q: I had a summary trial court date. The judge was confusing. And somewhat of a jerk. After I explained to him it was accident, he was having none of it. He said you can either plead guilty or I’ll find you guilty. I said, “either way you are screwing me”. On the form I got from the clerk it says I pleaded guilty. I don’t know why I’d show up to court just to plead guilty. Did not even notice until I was home. Can I still appeal? Or should I? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: You can file a summary appeal if you are found guilty or if you plead guilty. It doesn’t matter. You need to go to the Allegheny County Clerk of Courts, fill out the Summary Appeal form and pay the filing fee which is around $100. As you hopefully have learned, the case will go better if you have a lawyer. Your next hearing will be in front of a Court of Common Pleas judge and the you will be treated better, but you need to be prepared.
Q: I pleaded guilty because I was promised Drug Court. The deal exploded and the DA refused to agree but I entered the plea anyway as I was nervous and my attorney was little help. Can the Judge deny my right to withdraw my plea? I have not been sentenced yet and have no idea what my sentence will be and don’t trust anyone. Is there a civil rights violation here?
A: You can file a petition to withdraw your plea at any time prior to sentencing. You must file a written motion making the request. The decision is entirely in the judge’s discretion. Usually such requests are granted. Be aware however, that now you will face trial unless you can negotiate a deal with the DA that is acceptable to you. I do not see a civil rights violation here.
Q: Should I plead guilty or not guilty to public urination? I received a citation for public urination while very intoxicated in Pittsburgh, PA. I refused to sign the citation and would not give them my SSN. I started arguing with the cop but ultimately still got home with only a citation. What should I plea?
A: You should not plead guilty by checking the box on the reverse side of the subpoena and sending your money in. If you don’t have a criminal record, an attorney may help to get you out of this with no record. If not, a summary conviction will result in a criminal record and cannot be expunged until you have completed 5 years of arrest free behavior.
Q: While in a rehabilitation hospital, my father was getting taken care of by a young 29 something girl. After he left there, she managed to get his address and phone number. She has been to the house and calls him every day. This has been going on for seven months now. My mother has passed away so we moved my father to an assisted living facility 4 hours away from this girl. He is telling my sister and I that he loves her and is in love. She has got him convinced that he needs to go back to his house. There is money and property missing from the house and he keeps telling us that she is his friend. We are just so afraid that she is taking advantage of him but we don’t know what to do. He cannot live in the house alone. Any advice or direction would be go greatly appreciated
A: If he is mentally clear, there is little you can do except this. If you are sure money is missing, you can see if a police officer will take a report and at least talk to this girl. Not all police departments will do this, but some will. This may shake her up a bit. Dad should have a Power of Attorney at this point in his life so you need to talk to him and see if you can get him to a local attorney in order to address this. If you or someone in the family can serve as his Agent on a POA, you can file the POA with all the financial institutions where he has money on deposit and inform them to notify the Agent if any large or suspicious withdrawals are attempted. If your father is not clear headed and you cannot get him to sign a POA, then your only option besides letting this girl know she is being watched and hoping she will get the message and go away is to file for a Guardianship of your father in court. This is somewhat expensive and requires the assistance of a lawyer. I would sit down with a lawyer and discuss all of the facts before you decide what to do.