Q: Can I go to jail because I cannot take off work to go to a civil hearing at a magistrate? I’m being taken to court by a creditor (credit card company)? (White Oak, PA)
A: The short answer is no. Generally, civil court has no jurisdiction to incarcerate people. Only in rare circumstances such as when a person is found in contempt or in family court matters involving failure to pay child support. What will happen is that since you do not appear, and have made no effort to continue the case, a hearing will go forward without you and you will be found guilty in absentia. The creditor will ask for and receive the judgment, any interest owed, plus costs and lawyers fee. You might want to call the creditor and the judge and ask for a continuance.
Q: I got a first-time offense DUI and was accepted into the ARD program. I haven’t paid off my fines and I still need to take one class. I have one month to my court date. If I pay off the rest of my fines and complete the class before I go to court can I possibly not get my ARD revoked? Should I contact my PO tomorrow to see if they have any advice, or is it too late to call them? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Yes, in Allegheny County, all is not lost, especially if you have a month to get it together. You need to be proactive and get everything done. Call your PO immediately and give him your spin on your recent financial difficulties. If you pay and complete your class before the hearing, and the PO still wants to go through with the hearing, you should probably take a lawyer to court. You don’t want to have your ARD revoked because it is a one-time deal and will prevent you from having a record.
Q: 71-mph in a 45-mph zone. There is no information on the citation regarding any speed timing device that was used to calculate my speed.
A: You can always fight a traffic ticket. The issue is whether it is worth the time, effort and money balanced against your chance of winning. A lawyer would need to know more facts to give a thorough opinion, so I suggest you consult with one. My question is, if you were only cited with failure to obey a traffic control device, (red light, yield sign, whatever) which carries no points or license suspension and a small fine, why would you fight it? If you truly believe you are innocent, have a good driving record and some sort of plausible defense, plead not guilty, go to the hearing and tell your side of the story to the judge.