Q: On Monday, November 4th , on my way home from work, I entered a traffic circle and was immediately blinded by oncoming headlights. I felt a very slight bump and felt I may have bumped a reflector pole in the circle. At home, I checked the car and there was a scratch on my right front fender. That evening an officer arrives to let me know I bumped another car and he needed my insurance, license and registration to share with the other driver. Tuesday the officer calls to tell me I need to come in for fingerprinting due to a hit and run charge! It was a minor hit and run charges with little damage and no injury! Can it be dismissed. How would I try to do that? (Mt. Pleasant, PA)
A: Try to get an experienced criminal defense attorney. Most people are not aware of the laws applied to these circumstances, but they are strict. Section 3743 of the Title 75 of the PA Motor Vehicle Code requires you to remain at the scene and exchange information when there is an accident involving property damage. Section 3744 basically says that if you cannot locate the other driver or property owner you need to go to the closes police station and make a report. A misdemeanor 3 can stay on your record for years, and there is a hidden driver license suspension with this offense. Believing that you hit a reflector pole, if damaged, would require such reporting to the police. However, your defense of not knowing you hit another vehicle and you being fully insured and hopefully not having a bad driving record, may help in negotiating this down to a summary leaving the scene or even another less harmless traffic offense. An attorney will know every angel of this. Do not try it on your own.
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 Please remember that the arrest record remains in the system even if your case was dismissed, withdrawn or you were not found guilty.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: I am being sued what do I need to do? (Kennedy Township, PA)
A: There is a possibility you may be charged with a misdemeanor, summary offenses and local ordinance violations. A “dangerous” dog is one that has attacked, severely injured, or killed a human being or domestic animal, without provocation, and while it was away from its owner’s property. In Pennsylvania, an owner whose “dangerous dog” attacks a person may be guilty of a misdemeanor. You can also be sued in civil court. The measure of damages in a civil case would be limited to the value of the deceased dog and out of pocket medical expenses incurred by owner. These are very unfortunate situations, people simply love their pets. You should consult with an attorney to limit your potential damages. You might also want to consult with your veterinarian and line up an aggression evaluation and perhaps some behavior modification training for the dog to ensure this dog stays on your property.
Q: I pleaded nolo contendere to a DUI as part of a Phoenix Docket seven years ago and have been free of arrests and convictions since. Is it possible to get this expunged in PA?
A: You may not be entitled to a full expungement but under the November 14, 2016 changes to the PA Crimes Code, you may be eligible for a limited access order if you have a clean record for 10 years and your DUI was not graded as a misdemeanor 1 or above.
EXPUNGEMENT, DUI, LIMITED ACCESS, MISDEMEANOR
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.