I wrecked my car and my son’s drugs were in it which I didn’t know

Q: I was driving and ran off the road. No property damage. My granddaughter was in the back seat. No injuries. Drugs and paraphernalia that was not mine was in the car and I didn’t know about it until the police stuck it in my face. I own the car, but my son drives it all the time. What kind of charges and outcome am I looking at? How do I prove they were not my drugs? (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: If you are guilty or plan on pleading guilty, to determine what your sentence would be depends on several factors such as the type and quantity of drugs and your prior criminal record. If you have no record or a minimal criminal record and the drugs are consistent with personal use, marijuana or even heroin, you could be looking at probation. If they found several pounds of packaged heroin in your car, that is another matter. Also important is where the drugs were found in the car. The Commonwealth would have the burden to prove a theory of constructive possession beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you. These cases are very fact specific. If all the facts in their totality indicate that you may not have been in possession of the drugs and they may have belonged to someone else, you may have a defense. Only a skilled criminal defense attorney would know so I suggest you consult with one.

Do officers have to tell you if you’re getting a ticket?

Q: My roommate and I got pulled over a few weeks ago in a routine DUI checkpoint. He told her that she had to get the tint removed from her vehicle and said, “make sure you’re always wearing your seatbelt.” Then today she got 3 tickets in the mail, one for the tint and one for each of us not having seatbelts on, even though I had mine on. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: They need not tell you. They can just take your information and send you a Notice of Summary Hearing in the mail along with the citation. Plead not guilty and request a hearing. If your friend has the tint removed by the time of the hearing, the officer may withdraw that citation . As to the seat belts violations, if you come across as polite and good people at the hearing, the judge may let you go with a warning. You can hire a lawyer and it will go easier.