Will I be looking at jail time driving on a suspended license while on state parole?

Q: My husband is on state parole and has been doing very well staying out of trouble. However, this past week I had issues with my car, and it broke down and I was hysterical crying. He had offered to drive although he has a suspended license due to his legal issues. We ended up getting pulled over and my husband was very compliant and explained he does not have a license. The police officer ended up issuing 3 tickets; 1 for inspection, 1 for fail to change address and the last for driving with a suspended license due to a prior DUI offense. Today we got a court hearing notice for the tickets and our main concern is if he will have to do jail time considering this would be a violation of his parole. For being on good behavior, he did just step down in his program so it’s not so intense for his PO to do check in. Is it worth seeing if there is a possibility for house arrest or extended parole sentence as opposed to jail time? We are trying to prepare ourselves in this matter and plan accordingly for what our options may be, if any. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: Your husband is only charged with summary level motor vehicle offenses. Summary level motor vehicle offense convictions on parole are only considered to be technical violations of probation or parole, and hence not subject to penalties invoked if one is a “convicted violator” as in being convicted of a misdemeanor or felony while on parole. If he is convicted of the 1543 driving under suspension, his parole officer could recommend no action being taken, sanctions or a small amount of jail time. As far as the 1543, this carries a 60 days jail sentence for a first offense, but Allegheny County offers electronic monitoring house arrest. Make sure he has an attorney. Depending on the Assistant DA and the officer, this case could be pleaded down to a 1501 or 1511. Neither of those carry a jail sentence or license suspension. I have luck with these cases, but it really depends if law enforcement wants to give him a break.

Will retail theft charges be consecutive or concurrent for sentencing?

Q: What happens when 2 counties (PA) simultaneously charge Felony 3 retail theft and receiving stolen property lumped together? Husband recently arrested in Beaver County and charged w/2 counts each of retail theft and receiving stolen prop, all Felony 3’s. Allegheny County is also about to charge him with 1 count each of the same charge. He was on state parole at the time and his violation is the new charges. They are felony 3 due to his extensive criminal record; mainly from 10 plus years ago. The parole was from bad checks from 5 years ago. I know an F3 can result in 7 yrs. Unsure if 4 counts F3 mean 28 yrs? Consecutive or concurrent? Confused by the law…

A:  Two counties can charge him as long as each set of charges are for different offenses, arising out of different circumstances. For example, county A can charge for Retail Theft of shoes from Macy’s within County A jurisdiction but County B cannot charge Retail Theft for the same shoes from the same Macys in County A. County B can charge, for example, Fleeing and Eluding if there is a police chase in County B after the Retail Theft which happens in County A. In regard to the new charges, yes, although I wouldn’t expect it with your husband, the court can sentence consecutive (stacking) and not concurrent (merged). However, these types of crime probably “merge” for sentencing purposes. I think his potential parole violation is your biggest concern. The judge can sentence him to the balance of his prior probation sentence. If he is under the jurisdiction of the PA Board of Probation and Parole, his sentence will be whatever the PBPP normally doles out for parole violators in his situation under their rigid guidelines. If he is under state parole, he should ask his parole officer what the violation “hit” will be. If he cannot afford counsel for the PBPP hearing, he can request a Public Defender.



Q: I violated my parole in PA can I get out on bond?

A: It is hard to tell what you are asking without more information. I will assume you are on parole and not probation, as there is a difference. Normally, you will have a Gagnon I hearing to determine if you should be held in jail pending a final hearing on whether or not you violated your parole, which is called a Gagnon II. If you are under jurisdiction of the PA Board of Probation and Parole, generally, your penalty will be more harsh and predictable. If you are still under jurisdiction of the judge who sentenced you, you may, may, have more flexibility in having an attorney petition the judge for relief such as alternative housing or electronic home monitoring. There is no bond with probation or parole violations. The way to get out of jail is to have either the PA Board of Probation and Parole, or the judge who sentenced you, whichever has jurisdiction, to grant you relief. This is normally done by having an attorney file a petition requesting such relief. Generally, filing such a motion with the PABPP is not worth it.