Q: A friend of mine just recently got into an accident. He moved slightly into the adjacent lane going about 25-30 mph and hit the side of another car. His BAC was about .11 on a breathalyzer. No one was hurt, and everyone was very accepting of his apology. Unfortunately, he is on probation and only had 2 and a half months left. He is in jail now waiting for the blood work to come back and waiting on a court date. What can we all expect for him as far as sentencing? Is house arrest a possibility? Or are we looking at months of incarceration? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Too little information here to advise. Like, why didn’t he make bond on his DUI? Is there a probation detainer? If it is a probation detainer holding him in jail, it is for a prior DUI? Is this a first, second, third DUI? Does he have a prior record? You should see that he is represented by either a private attorney or a public defender. The fact that he was in accident will likely raise his DUI penalties. If this is a 3rd or 4th DUI, his case will go to DUI court. He will likely not have a jail sentence, but DUI court requires strict compliance and monitoring.
Q: If I call the cops on my baby father and he get locked up, but he is on parole will he do time even if it isn’t his fault? I got mad at him, called the cops and got him locked up for nothing. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: If baby’s father was arrested, there is a good chance he was detained on a parole violation. Being detained means he will have to sit in jail until this new case with you as a victim is resolved. Once it is resolved, he will still sit in jail until the parole board or parole or probation judge schedules a detainer hearing. If the jurisdiction is with a county judge, meaning he is on probation with a judge, you may want to see if a criminal defense attorney can file a motion to lift detainer. This would allow him to be released from jail pending his probation violation hearing. The Public Defender does not handle petitions to life probation or parole detainers. This may take a while.
Q: I have a status conference tomorrow. I am on probation already why would they send for a status conference? I’m on probation but me and my baby momma was arguing about our son and she pressed harassment charges on me but then tried to drop it, but we got the run around ever since. I was just wondering since they didn’t tell me what that status conference is about can I get a continuance until I find out what is happening? I am on probation for 2 grams of pot and have been on probation for about half a year with another 6 months to go. Could they just be checking on how I am doing? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: I assume your status conference is related to your probation and not the new harassment charge. Assuming I am correct, it sounds like a Gagnon I or initial probation violation hearing to determine, if based on the alleged violation (the harassment charge) you should be sent to jail or allowed to remain at home. If you are doing everything in accordance with the terms and conditions of your probation, your angle is to minimize the new charge as being falsely made and one that will be dropped. You will do better if you are represented by an attorney. If you handle it yourself, you should not speak about the facts of the harassment case to anyone or your statements can be used against you in court.
Q: I got a gift for my birthday which was a lottery ticket and don’t know if I can cash it. (South Park, PA)
A: The lottery is legalized gambling, the operative word being “legalized”. Unless the terms and conditions of your probation prohibit going to Casino’s or buying scratch cards, you should be OK.
Q: I recently had a hit and run and I’m under DUI license suspension. I am on five years IIP probation. How much time am I facing? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Driving under a DUI suspension will get you a 60-day suspension added on to your DUI suspension, assuming this is a first Section 1543 b offense, as well as a $500.00 fine. If you hit an attended vehicle which resulted in serious bodily injury to the other driver, it is a Felony 3. If you hit a vehicle which was attended but the other driver was not injured, it is a Misdemeanor 3. If you hit an unattended vehicle, it is a Summary offense. If you are convicted of the Misdemeanor 3 or Felony 3 while on probation, you could conceivably face jail time on the probation violation because your judge on the DUI can sentence you to a probation violation which could be more incarceration. You may receive a notice of probation violation from your Probation Officer and he could have you detained pending the outcome of your new misadventure. I would contact a lawyer as soon as possible to be prepared for what is coming your way and get ahead of it. Also, I must mention, the misdemeanor and felony damage to attended vehicles will carry an additional license suspension on top of the others. I would get together with a lawyer to prepare for what is coming. I would also invest in a DUI bicycle.
Q: Recently I wrote a bad check and wanted to know if my probation officer could find that out if sent to a debt collector. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: I doubt if your PO can discover a bad check and threatening letter from a debt collector. However, failure to make payment on a check after notification that it was written on a closed account or NSF balance, can result in criminal “bad check” charges being filed. I would do my best to enter a payment plan. Also, I would be more concerned if you are on probation for financial and/or similar crimes. It will look like you didn’t get it the first time. However, if you are on probation for something totally unrelated, and having financial difficulties, your PO may not come at you as hard. If you feel that you cannot settle this, you may want to get ahead of it and tell the PO.
Q: I just caught two felony counts of possession with intent to deliver. I’m on probation for robbery but no probation violation was filed. Is a summons a possibility or am I guaranteed arrest? (McKees Rocks, PA)
A: You really need to discuss this with the lawyer who is intimately familiar with your case. However, I can offer this. Yes, it is possible to turn the new active warrant into a summons. You will need to have your attorney bring you to a Common Pleas Court Motions Judge on the warrant and have it vacated and bail set. However, there is a problem with this. By the time you get to court, the probation warrant may have been filed. Once in court before the Motions Judge, you could be detained on the probation warrant and escorted to the Allegheny Iron Hilton. All your time incarcerated from that point will then count toward the probation violation, not your new case. You will not be able to make bond on the new case until either your probation violation judge conducts your probation violation hearing (which is held after your new case is disposed of, or your detainer is lifted. A detainer can be lifted through the process of your attorney filing a written motion and convincing your probation judge to let you back on the street even though you were arrested for a new felony drug case while on his or her probation for robbery. As they say, you are in a pickle. Save money for your attorney.
Q: My son’s father was on state parole and to follow extremely strict rules. On Monday, his PO called him saying, I need you to meet me at your dad’s house with my supervisor at 930 tomorrow. So, he goes, and is sent back to jail. I tried calling the prison and the PO, nobody will give me any info besides that he violated parole. Won’t say how he violated and there is a detainer. So how do I find out what he did, how long will he be there. He hasn’t even been to that jail for a week, so will it take time to see a judge. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Obviously the probation officer feels he has done something to violate his parole. It could be a technical violation such as a hot urine or failure to report to his PO. I could be a new arrest. It is a shame they won’t tell you. Call the probation office tomorrow.
Q: I was in subway with friend and they got into a fight. I was pulled in middle of situation but, didn’t have anything to do with me. We both were arrested. Now I go to court. I didn’t start anything just defended myself. (Castle Shannon, PA)
A: You need to inform your probation officer. Normally, he or she will wait until the preliminary hearing and see if your case is held for court or not, before he or she will file for a violation. Your goal is to get your case dismissed or at the most pleaded down to a summary conviction at the preliminary hearing. If it is dismissed, you may not face a probation violation. If you end up pleading to, or being found guilty of, a summary Disorderly Conduct, the PO may or may not file for a violation given that a summary conviction on probation is considered a technical violation of probation. I would get a lawyer for the preliminary hearing. A lot of times, victims in these situations do not show for court.
Q: I am currently in ARD probation for highest rate DUI. My probation officer is requesting to have me removed for drinking. Would it be possible to petition the court to keep me in the program if i seek help for my alcohol problem? (Verona, PA)
A: It may be possible to stay in the program. You will need to be proactive in addressing your issue by seeking treatment voluntarily, possibly even in patient, and provide written proof of such treatment to the judge. Having a lawyer will help you to determine if your particular situation can be explained to the judge and set you in the right direction regarding treatment.