Q: My nephew was arrested in Washington County but lives in Glassport. Now on probation. Does he have to stay in that county while on probation. He took a plea bargain as opposed to jail time and is on probation 3 years for a felony he didn’t commit. (Glassport, PA)
A: Normally, probation can be transferred to another county. This is not always true with house arrest or alternative housing. Ideally, he should ask the judge at sentencing to transfer jurisdiction of his sentence to Allegheny and then ask his probation officer to. It should be no problem.
Q: Two years-ago I ended up in ARD and the docket still says awaiting completion. I just finished my community service Wednesday and it still allows me to pay my fines off so I’m not sure if I’m still on it or not. (East Pittsburgh, PA)
A: ARD will not close the case until ALL the requirements of your ARD conditions are completed. This includes all costs and fines, classes, community service, if ordered, etc., etc. The idea is to get through ARD as fast as you can afford it to get off probation.
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 work in the medical field with patients coming in for their appointments. I want to keep my job, but I’m sure my boss will not want my PO officer to come by and check on me. Is there any way this can be avoided so I can keep my job? (Braddock, PA)
A: It is possible. It depends on how intrusive your probation is. With non-reporting probation, the defendant usually visits his probation officer at the beginning and never hears from him or her again except for a phone call. Reporting probation and more intrusive probation usually goes along with sentences for more serious crimes and those with more extensive criminal records. If you have a long criminal history and are on probation for a felony, a visit to your home would not be unusual and a visit to your job would be a bit unusual but not out of the question. The easiest way to find out would be to ask your lawyer or the court at sentencing.
Q: I am on juvenile probation, and someone told me this is not allowed. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: If you are female and he is a male (or opposite sexes), it should not be happening. If you are the same sex and he or she is legitimately monitoring urine tests, it is allowed. If it goes beyond that, you need to report it. (Pittsburgh, PA)
Q: I pleaded guilty to a M1 charge. They told me they would give me a fine and it will be a non-traffic fine. I’m still paying on the 1100 fine. Will the charge change once the fine is paid off?
A: The fact that you are asking this question is not reassuring that you even know what happened to you in court. A plea to and conviction of a Misdemeanor 1 and a plea to and conviction of a Non-Traffic Summary offense, are entirely different things. A Non-Traffic Summary offense is usually satisfied by fine. A plea to a Misdemeanor 1 will result in confinement or probation or both. If you cannot ask your lawyer who handled this, call the court to see exactly what your sentence was and what you were convicted of.
Q: I missed a probation appointment and haven’t contacted my probation officer. She called and said to contact her today or she is putting a warrant out for me! (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Hmmmmm. That is a tough one. The choice is to call your PO and not go to jail, or ignore her and have a warrant issued, which will land you in jail at some unsuspecting future time. If it is not too late already, call your PO and apologize and think of a damn good excuse for not calling her back. If you call and she says, tough, I already requested a warrant, you have two options. You can turn yourself in and expect to sit awhile in the Allegheny Iron Hilton. Or, you can hire an attorney to prepare a petition to lift detainer which puts a good spin on your screw-up and walk you into the probation judge’s court room. It may or may not keep you out of jail, there is no guarantee.
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 was in a neighboring county enjoying myself at the annual fair grounds. Apparently, I unknowingly ingested synthetic cannabis, but I don’t remember even having it or smoking it. The police report only states that I ingested it. Not that it was found on my person. Also, it states that I was found passed out and when I awoke I was handcuffed for being combative. I was taken to the hospital. No charges were filed. I was dehydrated, and they gave me sodium chloride to give my body fluids and a sedative called Ativan. When they gave me papers it said that I overdosed accidentally on the summary from the hospital. (Sewickley, PA)
A: Sounds like a good time. Maybe, maybe not. If you were cited or charged with a crime or non-traffic offense, it is more likely. I would look at your probation papers to see what your conditions are. In many counties, the probation office gives you a document which specifies your conditions. If one of the conditions is that you must report any new arrest or citation, then you run the risk by not doing so. Your conditions probably state that you must refrain from using drugs or alcohol but do not require you to report such use. My guess is that your PO should not know of it unless the officer who handled your hospital trip, runs your record, sees your prior case, knows you are on probation and calls your PO. It happens. Not to lecture you, but you could have died from whatever you ingested or have been seriously injured. Hopefully you will learn from this experience.
Q: In his technical probation violation court hearing, the judge said no living with or contacting me. I talked to his probation officer and she told me that I could contact him since it was never written on the sentencing paper work that we couldn’t have contact. According to her it only said that we couldn’t live together. She was fine with us talking till we got married then she got all mad and tried to say he was violating a court order. I even asked the Clerk of Courts when I got a copy of the sentencing paper work and they said the same thing, that we could have contact since it wasn’t written on the sentencing paper work. But the probation officer (who I swear is bi-polar) told him if she gets the transcripts and it says that we can’t have contact that he could have a probation violation on his hands. Can she even do that since she told both of us we we’re allowed to have contact and that she had to go by what the sentencing paper work said? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: It sounds like the judge verbally ordered no contact. Generally, “no contact” means NO contact, by any method. Regardless of what the written court order says, or what the probation officer thinks, I would advise not to risk it, and follow what the judge said verbally. The judge may remember what he or she said or may have kept notes. In addition, if the transcript of the hearing is ordered, it will be clear. The safest way to seek a limited contact order is to file a motion to reconsider, in which you ask the judge to grant some form of contact.