Q: If you want context, continue reading. If not, scroll to the bottom to see the actual question. Thanks in advance. In 2013 an ex-boyfriend strangled me. At the time the courts didn’t deem the offense worthy of more than a misdemeanor. He stole my car after the assault…to this day it boggles my mind that stealing my car was a greater offense (felony) than rendering me unconscious and cutting off my air supply during a pregnancy, but whatever. Anyway, felony dropped, he walked with a misdemeanor, and a few months in jail. Fast forward to 2018, the dockets indicate he’s been charged for the same type of offense again against yet another woman, yet this time the charges they are bringing forth are F2 charges for strangulation. Preliminary already happened, trial this month. Child endangerment charge added in the mix, I’m told he did this to the mom in front of her child. I won’t get my hopes up. Likely they’ll be lowered to a misdemeanor. None the less, at the risk of sounding salty, I would really like to be present to watch him get hauled away on a felony this time. Am I allowed to be there, just sitting quietly among the courtroom seats, or are DV trials private proceedings? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Yes, you can. Criminal proceedings are open to the public. Anyone can stroll through the Allegheny Courthouse on any given day and much like a shopping mall, enter a number of courtrooms and check out the wares. Homicide trials, shootings, DUI pleas, sentencings, motions to suppress evidence. It is like real court TV. You might also want to talk to the Assistant DA who is handling the case. In some cases, the prosecution is permitted to introduce evidence of prior events if there is a similar pattern of behavior by the defendant. The Allegheny County DA has done it in sex crime cases.
Q: My partner and I were caught by a police officer being intimate inside my partners car at an outdoor park that was closed at night. The officer took my partners name and drivers number, and just my name. We are both 18. I am just wondering what will or could happen. The officer did state that he knows it’s a different day and age and we are being kids. However, it is concerning that he still took down information. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: I am not sure exactly what you mean by “intimate”. If your actions involved having sex in a public park, even if closed, you could be cited with Open Lewdness, which reads as follows:
§ 5901. Open lewdness.
“A person commits a misdemeanor of the third degree if he does any lewd act which he knows is likely to be observed by others who would be affronted or alarmed”.
If what you were doing was not that offensive and the officer wants to cut you a break, he may not file charges. He may have taken names and information for a record in the event police locate you there in the future. If the officer will file, you are considered at adult at age 18, and therefore may receive a summons for court. If you do, take it to a lawyer. The lawyer will know what options are available to you.
Q: I’m a nudist who wants to be as nude as possible as often as possible. The laws for PA I’ve found online don’t seem to stress anything else outside of genitalia interaction, other than offensive sexual gestures. Could I possibly garden or go to a public place (that doesn’t require some specific dress code) while mostly nude except for a covering over just my genitals without being charged for a crime? Or is there a law against baring one’s buttocks in public? If there is, could I walk around in most public places or in public view wearing just a speedo or G-string bikini? Just how nude can an innocent nudist be in most public places and in private but public view, a nudist with no intention to alarm, offend, or sexually arouse people through nudity, while remaining free from a conviction? (Beaver Falls, PA)
A: Pennsylvania defines Indecent Exposure as conduct involving a person who “exposes his or her genitals in any public place or in any place where there are present other persons when he or she knows or should know that this conduct is likely to offend, affront or alarm.” Yes, your genitalia must be covered under a strict interpretation of the statute. However, I think you would be pushing the limits by appearing in public dressed in only a speedo or G-string bikini. I have no doubt that some citizen will have an issue with you and the police will be called. The police are likely not to agree with your interpretation of the statute and you will be cited or arrested. My suggestion would be to do this behind a privacy fence in your own yard or join a nudist colony if you are not already a member.