Q: My fiancé was sentenced to house arrest in December and we have not heard anything. Is there a statute of limitations? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: It sounds like your fiancé was sentenced already, so there is no 60-day rule that applies to the time one must be sentenced after an adjudication of guilty. I assume you mean, house arrest, electronic home monitoring? It sounds like you need to call the Adult Probation Office of Allegheny County and explain what has happened. It seems like an oversight. I would check to make sure they do not have an incorrect address for him which could lead to problems.
Q: I was sitting in the car all night getting high and I woke up to the police knocking on the window. I opened the door and I had drugs laying on my shirt. (Union City, PA)
A: This is difficult to give a reasonably accurate answer without more information. Generally, the courts sentence according to the sentencing guidelines which are a complex matrix of numbers. The two key factors in the guidelines are the Offense Gravity Score (OGS) which is a number assigned to each offense based on how serious it is, and the Prior Records Score (PRS) which is a number based on the individual’s prior records score. The OGS for Possession of a Controlled Substance will be low as it is an ungraded misdemeanor, but the unknown factor here is the OGS. In larger counties like Allegheny and Philadelphia, possession of a controlled substance usually results in probation. However, in smaller counties, a jail sentence is possible, even for possession of marijuana. Ask your private or public lawyer, they will know.
Q: My boyfriend has been in jail for more than 6 months already. He was charged with theft, again, while in jail. The judge sentenced him to 6 more months, to be run concurrent with his other time. So why is his lawyer saying that his time didn’t start till 4 days ago? (Jefferson Hills, PA)
A: I would ask his lawyer first. Just because two sentences are “concurrent” with each other does not mean that they start and stop at the same time, or simultaneously. For example, if he is serving a 6-month sentence that started on January 1, 2018 it would end on June 1, 2018. If he was sentenced to a new 6 -month sentence on March 1, 2018, it will end on September 1, 2018, not June 1, 2018.
Q: My son was in the vehicle and never got out of the vehicle when an acquaintance broke into a home to steal marijuana the homeowner was home and shot the kid in the leg my son hopped in the driver’s seat of the perpetrators car and drove him out of there was immediately arrested and has been incarcerated since December they are taking it to trial my son has no representation and is facing some Hefty charges. (West Mifflin, PA)
A: Even without a prior record, these charges could result in a jail sentence. I’ve had similar cases and the facts are different in every case, so you cannot necessarily say he will get jail or he will not get jail. Working against you is that it is likely believed that your son was involved and not merely present at the scene by some misfortune. In one of my cases, the kids broke into a local pot grower’s home, hit him with a bat, broke his arm, rolled him up in a carpet and were running out the door with marijuana plants when the police arrived. My client was hiding under the cellar steps when the police arrived. He wouldn’t come out, so they let a German Shepard loose on him. By the time of trial, the co-conspirator that was to testify against all the defendants OD’d and died and because the victim was as drug dealer and less sympathetic in the eyes of law enforcement, the DA and cops allowed my client to plead to receive probation. I think the police also went a little easy on my client because he was pretty chewed up by the dog. (lacerations, stitches, nerve damage, etc.) The point is that every case is different. Perhaps your son’s attorney can distance your son from the other guy and perhaps the police and DA do not like the alleged victim if he is a known drug user or dealer. Your son is no doubt young and has no criminal record, which will work in his favor. He needs an attorney whether private or public.
Q: Can I get jail for taking a customer’s wallet from his shopping cart? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: If you turned it in to lost and found or the manager within a reasonable amount of time, most likely not. If you retained control over this wallet, you may be charged with theft. If you have no criminal record, you may be able to get and ARD resolution of your case, or perhaps another diversion. Unless you have a lengthy criminal record, jail is not likely.
Q: My son’s father just got his second DUI. The first was pretty bad. He had a fleeing and eluding charge that was dropped to a misdemeanor in exchange for 2 months in jail on work release. This time he crashed into someone’s garage, totaled his car, damaged the homes garage and both vehicles inside it. His BAC was a .167 the 1st offense. This time it’s a .141. He has a relatively long criminal record. With a public defender (or per se) how much time could he be facing? (Kittanning, PA)
A: A second DUI with a BAC between .10 and .159 calls for a minimum sentence of 30 days in jail. Not every county handles their DUI sentencing the same. In the larger counties, there generally are more options for alternative housing and electronic home monitoring. His prior sentence will probably foreshadow his new sentence so if I had to guess I would guess he may get 6 months in jail with some portion of it being work release. He will also have another driver’s license suspension, at least for one year. You really need to talk to an Armstrong County DUI attorney for a more specific answer.
Q: The father of my kids got another DUI. He never had a license. The first 2 are older but this is his 3rd. His preliminary was waived for court this morning and I’m trying to get an idea of what’s going to happen. Current charges are BAC .02 or higher 3rd offence for DUI general impairment, failure to stop at red signal, illegal turn, following too closely, failure to yield to emergency vehicle and careless driving. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: If this is a third DUI with a .02 BAC, the sentencing guidelines calls for a 90 day to 5- year sentence and a $1500 to $10000 fine, in addition to a laundry list of other conditions such as a drug and alcohol evaluation, alcohol highway safety classes and of course, probation. In Allegheny County, he may eligible for alternative house arrest or electronic home monitoring. However, if you mean .2, not .02, then the guidelines call for 1 to 5 years of imprisonment, which is normally a state sentence. My advice is to have him represented as early as possible by counsel. He may qualify for DUI court in Pittsburgh. This program keeps the defendant out of jail and at home on electronic monitoring but is an intensive and intrusive method of forcing people to stop drinking. If the person fails to comply with the program, they end up in state prison. Again, an attorney can guide him.
Q: If someone has past assault charges, both misdemeanors and felonies, and is now facing a charge of unlawful restraint and another simple assault charge what kind of prison time may they be facing? (Coraopolis, PA)
A: No one can answer this question without much more information. For example, first and foremost, the criminal history of the defendant and how the charges are graded (sentencing guidelines), the particular circumstances of this case, the position of the DA and the personality of the judge.
CRIMINAL LAW, ASSAULT, SENTENCE
Q: My little sister just passed away and my mind was not in the right place and I was driving drunk and crashed into a neighborhood pool (closed). This is my first mess up on probation and I never been in jail. Do you think I’ll get longer probation or jail time?
A: Much more information would need to be known before any lawyer can answer this question. I suggest you consult with a lawyer immediately. In Allegheny County with a DUI, if you are not ARD eligible, you may receive alternative housing or possibly house arrest, but jail is a possibility too. Again, more information is needed. As you are aware, your probation judge can treat your DUI offense committed while on his or her probation as a probation violation and potentially sentence you to jail or extended probation.
Q: Can a minor be charged with a felony? (forgery, bad checks, theft by deception) What is the punishment? Checks were taken from a friend’s grandparents, their signatures forged, and the checks cashed. Two people were involved, one a minor and one an adult. The adult is currently incarcerated, but the minor would like to turn herself in for the crimes they helped commit. The minor participated willingly in the acts and is fully willing to take a punishment, given the punishment on the adult is lessened.
A: Yes, minors can be charged with just about all of the charges an adult can be charged with. The charges are filed in juvenile court. This minor and his parents should speak to an experienced lawyer in your county, before turning himself in and confessing. He may or may not have a defense. The police may or may not have enough evidence to charge him. If there is no defense, he can accept whatever punishment they are offering. If sentenced in juvenile court, the possible sentences would depend on this juvenile’s prior criminal history among many other things. If he has a good background, he could possibly receive a Consent Decree followed by probation which does not result in a conviction, if he completed probation successfully. The other more severe sentences moving up the scale would be, electronic home monitoring and probation, regular probation, or placement in a juvenile facility.