Q: This week I pulled over in a school parking lot to try and figure out my GPS and someone was yelling. This man came out yelling that I had to move, and he punched my new van leaving a dent in it. I pushed him, now the police called me saying I need to come in for an interview. Can they arrest me for pushing him and what can they charge me with and what can I charge him with? (Monroeville, PA)
A: Yes, the police can file charges against you. They could file anything from a misdemeanor Simple Assault down to a summary level Harassment. It is highly advisable that you not discuss what happened with the police. However, you can cooperate in making yourself available to receive charges. Tell them on advice of counsel, you cannot talk to them, but tell them you will accept papers in the mail or turn yourself in if necessary. You also should report this incident to your insurance company. You can ask the police to file criminal mischief charges against him for damaging your van. They may or may not take your charges against him. Police hate to file cross criminal complaints and therefore usually file charges on behalf of the first person who contacts them. This isn’t fair but that is the way it has always been.
Q: My X-wife is on probation for Endangering the Welfare of a Child. She got a simple assault charge for punching my mom on her property. Being that she is on probation, will she get jail time? If so, how much? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Assuming she is convicted, she faces two possible sentences. One, is from the probation judge for violating his probation by committing a new crime. The second one would be for the new, simple assault crime. There are many factors that the judge on the new case must consider in fashioning a sentence for a defendant. There are the sentencing guidelines which consider her prior criminal history and offense gravity score, how bad was her criminality in the probation case (what type of harm did she cause to a child), how bad was her criminality in the new case, was she on her own property or on your mom’s, did mom provoke her, etc., how long was she on probation until this episode happened with your mom, did your mom have injuries? She could get some time in the county jail, or she could get probation. As to the probation judge, he considers many factors as well, but mostly how she complied with his probation. By punching someone on his probation, he will be disappointed. My advice is to ask her attorney.
Q: Back in March my son who has an anger management issue donkey kicked me down the basement steps and I sustained a fracture of my right heel. It was a very significant fracture necessitating surgery and the physician feels that I will continue to have issues the rest of my life because of it. He and his five-year-old daughter had been living with me and now that he was arrested he refuses to let me see my granddaughter. Will he have to pay the medical costs that I have incurred? Will I be awarded any pain and suffering? Will he be forced to let me see my granddaughter or will he get jail time? (Glassport, PA)
A: He is in criminal court. The only decisions will be if he is guilty and if so, does he get jail time or probation. Criminal Court can make anger management counseling part of his probation. Criminal court can order him to pay back restitution (in your case, out of pocket medical expenses) over the course of his probation. Criminal Court can order him to have no contact with you. Criminal Court cannot award pain and suffering. Criminal court cannot do anything with custody of visitation of your daughter. If he gets jail time, unless the mother of the child is able and willing to parent, you may be eligible to be awarded temporary custody in Family Court. You may want to contact a Family lawyer to ask in the event your son is incarcerated, or a no contact order is invoked, if you have standing to file for custody or visitation with your grandchild.
Q: Can I purchase any of these with just a DUI and sSmple Assault misdemeanor on my state police background check that I ordered by mail?
A: I would have to look at the PA State Police criminal history record, but, I would think not, if either of those offenses was graded as a misdemeanor 2. A prior conviction for a Misdemeanor 2, will disqualify you from possessing a firearm in PA.
Q: My boyfriend and I were in a fight. I just lost a baby and found out he was cheating. I attacked him. He did not put his hands on me just detained me but I told police he did. He is on parole and is now in jail with a detainer.
A: These situations are complicated. Having charges dropped once they are filed is difficult but not impossible. You cannot just ask the police. The case will have to proceed to a preliminary hearing at which time you will be spoken to by the police, the DA and a victim/witness counselor. You will have the opportunity to speak with the victim/witness counselor and talk about this relationship and what you want to see happen. If there is no domestic violence history here, it may be possible for a withdrawal or a withdrawal after a continuance and domestic violence counseling. There is too much unknown her to advise with any certainty.
Q: My sister and I got into a fight on campus property. She called the cops on me & the cops called me and asked me to come into the station, I went into the police station they told me my charges (simple assault, harassment, criminal mischief- destruction of property) ~ I threw her phone and it broke. I was arrested for the night it was the scariest thing of my life, I never want to be handcuffed or in a cop car or in jail. I was ready to cry. My mug shot was take and they got my fingerprints. I was placed in the holding cell for the night, and in the morning around 9am I saw the judge. The judge explained all the charges to me, he let me leave on a bail of $5,000. He explained that this bail will be lifted if I do not engage in any physical contact with my sister. The judge explained that I have a preliminary hearing in a week and that I need to show up, and if I don’t show up I will be arrested. I left the correctional facility and called a public defender I explained to the lady that I am a college student, and I can’t afford a lawyer. I honestly just regret this whole thing happened but it did. I’m just scared of the outcome.
A: Talk to your Public Defender attorney. As a first timer and college student, you have options to get out of this without a record. Whatever caused your outburst, whether alcohol or anger, needs to be addressed. You may want to be proactive and consider some counseling, if necessary. If you don’t think you need it, do it anyway as it will make you look better when you come to court.
Q: My ex tried killing my daughter and I by running our van over a cliff. I grabbed the steering wheel and instead we hit a parked car and totaled my van. They wanted my daughter to testify and she had a major panic attack and her blood pressure went sky high. So, they made us drop it to two Simple Assault and Reckless Endangerment and other charges. He also has three Protection from Abuse petitions on him in three weeks of each other. Will he get his gun license back in Pittsburgh, PA?
A: Simple Assault and Reckless Endangerment of Another Person to my knowledge are both misdemeanors 2’s. As such, if convicted, either would bar a person from possession a firearm under PA law and Federal law. I do believe an active Protection from Abuse Order will also preclude one from possessing a firearm in PA.
Q: I was charged with simple assault misdemeanor 3 for someone trying to assault me at my home. I am a paralegal who worked for a attorney in my town until his passing. I have a question that will blow your mind. A man posted on face book pictures of my house, stating he was coming to my house to kick in my door and drag me outside and beat me. (Of course I have screen shots) Hours later this man came to my home. Upon opening the door I physically assaulted him with six full cans of pop wrapped in a pillow case, repeatedly. I did this immediately as he knocked aggressively and I opened the door. Now the police officer handling the case calls me today to give me a heads up that the D/A is charging me with M3 Simple assault. The man said I stabbed him. WRONG. I even let the police view my home that has small children inside at the time. How the hell is it possible I am charged with anything. YES I have a vast criminal record. YES I assaulted him on my porch. What is my next step? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Two people engaged in a fight can both be charged with Simple Assault by Mutual Combat which is an M3. You may even have a self defense argument. They key is not to talk to anyone, including the police, except an attorney. Save your screen shots and preserve all other evidence.
Q. How to drop criminal mischief charges when officer refuses? My boyfriend and I got into a fight and he damaged some of my possessions and was charged with criminal mischief. Since he received the citation, we have decided he would pay me the money owed for the damages without dealing with going to court. I called the DA office and they told me only the officer charging could drop the charges. When I contacted him to ask him to drop the charges, he refused. I had no idea it was going to be this extreme all I wanted was money to pay for the damages. What can I do to get the charges dropped when we are already resolving the issue?
A. See a lawyer. You can refuse to testify, even if the DA and police officer attempt to persuade you to do so. The only person that can hurt you is the Judge who can hold you in contempt of court for not testifying and put you in jail. This is doubtful and most judges will not go to this extreme in domestic case, especially if you were not personally hurt. If you hear the judge warn you about contempt, then you may think twice and testify. The lawyer can guide you through this it is too tricky to do on your own. Be careful not to change your previous story to police or you may end up in jail for false reports. Also, these charges cannot be dropped until his hearing. Your refusal to prosecute has to be on the record.