Q: She used her son’s social security number to get her utilities turned on and to get rebates. We reported her to the gas and light company and are waiting for information. Can she get arrested? Can she go to jail? (Pitcairn, PA)
A: She has committed the crime of Fraud and maybe Theft of Services. Whether you will have the joy of seeing her lose her housing, yes, but going to jail, probably not, she will probably get probation, especially if she has no criminal history.
Q: I am late paying Arron’s about 30 days. I can’t pay till the 28th of this month. I am scared I can go to jail for not giving back all the property because I gave the TV’s to family members, but I got the furniture. (North Versailles, PA)
A: If you don’t return what was loaned to you in accordance with the lease agreement you signed, yes, you can be held liable under civil, and criminal law. Aarons could file criminal Theft charges against you or similar charges under theft of leased property. Best bet is to retrieve the TV’s from family (C’mon, the Super Bowl is over) and return them. If you cannot do that, you need to have the money to pay for them. (restitution) Whether you go to jail or not would be determined by what you are charged with and your criminal record.
Q: I worked for this elderly man for a long time. He died and left me a nice car and paid the taxes for me. Now I was arrested for theft and elder abuse and the car was impounded. It has been six months since the arrest and no charges have been filed. I received all bond money back, but the car is still impounded. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: You need to prove how the car is yours. If it was left to you in a Will, or the deceased man left at least a note stating that you are to receive his car, that would be some proof. All you have is your word. When property is confiscated by police, but the accused is never charged, the accused can petition the court to have the police return his or her property. If you were the owner, the police would need to comply with the order and return the property to you, its rightful owner. I imagine the car will become property of the deceased man’s estate. In that case contact the Executor or attorney for the estate and tell them what happened.
Q: My friend got me a few pieces of clothing and an Apple Watch for Christmas this past year. We’re are not friends anymore and he wants everything back and says that if I don’t he’ll press charges against me. Can I get in trouble? (Rostraver, PA)
A: They sound like gifts. Gifts are gifts and are different from loans. Gifts are unconditional. If there was no condition attached to the gifts, they are yours. The fact that the Apple watch was given at Christmas sounds like a gift. Unless he has use for your clothes or can return them, the clothes sound like a gift. I don’t know what the other person’s story is, but as you describe it, they sound like gifts. Nonetheless, if he can convince a police officer that these were stolen, or on loan, you could be charged, but I don’t see it happening. If you are contacted by police, do not make a statement and call an attorney.
Q: My manager accused me of stealing $96 from a server and showed me the video. It doesn’t show me taking any money. She told me to empty my pockets and there was nothing in my pockets besides $50 from payday on Thursday. She is bi-polar and an alcoholic. (Robinson Twp., PA)
A: If you are telling the truth I would fight this and ask to speak to the owner or anyone above the manager. However, PA is an at will employment state and you can therefore be fired for any reason at all unless the reason is based on a protected class such as race, gender, sexual preference, age, disability, etc. You may want to speak with an employment discrimination lawyer.
Q: My husband lives in assisted living facility and my sister in law has not paid any of his bills for the home nor had she paid pharmacy bills, etc. What can I do? She will not answer any phone calls from me nor the assisted living facility. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Call the Department of Aging and report Elder Abuse. You may want to see if the police can help. Neither agency may want to be involved as your sister in law is presumably in charge and it may take a court order for them to investigate her use of his funds. Although I would talk to these agencies, it may be necessary to involve a lawyer to file a petition for accounting which will force her to account for her use of his funds. If it turns out she stole money, criminal charges of theft and civil liability may be in her future.
Q: I was arrested for supposedly forging someone’s name and theft by deception. They say I went to a jewelry store with a yellow slip and picked up a ring and signed the victim’s name. They showed the victim a picture. She snapped a picture with her phone, then posted it to social media. She then supposedly received a message from me on social media, but I never sent any message. because of that message told the officer my name. The officer then looked through JNET and PennDOT to finds my picture and he says it matches the person in video. But I have an alibi for that day. (Wexford, PA)
A: You can be arrested on another person’s word and belief that you committed a crime, even if you didn’t. I advise you to make no statements to anyone, not only police, but anyone. Also, gather your evidence and preserve it. If you have an Alibi defense in that you were at another location in the company of others at the time, get those persons names and contact information and any other evidence including video, time cards, receipts, etc. If the mistaken identity defense does not knock the case ouy early on, there is some interesting law on the use of social media as evidence that you may benefit from. Most importantly, get an attorney and share all the information with him or her. If you cannot afford one, sign up for the Public Defender.
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: Data breeches.
A: Or a tailor. “Breeches” are trousers that extend only slightly past the knee. In West Virginia they are called “britches”. I assume you mean data breach however I am not sure if you are the accused or someone has stolen on-line data from you. If you are the suspect, I would suggest not talking to police or anyone about the case and consulting with a criminal defense attorney.
Q: I have one count of theft. What is the chargers?
A: Theft can be the basis for a civil or criminal prosecution. I am guessing here that you are inquiring about Theft the crime. Theft, as a crime, has several subsections, including Theft by Unlawful Taking, Theft by Deception, Theft of Leased Property, Retail Theft. etc. It can be graded anywhere from a summary offense for Retail Thefts, and then progress upward to Felony Thefts depending on the value of the alleged stolen property. On the bright side, being charged with one count of theft is better than being charged with 2 or 3 or 5 or 10 counts.
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