Q: When I go in for the execution of my jail sentence will I go in front of a judge or straight to jail? I was charged with driving under a suspended license. It is my first time offense. I was sentenced to 60 days in jail. Can I get community service or something else to avoid going to jail? (Bethel Park, PA)
A: If you were convicted by a District Justice, which I think is what you are saying, you have 30 days to report back to turn yourself in for sentencing. A 1543 (b) which is a DUI related driving under suspension, carries 60 days in jail, a $500 fine and a one year license suspension. A 1543 (a) offense is a non-DUI related suspension, carries a $200 fine, a 1 year license suspension and no jail time. I was assuming you were convicted of $1543 (b), the more severe punishment of the two. In Allegheny County, the District Justice does not have jurisdiction to sentence you to house arrest. In order to get house arrest, you have to appeal the conviction within 30 days. When you file the appeal, you will be given a court date before a judge in the Court of Common Pleas who does have jurisdiction to sentence you to house arrest. To file the appeal go to the courthouse and fill out the form at the Clerk of Courts and pay the filing fee. I advise hiring an attorney if you can. An attorney can also handle this for you to make sure it is done correctly and may possibly have the 1543 (b) negotiated down to another lesser traffic offense, if the police officer is willing, or if there is a defense.