Frequently Asked Questions
Must I report a criminal charge to the Pennsylvania licensing board if I received ARD?
As of April 15, 2018, the answer is most likely yes. On April 15th of 2018, Pennsylvania legislature law, P.L. 14, No. 6 became effective and requires a “licensee,” meaning a person issued a professional license from the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, to report an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD), verdict of guilt, admission of guilt, plea of nolo contendre, or acceptance of Probation Without Verdict (PWOV) of any felony or misdemeanor offense to the appropriate licensing board within 30 days of that resolution being accepted by the court. To be clear, the triggering factor for reporting to the... Learn More
Do I Need to Report Expunged Charges on an ARD Application
Many Pennsylvania ARD applications contain a question that requires applicants to report prior charges even if those charges have been expunged or sealed. Obviously, if an applicant reports prior offenses or prior charges, such information will be considered by the district attorney when reviewing the ARD Application and are likely to reduce the probability of being approve for ARD. An ARD applicant clearly does not want to over report priors. However, if an applicant fails to report information, the omission is likely to result in denial of ARD and may even result in additional criminal charges. Many ARD Applications require... Learn More
What are the conditions and requirements of ARD?
The "punishment" or conditions and requirements of ARD are often relatively severe and onerous, and the requirements will vary from county to county and will vary depending upon the precise criminal charges and the factual basis for the charges. Almost all ARD programs impose a period of supervision by the probation department, payment of ARD costs and fees, and completion of community service. As may be expected, drug and alcohol-related cases often require completion of drug and alcohol counseling, and assault cases often require completion of anger management programs. While many counties have similar ARD conditions and requirements, differences often... Learn More
What is ARD?
ARD is the acronym for the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition program and is the generic phrase used for first-time offender programs in counties across Pennsylvania. ARD can be explained as a "probation without verdict" type of program, meaning a program that imposes a punishment ordered by the court but does not result in a conviction of the offense. Normally, a person only receives a sentence or punishment from the court if the person pleads guilty to or is convicted of a criminal charge. By being convicted or pleading guilty to the criminal charge, a person has a criminal record that will... Learn More
Can I get ARD for my DUI charge?
Eligibility for ARD Program for DUI Charges The ARD approval is a two-step process. The first step is that a person must be eligible under the law, and the second step is that the person must be approved by the prosecutor. With DUI offenses, 75 Pa.C.S. 3807 provides a list of people that are not eligible for ARD, including people: with a prior conviction or ARD disposition for a DUI offense within 10 years of the current DUI incident if the person had a passenger in the car that was under the age of 14 if that was an accident... Learn More
Does completion of ARD for my criminal case automatically result in the expungement of the charges from my record?
State College Expungement Lawyer Successful completion of ARD gives a person charged with criminal charges the ability to have charges dismissed and expunged. Many people make the mistake of believing that the court or probation department will complete the dismissal and expungement process for them. Centre County, like most counties in Pennsylvania, does not complete the expungement process for a criminal defendant. Instead, the person must file a Motion to Dismiss, and, upon having the criminal charges dismissed, a Petition to Expunge must be filed to have the dismissed criminal charges expunged. If the appropriate paperwork is not filed, then,... Learn More
I was told that my criminal charges were expunged because I completed ARD, so why did the criminal charges still appear on a criminal background search?
Pennsylvania Expungement LawyerThe prosecuting attorney, the Pennsylvania State Police central repository, and the court are permitted to retain the names and criminal history record information of people charged with DUI and other criminal offenses that have completed a pre-trial diversion or probation program, such as ARD, and the court has ordered expungement of the records. The information is only to be used for purposes of determining eligibility for programs such as ARD in the future, identifying persons in criminal investigations, or determining the grading of subsequent offenses. The information is available to any court or law enforcement agency upon request.... Learn More
The officer told me that I would get ARD for my criminal charges, so why should I talk to or hire a State College criminal defense lawyer?
Why would you NOT talk to a criminal defense lawyer?The better question is why would you not talk to a lawyer when you are charged with a criminal offense? First, most Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyers offer free consultations, so it will not cost you anything to have an experienced Centre County criminal defense attorney review your case. Second, while the officer may have been nice and offered to assist you with your criminal charges, you must remember that the officer's primary role in the criminal process is to assist the district attorney with the prosecution of the charges against YOU.... Learn More
Why I am being charged with Aggravated Assault or Simple Assault when I was simply defending myself?
Aggravated Assault or Simple AssaultThe decision on whether to file charges or not is often left to the discretion of the police officers investigating the assaultive conduct. There are times that police officers will seek guidance from the district attorney's office and file assault charges based upon the recommendations of the district attorney. In many instances, unless a case is clearly self-defense, the police often file Simple Assault or Aggravated Assault charges against some or all of the participants in the fight. At the scene, officers make initial credibility determinations as to which people or witnesses that the officers believe... Learn More
Why was I charged with Aggravated Assault and not just Simple Assault?
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania a charge of Aggravated Assault is graded as a felony, whereas Simple Assault is graded as a misdemeanor. Generally, the distinction between the charges is based upon the severity of the injury inflicted or the severity of the injury that was intended to be inflicted upon the victim.Serious Bodily InjuryMore specifically, a charge of Aggravated Assault generally requires that the assault suspect either caused or intended to cause a "serious bodily injury," and a charge of Simple Assault only requires evidence that the assault suspect either caused or intended to cause a "bodily injury." Pennsylvania... Learn More
Why didn’t the police talk to me to get my side of the story in the assault investigation?
This question is routinely asked by people charged with Simple Assault or Aggravated Assault in Centre County and other counties in Pennsylvania. Many assault cases, both Simple Assault and Aggravated Assault, are often "he-said-she-said" type of cases, meaning that many assault cases are not recorded on video or were not entirely viewed by an uninvolved party. Most of the witnesses to a fight are often friends of one side or the other and thereby not neutral. While people expect that the police would speak with both sides and thereby conduct a very thorough investigation, it appears that many times the... Learn More
Do I have to prove self-defense at trial, or does the district attorney have to prove that I didn’t act in self-defense?
Centre County Criminal Trial Attorney Self-defense, also called "justification" in Pennsylvania, is an affirmative defense, meaning that the person charged with Simple Assault or Aggravated Assault must present some evidence, from whatever source, to justify consideration of the self-defense issue at trial. Technically, the person charged with assault does not need to actually prove that he acted in self-defense, but the person must present some evidence that supports the defense in order to allow a judge or jury to consider the defense at trial. This means that the criminal defense attorney may present evidence, such as testimony from either the... Learn More
How can I be charged with assault if the victim did not suffer a bodily injury?
Many people mistakenly believe that grading and severity of assault charges are dependent upon whether or not the victim was hurt. A person can be charged with assault based upon the person's intent to cause either a "bodily injury" or "serious bodily injury." In some cases, a person charged with assault threatens the victim and thereby verbally provides direct evidence of intent. If the threat to harm another is not followed by any action to actually inflict the harm, then the person may not be charged with an assault but would instead by charged with terroristic threats.In most assault cases,... Learn More
I have never been in trouble before, am I eligible to participate in a first-time offender program like ARD for my assault charges?
State College First Time Offender Programs and Assault Charges It depends. While some Pennsylvania laws or rules do exclude some people from being eligible for ARD consideration, the majority of eligibility decisions regarding ARD are made by the district attorney for the county in which the charges are filed. As a general rule, relatively minor misdemeanor offenses such as Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana, Possession of Paraphernalia, Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, DUI, and some Theft cases are often eligible and approved for ARD if the ARD applicant is a first-time offender. In some situations and in some counties,... Learn More
How long will I lose my license for refusing a chemical test in a DUI case in Pennsylvania?
Generally, a person that refuses a chemical test may face two suspensions, a civil suspension solely based on refusing the test, and possibly a second suspension for criminal DUI charges. Generally, the civil, administrative suspension for a chemical test refusal is 12 months. However, the suspension length is increased to 18 months if the person had a prior suspension for refusing a chemical test, or if the person has been sentenced in the past for a prior DUI in Pennsylvania or an equivalent DUI offense in another state.With regard to the criminal DUI charges, if the person is convicted or... Learn More
What happens if I refuse chemical testing in a Pennsylvania DUI case?
A person that refuses to submit to chemical testing to determine alcohol concentration will often face two penalties: 1) a civil, administrative suspension of Pennsylvania driving privileges; and possibly 2) filing of criminal DUI charges.The administrative suspension only impacts a person's Pennsylvania driving privileges and is not a criminal conviction. After a person refuses to submit to chemical testing, the police officer completes a form and sends it to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). PennDOT then sends a letter advising of the effective date of suspension and duration of the suspension. The person is also advised of the right to... Learn More
Can I obtain a limited license that will allow me to drive to work, school, or to pick up my children?
Pennsylvania Occupational Limited LicenseMany people facing the administrative suspension for a chemical test refusal hope to obtain a limited license that would allow them to drive to and from work, school, medical appointments, and possibly to transport or pickup their children. Such a license, called an Occupation Limited License (OLL), is NOT primarily based upon need. Instead, the OLL law, contained in 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 1553, contains a list of people that cannot receive an OLL. Under section 1553(d)(7), a person serving a suspension for a chemical test refusal is NOT eligible to receive an OLL. It does not matter... Learn More
How can I be charged with driving under the influence when I refused the chemical test?
Many people mistakenly believe that they can avoid Pennsylvania Driving Under the Influence charges if they refuse a chemical test, be it a breath or blood test, that is used by the police to determine alcohol concentration. Most DUI charges are based upon the level of alcohol or drugs in a person's system, and the prosecution uses the results of the chemical test to prove the presence and precise concentration of drugs or alcohol in a person's system.General Impairment Driving Under the Influence ChargesThere are also DUI charges that do not require evidence of a specific level of drugs or... Learn More
How does a prosecutor prove general impairment DUI charges in chemical test refusal cases?
General impairment DUI charges are proven through circumstantial evidence. In many cases, the driver also admits to having consumed alcohol or having taken drugs. Depending upon the facts and circumstances, an admission to drinking can be suppressed in a DUI case, but, if the admission is not suppressed, the statement is damning evidence that the person drank alcohol or took drugs.With charges involving alcohol, the investigating officer often testifies about general signs of intoxication that were noted on the DUI suspect, such as an odor of alcohol on breath; bloodshot, glassy eyes; slurred speech; difficulty standing or swaying; and fumbling or... Learn More
Can I negotiate with PennDOT to reduce the civil suspension or obtain a limited license to drive to and from work or school?
Mandatory, Non-negotiable Suspension of LicenseWhen a person refuses chemical testing, the investigating officer sends a form to PennDOT, and PennDOT is required by law to impose a suspension of Pennsylvania driving privileges. When a person is charged with criminal offenses, there are times in which plea agreements can be reached to reduce the severity of DUI charges and thereby reduce license suspensions. The administrative suspension imposed by PennDOT is completely different as PennDOT does NOT negotiate or reduce license suspensions.When PennDOT receives the chemical testing refusal form, they simply mail a letter to the driver advising of the suspension length.... Learn More
Why are my Pennsylvania driving privileges being suspended for my drug conviction when the conviction had nothing to do with a car?
Driving Privileges SuspendedUnder section 1532(c) of the Vehicle Code, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) is required to suspend a person's Pennsylvania driving privileges if they are convicted "of any offense involving the possession, sale, delivery, offering for sale, holding for sale or giving away of any controlled substance." The language used in the law is very broad and basically covers any conviction related to drugs. Pennsylvania courts have held that convictions of conspiracy to possess or delivery fall under section 1532(c) and allow for the suspension of driving privileges.The duration of the suspension is based upon number of prior... Learn More
Marijuana is legal in the state in which I reside and I have a permit to possess it, so I how can I be charged with illegal possession of marijuana in Pennsylvania?
Possession of Marijuana Attorney State College By Jason Dunkle on G+ Every state has criminal laws that control what can and cannot be done within that state's boundaries. While marijuana possession and use is legal in some states, possession is not permitted in the state of Pennsylvania. Even if a person has a valid prescription for marijuana in California, said prescription does not permit a person to possess marijuana in the state of Pennsylvania. Under Pennsylvania law, it is a misdemeanor offense to possess marijuana, and whether or not a person is prosecuted is at the discretion of the prosecution... Learn More
Can I participate I get ARD for a felony drug charge?
ARD for a felony drug case? Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) is a pretrial diversionary programs in Pennsylvania that allows a person to obtain a dismissal and an expungement of all charges in a criminal case. The program basically requires a person to accept a punishment from the court, and upon completion of the punishment, the charges can be dismissed and then expunged. Most county courts do NOT expunge a record for the person. Instead, the person must go through the expungement process. People facing a felony drug charge would often love to be admitted into ARD or PWOV, but that... Learn More
How can I be charged with possession with intent to deliver when the police only found a small amount of drugs?
Felony Intent to Deliver versus Misdemeanor Personal Use The key distinction between a misdemeanor and felony drug possession charge is the person's intent, meaning did the person possess the drug with the intent to ingest or use it OR did the person possess the drug with the intent to deliver it to someone else. The former is a misdemeanor offense, whereas the latter is a felony charge. The quantity of the drug is a huge factor that is considered in determining whether or not a person possessed for personal use or for distribution, but quantity is only one factor. Other... Learn More
I received notification from PennDOT that my Pennsylvania driving privileges are being suspended because of a drug conviction, but, since I need my license to drive to work, should I file an appeal?
Appealing Suspension of Driving PrivilegesGenerally speaking, the answer is no. When people receive the initial letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) advising of the pending license suspension, many people believe or hope that they can file an appeal, appear at the appeal hearing, and reach an agreement with the PennDOT attorney or the judge to reduce or avoid the suspension. In the alternative, they hope to obtain a limited license to allow for driving privileges to and from work, school, or medical appointments. Regrettably, appeals of license suspensions do not work that way. The license suspension for drug possession... Learn More
Is an officer’s belief or suspicion that an odor of marijuana was coming from a Penn State dorm room or State College apartment sufficient “probable cause” to justify issuance of a search warrant?
Possession of Marijuana Criminal Defense AttorneyBoth the Pennsylvania and United States Supreme Courts have held that the odor of marijuana is sufficient to allow the police to request and receive a search warrant. More specifically, in 1948, the United States Supreme Court stated in the case of Johnson v.United States that "if the presence of odors is testified to before a magistrate and he finds the affiant qualified to know the odor, and it is one sufficiently distinctive to identify a forbidden substance, this Court has never held such a basis insufficient to justify issuance of a search warrant." Penn... Learn More
How can my Pennsylvania driving privileges be suspended for a conviction in a drug possession case when I was not driving or around a vehicle?
Pennsylvania Driving Privileges Suspension Lawyer By Jason Dunkle on G+ Many people expect to face a license suspension in a DUI case because they were driving a vehicle, but many people are surprised to find out that a conviction of a drug possession related offense also results in a Pennsylvania license suspension. In some cases, the suspension comes as a surprise because neither the judge nor attorneys informed the person of the suspension. Instead, the person became aware of the suspension a few months after sentencing when they received a letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). Mandatory Suspension... Learn More
How can the district attorney attempt forfeit money that they cannot prove was the proceeds of illegal activity?
Attempt Forfeit MoneyIn some drug delivery cases, the district attorney or Attorney General seeks to forfeit property that is believed to have been used in relation to drug activity. Forfeiture is a civil proceeding in which the state attempts to take title or ownership of property based upon the property's relation to criminal activity. For example, if a car were used to transport drugs from one location to another, or if marijuana was grown in a house, the district attorney may seek to forfeit the car and the house as those items were used to facilitate a crime.Another example of... Learn More
How can the police obtain a search warrant to search an entire house, apartment, or Penn State dorm room when drugs or drug paraphernalia were only observed in one room?
Penn State Criminal Defense Lawyer By Jason Dunkle on G+ Generally, the police are permitted to seek and obtain a search warrant that allows them to search an entire single unit dwelling. For example, if the police smell the odor of marijuana coming from a Penn State dorm room, they can obtain a warrant to search the entire dorm room. If the police arrive at an apartment party and see a marijuana pipe on the kitchen counter, they can obtain a warrant to search the entire apartment. While such searches are generally permitted, issues can arise if the apartment or... Learn More
How can I be charged with possession of alcohol by a minor when the officer did not test the liquid?
Pennsylvania law prohibits a minor, meaning someone under the age of 21, from possessing "any liquor or malt or brewed beverages." Section 6310.6 of the Crimes Code defines both "liquor" and "malt or brewed beverages," and both definitions require that the liquids "contain more than 0.50% of alcohol by volume." This means that in order to be convicted of underage possession of alcohol, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the minor possessed alcohol that was .50% of alcohol. Many people, including some attorneys, believe that the police must send a liquid to a forensic lab for testing... Learn More
How can I be charged with possession of drugs or paraphernalia when I was not present at my apartment when the search warrant was executed and the items were discovered?
Centre County Possession of Drugs LawyerPolice officers routinely search residences and apartments for drugs and paraphernalia when few or any residents are present after securing search warrants. If drugs, paraphernalia, or other contraband is found, the police often charge some or all of the residents with possession. A common situation occurs when State College or Penn State police search a dorm room or apartment and find drugs or paraphernalia. If the contraband is found in a bedroom or on one roommate's side of the room, then the police look for evidence as to identity of the occupant of the room... Learn More
How can I be charged with possession of drugs or paraphernalia when nothing was found on me and there is no proof that it belongs to me?
Pennsylvania Misdemeanor Drug Possession LawyerUnder Pennsylvania law, there are two types of possession, actual and constructive. Actual possession is when something is found on a person, such as a wallet being found in a person's pocket. Constructive possession means that a person was aware of the existence of an item and had the ability to exercise dominion or control over that item. As an example of constructive possession that routinely happens in a State College apartment or in a Penn State University dorm room, assume law enforcement obtain lawful entry into the apartment or dorm room and find numerous individuals... Learn More
How can I be charged with a felony when I was only growing marijuana plants for personal use?
With a general charge of possession of a drug, if the drug is possessed for personal use, then it is graded as a misdemeanor offense. If the district attorney believes that the possession was with the intent to deliver the drug, then the offense is graded as a felony charge. While the "personal use" or "intent to deliver" issue is very important in a felony case of Possession With Intent to Deliver, such a distinction does not matter with a charge of manufacturing. Growing marijuana is considered to be "manufacturing" and is automatically a felony offense. It does not matter... Learn More
How can I be charged with delivery of drugs when the only witness was a confidential informant?
Being Charged with Delivery of DrugsWhile it may not seem fair or appropriate, criminal charges can be based upon the testimony of another person. Many cases are "he said, she said" or "he said, he said" types of cases. Also, most drug delivery cases are not based solely upon the testimony of confidential informants. Many drug delivery cases in Centre County are the products of "controlled buys" of drugs from drug delivery targets. A controlled buy of drugs is a purchase of drugs by an undercover police officer or confidential informant at the direction and supervision of the police. Basically,... Learn More
How can I be charged with selling drugs when I did not receive any money?
Drug Delivery and NOT Sale Everyone knows that it is illegal to sell drugs, but some people mistakenly believe that it is the sale and not just the delivery or giving of drugs to another person that is the criminal act. This leads people to believe that the police must have evidence that money was exchanged during a drug delivery. That is simply not the law. The law punishes the delivery or distribution of drugs and does not focus on whether or not the drugs were sold or given in exchange for money or property. The criminal charge in Pennsylvania... Learn More
How can I be charged with drug delivery if the police do not have the drugs and thereby could not test them?
What if the Police do not Have the Drugs?In a typical felony drug delivery case, the target of the police investigation delivers a drug, such as marijuana or cocaine, to a confidential informant or undercover police officer. The drug is then sent to a police forensic laboratory for testing and confirmation that the drug is a controlled substance. Some people believe that a charge of delivery cannot be filed or prosecuted by the district attorney if the police do not have a drug to forensically test. A person can be prosecuted based on testimony from a confidential informant.In a Pennsylvania... Learn More
Can I have a felony drug conviction expunged?
For practical purposes, the answer is no. The exungement process in Pennsylvania is NOT based upon need or want. A felony conviction may prevent a person from getting a job, but that does not mean that the person can obtain an expungement. In order to seek an expungement, the law must expressly allow it. The expungement law in Pennsylvania allows a felony to be expunged ONLY if a person has been dead for 3 years OR if the person is 70 years old and has been free of arrest and prosecution for ten years following final release from confinement or... Learn More
Do I have to complete field sobriety tests during a DUI stop in Pennsylvania
During a drunk driving investigation, before an officer makes the decision whether or not to arrest a driver, the officer often requests that the driver submits to field sobriety tests. Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) include the One-Legged Stand, the Walk-and-Turn, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. Such tests are used by the officer to determine whether or not there is probable cause to arrest the driver and require the driver to submit to a chemical test to determine the blood alcohol concentration of the driver. While the Implied Consent Law does allow an officer to mandate that a driver submits... Learn More
Do the penalties for misdemeanor possession vary depending upon the type of drug involved?
Centre County Drug Possession Attorney By Jason Dunkle on G+ In Pennsylvania, one law prohibits the possession of all types of drugs and grades the offense as a misdemeanor. This misdemeanor drug offense carries a maximum sentence of one (1) year incarceration, a $5,000.00 fine, and a suspension of Pennsylvania driving privileges. If the drug involved is marijuana and the quantity is less than thirty (30) grams, the police may file a slightly less severe misdemeanor possession offense that carries a maximum sentence of thirty (30) days incarceration, a $500.00 fine, and a suspension of Pennsylvania driving privileges. Aside from... Learn More
Am I permitted to have a firearm if I am convicted of a delivery or possession with intent to deliver?
Pennsylvania Drug Delivery Defense LawyerNo, you are not allowed to have a firearm if you have been convicted of delivery or possession with intent to deliver in Pennsylvania. Section 6105 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code expressly prohibits a person convicted of a charge under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act that have a maximum sentence exceeding two years from possessing, using, manufacturing, controlling, selling, or transferring firearms. The prohibition is a lifetime prohibition. The only way to eliminate the lifetime prohibition is to have the conviction set aside by the government via a pardon.Serious Consequences for members of... Learn More
What are the ARD requirements for a DUI offense?
The basic idea behind the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program is that person pleads "not guilty" to the DUI charges, but the person agrees to comply with certain rules and complete requirements in order to complete the ARD program. Upon completion, the person can go through the expungement process to have the DUI charges removed from the criminal record, but a notation WILL remain on the person's driving record to track the ARD resolution as being a "prior offense" of DUI in Pennsylvania. In order to get the charges the dismissed, the person must successfully complete ARD. ARD Requirements for... Learn More
Why should I consult or hire a lawyer when my blood alcohol level was above the legal limit, so I am clearly guilty of the DUI offense?
Guilty of a DUI Another commonly held misconception is that a person charged with DUI cannot challenge a case if he or she submitted to a blood test. Admittedly, cases in which the DUI suspect submitted to a blood test and the test evidences a blood alcohol or controlled substance concentration above legal limits are difficult to defend. Generally, in order to win these cases, the defense lawyer must keep the test results from being admitted into evidence at trial. In some cases, the defense attorney may file a pre-trial motion and seek suppression of evidence by arguing that the... Learn More
The officer told me that I would get ARD for my DUI charges, so why should I talk to or hire a DUI defense lawyer?
DUI Defense Attorney The better question is why would you not talk to a lawyer when you are charged with a criminal offense. First, most Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyers offer free consultations, so it will not cost you anything to have an experienced Centre County DUI attorney review your case. Second, while the officer may have been nice, the officer's primary role in the criminal process is to assist the district attorney with the prosecution of the charges against you. If the officer was really that "nice," then why were you charged with DUI as opposed to being driven home... Learn More
What happens if I violate the conditions of the ARD program or fail to complete the requirements?
Failure to Complete Requirements When the judge formally admits a person into the ARD program for a DUI offense, the judge orders that you complete certain requirements and comply with certain conditions. The probation department is often responsible for informing you about the details of what is required and expected of you with regard to your ARD program. If you fail to complete the requirements or violate the conditions of ARD for a DUI case, the district attorney may seek to have you removed from the ARD program by a judge. A failure to successfully complete ARD can prohibit you... Learn More
I was arrested last night for a suspected DUI, submitted to a blood test after being taken to the hospital, but the officer released me without filing any charges or giving me any paperwork. Am I going to be charged with DUI?
Being Released with No Charges Most Centre County DUI cases and DUI cases across Pennsylvania occur in the above referenced manner. Whether or not the DUI suspect will be charged with DUI charges is often dependent upon the results of the blood alcohol test. If the DUI suspect's blood alcohol concentration is above the legal limit, then it is highly likely that DUI charges will be filed. Generally, since DUI charges in Pennsylvania are misdemeanor offenses, the charges are filed with a Magisterial District Judge and then issued by a Writ of Summons. This simply means that the charges and... Learn More
How can the police officer charge me with DUI when they did not see me driving?
While we generally refer to the offense of DUI as Driving Under the Influence, Pennsylvania law actually prohibits a person from driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle after consuming a sufficient amount of drugs or alcohol. The phrase "actual physical control" is not defined in the DUI law but has been explained in many Pennsylvania cases. For example, a person was found to be in actual physical control of a vehicle to justify a DUI charge when the car was parked on the berm of a road approximately fifty yards from the... Learn More
Can I have the charges dismissed because the officer did not tell me why I was being arrested and did not Mirandize me?
Officer Failed to Mirandize You In a typical Centre County DUI case, the police stop a vehicle, order the person to exit the vehicle, administer field sobriety tests, possibly issue a breath test at the scene, arrest the person, take them to the hospital to submit to a blood test, transport them to the processing center for fingerprints and mugshots, and then released the person. and then make the decision to arrest the DUI suspect and transport them for either a blood or breath test to determine blood alcohol concentration. It is very rare that the officer will issue Miranda... Learn More
Does completion of ARD for my DUI offense automatically result in the expungement of the charges from my record?
Expungement of Charges for Completion Successful completion of ARD gives a person charged with DUI the ability to have charges dismissed and expunged. Many people make the mistake of believing that the court or probation department will complete the dismissal and expungement process for them. Centre County, like most counties in Pennsylvania, do not complete the expungement process for a DUI defendant. Instead, the person must file a Motion to Dismiss, and, upon having the charges dismissed, a Petition to Expunge must be filed to have the dismissed DUI charges expunged. If the appropriate paperwork is not filed, then, not... Learn More
Can I avoid having my license suspended for my DUI charge by participating in ARD or am I eligible for a bread and butter license?
DUI License Suspension Law Firm While participation in ARD can avoid a conviction of the Pennsylvania Driving Under the Influence offense for most purposes, participation in ARD for a DUI offense does result in a suspension of Pennsylvania driving privileges for most people. Suspensions of driving privileges for participating in the ARD program for a DUI are mandatory, meaning a judge does not have discretion to consider every case individually and impose a suspension length that the judge deems to be appropriate. How long will my Pennsylvania license be suspended by participating in ARD for a DUI? Generally speaking, the... Learn More
What Are Field Sobriety Tests?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website, NHTSA sponsored research that led to the development of field sobriety tests in 1975 and those tests have been used in driving under the influence investigations since 1981. In a DUI investigation, the police often administer Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) to develop probable cause and basically determine whether or not the driver is going to be arrested and required to submit to blood alcohol testing. The tests consist of the Walk-and-Turn, the One Legged Stand, and the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN). The HGN or eye test is an involuntary... Learn More
I have a prior DUI, but the officer only charged me with a first offense DUI. Did the officer make a mistake and can the charge be changed in the future?
First Offense DUIIn Centre County, most, if not all, DUI charges are filed as first offenses on the Police Criminal Complaint that is filed by the officer with the district court. For people that have prior offenses of DUI within the last ten years, they are happy to see that the charge is a "first offense" and hope that neither the police nor the district attorney discovers the error. The first and most important issue to address is that a person charged with DUI should NOT tell the police officer about prior offenses. In the criminal system, a person is... Learn More
I was told that my DUI charges were expunged after I completed ARD, but the DUI charges appeared on a criminal background search. How could this happen and what can be done?
Charges on a Criminal Background SearchThe prosecuting attorney, the Pennsylvania State Police central repository, and the court are permitted to retain the names and criminal history record information of people charged with DUI and other criminal offenses that completed a pretrial or post-trial diversion or probation program and the court has ordered expungement of the records. The information is only to be used for purposes of determining eligibility for programs such as ARD in the future, identifying persons in criminal investigations, or for determining the grading of subsequent offenses. The information is available to any court or law enforcement agency... Learn More
How can the police charge me with a DUI when I refused the blood test or when my blood alcohol concentration was below the legal limit?
Being Charged with a DUIWhile DUI charges in Centre County are often based upon the amount of alcohol or controlled substances in a person's blood, Pennsylvania law allows an officer to file a charge that alleges that the DUI suspect had consumed or ingested a sufficient amount of alcohol or controlled substance so that the suspect was rendered incapable of driving safely. In a case in which the DUI suspect refused to submit to a blood test, the officer would not have direct evidence of the amount of alcohol or controlled substance in the DUI suspect's blood, but the officer... Learn More
How can I be charged with DUI when I was riding a bike and not driving a vehicle?
Some Penn State students and State College residents believe that they are doing the right thing by riding their bike home instead of getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after a night of drinking alcohol. The Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, which includes the DUI law, prohibits a person from violating the traffic laws while driving or operating a "vehicle." The term "vehicle" is defined in the Vehicle Code as a device upon which any person may be transported, which would include a bike. Penn State students often use bikes, skateboards and other alternative transportation methods to travel to and from... Learn More
How can I be charged with a DUI if I was driving on private property and not on a highway?
The majority of Pennsylvania traffic laws, like stopping at stop signs and using turn signals when turning, only apply when a person is driving on a "highway." The technical definition of "highway" is the "entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel" and includes "a roadway open to the use of the public for vehicular travel on grounds of a college or university or public or private school or public or historical park." (See 75 Pa.C.S.A. 102). What does this... Learn More
How can I be charged with DUI when I only took prescription medications or took lawful over-the-counter medications?
Getting Charged While Taking Legal MedicationsThe DUI law in Pennsylvania prohibits an individual from being under the influence of a drug or combination of drugs to a degree which impairs the individual's ability to safely drive or operate a vehicle. Many common prescription and over-the-counter drugs can cause impairment and affect a person's ability to drive. If an officer believes that driver impairment is caused by drug use, the officer will often question the person about the types and amounts of medications and may thereafter request that the person submits to a blood test. If the officer believes that the... Learn More
Do the Police Need Probable Cause to Conduct a Traffic Stop?
On behalf of Jason Dunkle at JD Law PC The answer is that it depends upon the violation for which the police are conducting a traffic stop. Pennsylvania law actually states that a police officer can conduct a traffic stop if the officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that a violation of the Vehicle Code has occurred (See 75 Pa.C.S. § 6308(b)). Reasonable suspicion is a slightly lower standard when compared to probable cause, which means that a lower burden of cause is required to conduct a traffic stop under reasonable suspicion when compared to probable cause. While the law says... Learn More
How can I be charged with a “drug DUI” when I had used the drugs days before driving and thereby was not “under the influence” when I drove?
Not Currently "Under the Influence"Pennsylvania's DUI law prohibits a person from driving, operating, or being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle with any amount of a Schedule I, II, or III controlled substance or a metabolite of such substance in his or her blood. While the DUI law prohibits a person from having "any amount" of a controlled substance in the blood, the Department of Health is actually required to prescribe minimum levels of controlled substances that must be found in the blood for the test results to be admissible in a DUI prosecution. The minimum levels of... Learn More
Can I have the DUI charge expunged from my Pennsylvania driving record?
Successful completion of ARD generally allows a person to have the charges dismissed and expunged if the appropriate paperwork is filed with the court. In DUI cases, the criminal record can be expunged but a notation of participation in the ARD program does remain on a person's Pennsylvania driving record for at least the next 10 years. ARD Counts as Prior Offense of DUI Participation in the ARD program counts as a "prior offense" of DUI in Pennsylvania. Therefore, if a person violates the Pennsylvania DUI law within 10 years of the date of ARD acceptance for a prior DUI,... Learn More
Is it legal to turn away from a Pennsylvania DUI checkpoint
Yes. A driver is permitted to turn away from or avoid driving through a DUI checkpoint as long as he or she does so in a lawful manner and before actually entering the checkpoint. In the case of Commonwealth v. Scavello, 734 A.2d 386 (Pa. 1999), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court discussed this very issue in a case in which a driver made a lawful U-turn to avoid entering a checkpoint. An officer stopped the driver solely because the driver had turned away from the checkpoint, and the officer discovered that the driver was underage and had been drinking. The driver... Learn More
What is an Order for Limited Access?
Sealing a Criminal Record - Order for Limited Access In Pennsylvania, an Order for Limited Access is basically what other states call the "sealing" of a record, meaning a record of the convictions still exist, but the records are not publicly accessible. Therefore, if a person obtains an Order for Limited Access, then the prior convictions should be sealed and thereby should not appear on criminal background searches. Section 9121(b)(3) of the Crimes Code discus the Order for Limited Access expressly states that a “court or the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts may not disseminate to an individual, a noncriminal... Learn More
Can I seal my record in Pennsylvania?
Seal a Pennsylvania Record - Order for Limited Access Eligibility A criminal record can prevent a person from getting a job, so many people want to know if they can get rid of a record through an expungement or sealing of the record. In Pennsylvania, a person convicted of a misdemeanor offense normally cannot obtain an expungement of the records. The next best thing to an expungement is to have the record sealed from public view, which requires a person to obtain an Order for Limited Access. Orders for Limited Access are not granted upon the need of a person, meaning a... Learn More
How do I seal a criminal record in Pennsylvania?
Sealing a Pennsylvania Criminal Record In order to seal a criminal record from public view in Pennsylvania, a person would need to obtain an Order for Limited Access. If a record is sealed, it means that the record is not publicly accessible and should not appear on future criminal background searches conducted by employers or landlords. While everybody wants to seal a criminal record, not every person with a conviction is eligible to obtain an Order for Limited Access. For example, in Pennsylvania, a person with a felony conviction can NOT obtain an Order for Limited Access, and the only... Learn More
What is the difference between an expungement and the sealing a record?
Expungement or Sealing a Record in Pennsylvania An expungement is better than the sealing of a record because an expungement results in the destruction of records. If something is destroyed, then no one can see it. With the sealing of a record, the record still exists, but the record cannot be viewed by some people, primarily the public. When a record is sealed, it is not publicly accessible, so it would not appear on background searches conducted by employers, but the record can be viewed by law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges. Why is an expungement better than the sealing of... Learn More
How does the expungement process work in Pennsylvania?
Not everyone is able to obtain an expungement. The granting of an expungement is based upon legal eligibility and NOT need based, meaning the fact that you cannot obtain a job, cannot obtain an apartment, or the record is somehow holding you back does not matter. While a judge may feel bad that a prior record is preventing a person from getting a job and supporting a family, the judge is not permitted by law to grant an expungement unless the person is legally eligible. Am I Eligible to Seek Expungement? Step one in the expungement process is to determine... Learn More
Can I expunge my driving record in Pennsylvania?
In most situations, the answer is no. In order to be eligible to expunge a record, the law must expressly permit it, meaning a person cannot simply file an expungement petition, appear before a judge, and explain to the judge why the person needs to have a record expunged. Many people believe that a judge has the ability to order an expungement whenever the judge deems that it is appropriate. Regrettably, a judge's power is limited by Pennsylvania law, and the law only allows a judge to expunge records in certain circumstances. Judges are not permitted to consider a person's... Learn More
If I am required to report that I was charged with a criminal offense even if the charge was later expunged, then why should I bother having the matter expunged?
Pennsylvania Criminal Charge Expungement Lawyer A person should seek expungement of dismissed charges as soon as such a person is eligible to have them expunged. The sooner that the charges are expunged, the less likely it is that the government records will be obtained by private background search companies, so the less likely it is that the charges will appear on criminal background searches. If a person charged with a criminal offense was able to avoid a conviction and have the charges dismissed, the person would often not need to self-report on an employment application as such applications generally only... Learn More
If the charge is expunged, do I need to report that I was charged or convicted of the offense?
Pennsylvania Expungement Lawyer Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys disagree on this issue. Some defense attorneys believe that an expungement and the destruction of the government records allow a person to treat the offense as if it never happened. State College criminal defense attorney Jason S. Dunkle believes that an expungement may result in the destruction of government records, but it does not change history, meaning it does not change what happened with the case. Expungements of criminal charges are generally permitted under section 9122 of the Crimes Code. Section 9102 defines the term "expunge" as "to remove information so that there... Learn More
Why did my expunged charge still appear on a background check?
Centre County Expungement Lawyer In the past, background search information was not obtained until a prospective employer requested information on a particular person, and the request triggered a search of government records. Now, many Internet background search companies upload the entire database of criminal cases such as misdemeanor Possession of Drugs, Furnishing Alcohol to Minors, Simple Assault, and even summary offenses like Underage Drinking from the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts (AOPC). The company then has the records of all persons charged in Pennsylvania before a specific request for information about a particular person is made. When a request for... Learn More
Can I have a conviction or guilty plea to a summary offense expunged?
State College Summary Offense Expungement Lawyer Section 9122 of the Crimes Code allows for the expungement of summary offenses IF the person "has been free of arrest or prosecution for five years following the conviction for that offense." Basically, if a person has stayed out of trouble for five years, he or she is eligible to have a summary conviction expunged. Again, eligibility simply allows a person to file an expungement petition, and to have a judge consider the request and render a decision. The expungement law expressly provides that such criminal history "may" be expunged, meaning a judge may... Learn More
Can I expunge a felony or misdemeanor conviction from my record?
Criminal records can often prohibit a person from obtaining a good job and thereby supporting a family. Criminal records can also place limitations on a person's constitutional rights, such as prohibiting a person from possessing a firearm. Regrettably, under current Pennsylvania law, a person with a felon conviction cannot expunge or even seal the record. Expungements of misdemeanor convictions are only permitted in very limited circumstances. The Pennsylvania expungement law only allows for a misdemeanor conviction to be expunged if the person is over 70 and has been arrest free for 10 years or if the person has been dead for... Learn More
How can a judge deny my expungement request when the law says that I am eligible for expungement?
Centre County Expungement Law Firm Expungement eligibility does not mean that an expungement is mandatory. If a person is eligible to have a charge expunged, the person must file an expungement petition with the Clerk of Courts or Prothonotary in the county in which the case was filed. Eligibility is needed to be able to file an expungement petition and thereby have a judge consider the request. Most expungements are discretionary, meaning a judge has to consider various factors and determine whether or not to grant the expungement request. Most expungements are not mandatory, meaning a person is generally not... Learn More
Can a charge of Underage Drinking be expunged from the records?
State College Underage Drinking Charge Expungement Attorney Generally, a charge of Underage Drinking can be expunged under two subsections of section 9122 of the Crimes Code. One subsection allows for the expungement of "non-conviction" data, meaning charges that have been dismissed, withdrawn, or the person was found not guilty. The other subsection allows the expungement of convictions and guilty pleas of Underage Drinking after the person has turned 21-years-old and successfully completed the sentence. Expungement of Dismissed Charges As an attorney near Penn State University, I see many cases in which students and parents mistakenly think that a charge that... Learn More
If the underage person lied to me, told me he over 21, and provided me with a false identification card, how can I be charged with Furnishing Alcohol to Minors?
Lying About AgeIn Centre County, when the police decide to file charges in a furnishing alcohol to minors incident, they generally file two charges, one under the Crimes Code and one under the Liquor Code. While the Crimes Code Furnishing Alcohol to Minors charge requires proof that the furnisher knew that the recipient was underage, the Liquor Code does not require such proof. If the suspected furnisher was provided with a false identification card by the underage person, then the furnisher may have a defense against the Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor under the Crimes Code as the furnisher can... Learn More
Since I was charged because of a “Cops-In-Shops” program, can I proceed to trial and argue that I was entrapped?
"Cops-in-Shops"In Centre County, Furnishing Alcohol to Minors cases often arise from Underage Drinking parties or from "Cops-In-Shops" programs in which undercover police officers conduct surveillance in State College six pack shops and liquor stores. With regard to the undercover operations, the police are generally looking for a carload of people arriving at the store, but only the passenger enters the store to purchase alcohol. In some situations, the police observe the transfer of money from the driver to the passenger that enters the store and buys the alcohol. After the alcohol is purchased, the police follow the vehicle as it... Learn More
While I hosted a party, the party was BYOB, so all of my underage friends brought their own alcohol. How can I be charged with Furnishing Alcohol to Minors?
The Party was BYOBSome people assume that they can host an underage drinking party and avoid being charged with Furnishing Alcohol to Minors by having all the underage people bring their own alcohol to the party. While the term "furnish" makes ones think that a person must supply or give alcohol to an underage person, Pennsylvania law actually defines "furnishing" much more broadly. Section 6310.6 of the Crimes Code defines "furnishing" as "to supply, give or provide to, or allow a minor to possess on premises or property owned or controlled by the person charged." Since "furnishing" includes simply allowing... Learn More
How can I be charged with Furnishing Alcohol to Minors if the only witnesses were underage people that were drunk at the party?
Underage WitnessesMany people question how a person can be charged with Furnishing Alcohol to Minors when the only witnesses for the prosecution are underage drinkers from the party that had obviously been intoxicated when they were interviewed by the police. In this scenario, the underage drinkers are often given a "cooperation" discount and may not even be charged with Underage Drinking as long as they are willing to testify against the alleged furnisher. While this scenario may not be fair, it is fairly common. The fact that the underage people were intoxicated and were also breaking the law does not... Learn More
How can I be charged with Furnishing when I was just present at the party that was hosted by my roommates?
The Party was Hosted by RoommatesThe Superior Court considered and rejected this exact argument in an appeal of a Centre County Furnishing Alcohol to Minors case involving a Penn State student. The charge of Furnishing Alcohol to Minors prohibits a person from "furnishing" alcohol to an underage person, and "furnishing" is defined in section 6310.6 of the Crimes Code as "supply, give or provide to, or allow a minor to possess on premises or property owned or controlled by the person charged." In Commonwealth v. Lawson, the Centre County criminal defense lawyer argued that the Penn State student charged with... Learn More
How can the police prove that I knew that the underage person was not 21 years old and thereby prove me guilty of Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor?
Sufficiency of Evidence - Knowledge of AgeThe Pennsylvania Supreme Court expressly held in Commonwealth v. Scolieri that the prosecution attorney must prove that the person charged with Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor knew that the person furnished was underage. There are two issues that arise: 1) knowledge can be proven through circumstantial evidence; and 2) the police often file both the Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor charge under the Crimes Code and the Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor charge under the Liquor Code.The district attorney can generally only prove that a person knew that the person furnished was underage with... Learn More
How can I be charged with Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor when none of the underage people were charged?
No One Else ChargedMany furnishing suspects erroneously believe that the police must charge someone with underage drinking in order to have sufficient evidence to file charges related to furnishing alcohol to a minor. The police do need to have evidence that an underage person was furnished with alcohol by the suspected furnisher, but the police do not have to file charges against the underage person. To the contrary, in many cases, the police intentionally do not file charges against the underage person to give the underage person the incentive to testify against the furnisher. Basically, the underage person often receives... Learn More
How can I be charged with Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor when the police did not seize the “alcohol” and have it tested?
Testing the AlcoholThe Furnishing Alcohol to Minors charge prohibits a person from furnishing "any liquor or malt or brewed beverage." "Liquor" and "malt or brewed beverage" are both defined in section 6310.6 of the Crimes Code and both basically are beverages that contain 0.50% or more of alcohol by volume. In the past, in a Furnishing Alcohol to Minors case, the court generally did require that the beverage was tested so that the prosecution attorney had direct evidence that the beverage was 0.50% or more of alcohol by volume. The Pennsylvania Legislature then passed section 6312 of the Vehicle Code... Learn More
What are the penalties for Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor?
Charges of Underage Drinking and Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor go hand-in-hand, like peanut butter and jelly. Many people assume that because the charges are so closely associated with one another that the charges would be treated the same in the criminal justice system. People also assume that because almost every drinks underage at college, that a charge of Furnishing Alcohol to Minors is not a big deal. Regrettably, the person that provides alcohol to a minor is in much more trouble than the person drinking that alcohol. Underage Drinking is a summary offense, but Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor... Learn More
How can I be charged with Furnishing Alcohol to Minors when I am underage myself?
Some people believe that an underage person cannot be charged with furnishing alcohol to a minor because the underage person is not lawfully permitted to possess the alcohol. Years ago, this precise argument was made by a Centre County defense attorney, and this arguments was rejected by the Superior Court of Pennsylvania in the case of Commonwealth v. Lawson. The charge of Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor, found in Pennsylvania law at 18 Pa.C.S. 6310.1, states that a "person commits a misdemeanor of the third degree if he intentionally and knowingly sells or intentionally and knowingly furnishes, or purchases with... Learn More
Will an Underage Drinking charge appear on criminal background searches?
In Pennsylvania, a charge of Underage Drinking can be found in a government database that is free and readily available to the public. When a Penn State student is charged with Underage Drinking, the citation is filed in a Magisterial District Court in State College, and a docket sheet of the case can be found in the database. Many of the background search companies that you can locate through the Internet upload the database and either provide the information for free on their site or sell it to subscribers. In the past, background search information was not obtained until a... Learn More
Is Underage Drinking a “criminal offense” that should be reported on employment or academic applications?
While the Underage Drinking charge is only a summary offense, it is included in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, and therefore many attorneys believe that it does constitute a "criminal offense" for employment and educational application question purposes. Criminal defense attorneys across Pennsylvania debate whether or not the Underage Drinking charge is a "criminal offense." The debates amongst lawyers often do not matter as it is more important to consider how the person or entity asking the question defines "criminal offense." Many applications expressly state that a person need not report minor traffic convictions, so such applications make it clear the... Learn More
I have an out-of-state license, so how can Pennsylvania suspend my license or driving privileges?
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has the authority to dictate who is lawfully permitted to drive on Pennsylvania roadways. Pennsylvania residents are required to obtain a Pennsylvania driver's license, and a suspension of driving privileges requires a Pennsylvania resident to surrender the physical license to (PennDOT) in order to receive credit towards the suspension. In such a scenario, the person does not have a valid license and thereby cannot drive anywhere. With regard to out-of-state residents, Pennsylvania CAN suspend such a person's privilege to drive in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania can NOT take or suspend an out-of-state license, but PennDOT can... Learn More
Should I expunge an Underage Drinking conviction?
Why Bother Having an Underage Drinking Conviction Expunged In Pennsylvania, Underage Drinking is only a summary offense, so NOT a misdemeanor or felony, which means that the conviction often is not viewed in a very negative light by most employers. While the Underage Drinking charge is only a summary offense, it is included in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, and therefore many employers would consider the charge to be a "criminal offense." Therefore, if an employment application required a person to report all prior convictions for "any criminal offense," the applicant should report a conviction of Underage Drinking. Many employment applications... Learn More
How can I be charged with Underage Drinking when I was not given a breath or blood test?
Many people assume that the police must have direct evidence of alcohol consumption, such as a blood or breath test, in order to file an Underage Drinking citation. While direct evidence of guilt is preferred by the police, a judge can find a person guilty of an offense based solely upon circumstantial evidence. The vast majority of Centre County Underage Drinking cases are based upon circumstantial evidence of intoxication, such as the odor of alcohol on a person's breath or body, bloodshot or glassy eyes, slurred speech, difficulty standing, swaying, and torn clothing. The basic premise is that if the... Learn More
How can I be charged with Underage Drinking when I was only holding a beer for someone else and no one saw me drinking?
This question routinely arises in two situations in State College: 1) after a Penn State student is observed by an officer outside a Penn State football game holding a can of beer, and the person is charged with Underage Drinking; and 2) when the State College Police respond to a noise violation at a State College apartment, stumble upon an underage drinking party, and issue citations to people sitting around a coffee table covered in beer cans. People wonder how an underage person can be charged with Underage Drinking in either scenario. While we generally refer to the charge as... Learn More
How severe is a charge of Underage Drinking and what are the penalties?
In Pennsylvania, the charge of Underage Drinking, 18 Pa.C.S.A 6308, is classified as a non-traffic summary offense. While a summary offense is not as severe as a felony or misdemeanor charge, a conviction of Underage Drinking could result in a period of incarceration, a hefty fine, and will result in a suspension of Pennsylvania driving privileges. For the first offense of Underage Drinking, the maximum sentence is 90 days of incarceration, a $500.00 fine, and a 90-day suspension of Pennsylvania driving privileges. For subsequent offenses of Underage Drinking, the maximum fine permitted by law increases to $1,000.00, and the suspension increases... Learn More
Can I talk to the judge about reducing or eliminating the suspension of driving privileges?
In Underage Drinking cases, many people are willing to accept responsibility for the alleged offense and simply want to reduce or mitigate the penalties. A common scenario that arises in State College Underage Drinking cases involves a Penn State student that has never been in trouble before, was cooperative with the investigating police officer, has made the Dean's List every semester, has a high grade point average, and appears before the judge at the hearing to admit guilt and then ask the judge to reduce or eliminate the license suspension. This attempt for leniency may result in a reduction of... Learn More
Good Samaritan Law and Pennsylvania Underage Drinking Charges
Pennsylvania law was changed in November of 2018 to expand the immunity from prosecution or Good Samaritan protections for underage drinkers that need medical assistance. In the past, the person that called for medical assistance was often protected from prosecution, but the person that needed the medical assistance was not. Now, if certain conditions are met, th e caller AND the person needing medical assistance are immune from prosecution. The law wants to encourage underage drinkers to get medical help from a friend without fearing that the caller will get him or herself into trouble. The law, officially called "Safe... Learn More
Am I eligible to receive a limited or bread and butter license that would allow me to drive to school or work?
State College Underage Drinking Attorney By Jason Dunkle on G+ A Pennsylvania resident that has a Pennsylvania driver's license is eligible to receive an Occupational Limited License (OLL) for a first offense of Underage Drinking. Non-residents of Pennsylvania are not eligible to receive an OLL or a limited restoration of driving privileges. The OLL allows a person to drive to and from work, treatment, or study obligations. In order to receive an OLL, an application and related fees must be sent to PennDOT, by certified mail. The application must explain the need for operating a motor vehicle and must identify... Learn More
Can I participate in a first-time offenders program to avoid the penalties?
Some first-time offenders of Underage Drinking are permitted to participate in a first-time offender or pre-adjudicative disposition program that allows for the dismissal of the of the Underage Drinking charge upon completion of the program. Most Magisterial District Judges use a program that may require payment of court costs, participation in an alcohol education class, and completion of community service. The types of programs used by judges varies across the state of Pennsylvania, and different judges within the same county may even have different requirements. State College Youthful Offender Program (YOP) Some State College judges use Youthful Offenders Program (YOP)... Learn More