Wrong Date on Citation

Client was a Penn State student charged by the State College Police with Underage Drinking under 18 Pa.C.S. 6308. On the summary citation, the officer mistakenly wrote the wrong year for the date of the incident. It was a clear error because he wrote a future year.

Many people would think that the wrong date would automatically result in a dismissal of the charge. Legally, that is not what happens. Most minor mistakes do NOT result in a dismissal of the charges. Pennsylvania law allows an officer to ask the judge for permission amend or fix errors such errors. Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 109 states that a citation shall not be dismissed because of a defect in the form of content of a citation “unless the defendant raises the defect before the conclusion of the trial in a summary case….and the defect is prejudicial to the rights of the defendant.”

Underage Drinking Trial

The case proceeded to a trial before a State College judge. Attorney Jason Dunkle argued that the charge should be dismissed or Client found not guilty. The officer argued against dismissal by stating that the incorrect year was clearly a mistake and that the defense basically knew what he intended, meaning the defense knew what the correct year in which the incident happened. The officer’s basic argument was that the defense was not prejudiced by the error as is required by the rule in order to obtain a dismissal. Attorney Dunkle countered and argued that the mistake was prejudicial or detrimental because it prevented the defense from presenting possible alibi evidence. How could the defense know whether or not an alibi defense was available if the defense did not know the correct date. This argument showed that the defense was in fact harmed by the error. The officer probably could have tried to eliminate the harm by seeking to amend the citation and also requesting a continuance. With a continuance, the defense would have had time to investigate an alibi defense. The officer did not request a continuance. The judge agreed that the error was prejudicial dismissed the Underage Drinking citation. Attorney Dunkle then went through the expungement process to have records of the incident destroyed.