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September 2010 Archives

1543(a) / 1543(b) - Driving Under Suspension in Berks County

Most people think of a traffic ticket as a pretty minor offense. The only punishment is usually paying a fine and court costs. Sometimes, a driver might get a couple of points added to their license. If it is a serious traffic offense, perhaps a driver would get his license suspended. Hardly anyone, however, would expect to go to jail.

Can a Witness Refuse to Testify in a Criminal Case?

It is not unusual for a witness or a victim to threaten to "press charges" against another person. Likewise, many times a witness or a victim will want to "drop charges" that were filed against a friend, relative, or paramour. A quick look at the caption of a criminal complaint (Commonwealth v. Smith), however, will reveal that a witness or a victim is not the one pressing charges against a defendant. Rather, it is the police officers and assistant district attarneys, collectively referred to as the "Commonwealth of Pennsylvania", that "press" the charges against a defendant.

Underage Drinking in Pennsylvania

I recently represented a Kutztown University student on a citation for underage drinking. Pennsylvania's underage drinking statute, 18 Pa.C.S.A. 6308, actually covers "purchase, consumption, possession, or transportation" of alcohol. Although it is a relatively minor summary offense that is most often punishable by a fine, most young people, including my client, want to avoid having any type of "record", including one for underage drinking. This is especially important in the case of a successful college student with a bright future ahead of him. Furthermore, although Pennsylvania law allows for an expungement of an underage drinking citation upon reaching 21 years of age, my client didn't want to wait until his 21st birthday to have his record expunged; he didn't want any type of record at all.

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