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Friday, March 25, 2011

Expungement of criminal record in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania offers remedies for those looking to expunge their criminal records. Having your Pennsylvania record expunged broadens your job opportunities and your potential to make more money. Upon expungement, you also become eligible for professional licenses.
What people don't realize is that even if you were arrested and no charges were filed, or charges were dismissed or you were found not guilty you have a criminal record of ARREST for life. That record can cause you to be unfairly prejudiced when you apply for jobs or housing. A simple arrest can cause you to have a record a several state law enforcement agencies.
When a person is arrested and or convicted in Pennsylvania, that arrest record is transmitted to various law agencies. The local police, county police, penitentiary,probation office, clerk of court, district court, state police and federal government all share information about the arrest and conviction.
With two exceptions, only non-conviction data can be expunged. Non-conviction data includes:
1. Arrest records that show no disposition took place (meaning that the Commonwealth chose not to prosecute) after 18 months and the court of the proper jurisdiction certifies that no action is pending.
2. Cases that were dismissed or discharged because of lack of evidence or lack of prosecution or because there was no finding of guilt after trial.
3. Cases that were dismissed or discharged because the offender successfully complied with the terms and conditions of certain pretrial dispositions such as the ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition), Section 17 etc., program.

Conviction data may be expunged where the offender is 70 years old and has been free of arrest for at least ten years following his or her final release from supervision. It may also be expunged where the offender had been deceased for at least three years.
It is important to remember that for most people, at the end of the case there is a mix of conviction and non-conviction record because not necessarily all charges result in conviction, and, therefore, there can be an expungement of the part of your record that will still look better than no expungement.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Buyer Beware

The old law while purchasing real estate was caveat emptor (Buyer beware). The buyer was responsible for inspecting the property and discovering all possible defects on it. However, recently, the law has been changing rapidly, especially when it comes to the residential real estate. In Pennsylvania, seller is now obligated to provide the buyer with the Sellers Disclosure, where the seller is obligated to disclose all known defects to the property. Seller is liable for failing to disclose known defects. The big distinction is between known visible (patent) defects and invisible (latent) defects. Clearly, Buyer is responsible for discovering all the visible defects.
Buyer Defense attorneys think that buyer waived all the rights to sue if he did not hire an inspector. That is not true. There are certain places where inspectors wouldn't go anyway, and that's where the latent defects are.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Driver v. Driver

It is amazing how many attorneys would reject a case just because there is a disputed liability (e.g. both drivers claim they had the green light or the other driver blew the stop sign). Actually, these cases are very winnable since there are pictures, records of repairs etc.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Never practice law in Pennsylvania

Try not to practice law in PA. Every court has its own practice and its own rules. Its almost like you need to pass the bar every time you enter your appearance in a new county.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Beware!!!!!!!!!!! Repossession and Forfeiture

We all probably know that if we use our car for an illegal purpose, it can be taken by the government as an instrument of the crime. But it is also a fact that if we knowingly allowed this illegal use to someone else, we lose a status of an "innocent owner" and the government, after a forfeiture hearing, can take our car. What is "knowingly" is a subject to an infinite number of cases, both state and federal. But here is another twist. If we are not outright owners but we either lease or finance the car, the bank, the lien-holder or the title holder can repossess the car for an "illegal" use. Since banks and financing companies are not government agents and, therefore, are not subject to the US Constitution, the procedure is very simple - same as when we stop paying for our cars - repossession.
I am now representing a client, whose estranged husband and step son were arrested for an alleged drug possession while driving her car. The police impounded the vehicle but later returned it to the bank holding the note. The bank then immediately declared the loan to be in default and sold the car at an auction since she could not pay the whole balance. The bank is now suing her for the balance on the loan since the car was sold for 1/2 of the loan balance value. We are counter suing for damages.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lawyer-Psychologist

Yesterday I had a client that seemingly came to the office to see what her legal rights were. She had been with her husband for 20 years and a year ago he cheated on her. Its amazing that although it was clear that he was busy transferring their marital assets and that should have been, from the legal stand point her major concern, she was really concerned with trying to keep the guy. It sometime amazes me how much of what I do is psychology. Just finished reading Stieg Larson's The Girl That Kicked the Hornet's nest and it turns out, in Sweden it is a must to have psychological training in order to become an attorney. Not here. I wish I had some.