Message to Students
Many clients of mine have been local high school or college students who have had a minor run in with the law. Often times they are charged with such criminal offenses as Possession of Alcohol, Underage Drinking, Harassment, Possession of Marijuana, Retail Theft, or Disorderly Conduct .
While it may appear to be easy in the short run to just simply enter a guilty plea, pay a small fine, and be done with the matter, that is not usually the correct decision long-term for a young adult. Even a minor brush with the law can be a permanent criminal record that could prevent the person from getting into schools, obtaining a job, entering the military, or getting a license years after graduation. At my law office, I make every effort to help a person to avoid a permanent criminal record. In those instances where the record cannot be avoided, there are steps that can be taken to lessen the impact on a person's future.
Please do not be misled into entering a guilty plea on what may appear to be a minor case, just to quickly put it behind you. I strongly suggest that you explore all options, understand what impact your decision may have on your future, and do not forget to follow up with potential expungement options.
In any college or university setting, underage drinking and alcohol charges are common. A conviction of DUI with a certain blood-alcohol level can result in suspension of your driver's license. DUI can also result in jail time, especially if you have had more than one offense.
An experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer can analyze your case to see if you have a viable defense. If so, I may be able to help you avoid a license suspension, jail time, or conviction. I can also help to develop your defense ( e.g., if you were charged with DUI after an illegal traffic stop). If you were charged with underage drinking for just being at a college party where others were drinking, I can help to show that you were not drinking. I will seek the best possible outcome through negotiation or trial. Even if you don't have a viable defense, a skilled criminal defense attorney can help to lessen the consequences through negotiating with the prosecution for alternative sentencing, such as accelerated rehabilitation disposition (ARD) and community service programs.
* I can also try to help people who turned twenty-one to get underage drinking charges removed from their permanent criminal records. Underage drinking may be able to be removed once you turn twenty-one, but it does not happen automatically. If you plan to apply for a job, you should have your record expunged before a criminal background check is performed.
** If you are an education major at college, intending to teach anywhere in Pennsylvania you should be aware that the law provides that no person shall be employed in a public school, private school, intermediate unit, or area vocational-technical school if a criminal history record indicates that the person has been convicted anywhere within five years of either: Criminal Homicide; Aggravated or Sexual or Indecent Assault, Harassment/Stalking, Kidnapping, Unlawful Restraint, Rape, Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Concealing the Death of a Child, Endangering the Welfare of Children, Dealing in Infant Children, Prostitution, Obscenity, Corruption of the Morals of a Minor, Sexual Abuse of Children, or Felony Controlled Substance charge. Therefore if you are an education major charged with any of these offenses, and you either plead guilty or are found guilty, then you will not be able to teach for a period of at least five years. An education major charged with a criminal offense, especially those listed above, must be careful about the outcome of his/her case. Some charges may prevent you from getting a license to teach here.
Contact the Law Office of Jeffrey L. Pollock, Esq. at (412) 421-2232 for a free initial consultation and case evaluation with an experienced, knowledgeable Pittsburgh attorney who is a concerned client advocate.