How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Ely Your Own Question
Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 102523
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
Type Your Legal Question Here...
Ely is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Hello. I just received a "Summons for Summary Case Non-Traffic"

This answer was rated:

Hello. I just received a "Summons for Summary Case Non-Traffic" accusing me of harassment. Stating that I punhed an individual in the lip causing it to bleed. First of all I did not do any such thing, in fact on the date and time I was to have committed this crime I was at my office all day.

I spoke with a friend of mine who in a detective in PA and he told me that he spoke with the arresting officer and the officer told him that he got a licence plate number from tha vehicle that left in a hurry. This plate number was apparently mine. However, the vehicle was a Chrysler. I drive a 2012 Ford F150 pickup truck. I haven't owned a Chrysler product in at least 15 yrs. My friend proceeded to ask the arresting officer if he followed up and contacted me. He said that he didn't and the since the desription the officer was given was close enough to issue this summons.

PLease tell me how I should proceed. I feel this is unfair and that this officer was in the wrong. Help please!!!
Hello, my name is Ely. Welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice; and (2) my function is to give you honest information and not necessarily to tell you what you wish to hear. Note: there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am very sorry for your situation. First of all, please let us discuss what this is.

Harassment in Pennsylvania is defined as:
A person commits the crime of
harassment when, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another,
the person:
(1) strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects the
other person to physical contact, or attempts or threatens to
do the same;
(2) follows the other person in or about a public place
or places;
(3) engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits
acts which serve no legitimate purpose;
(4) communicates to or about such other person any lewd,
lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings
or caricatures;
(5) communicates repeatedly in an anonymous manner;
(6) communicates repeatedly at extremely inconvenient
hours; or
(7) communicates repeatedly in a manner other than
specified in paragraphs (4), (5) and (6).
18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2709.

This is a summary offense in this case, punishable by a fine. While not a criminal conviction per se, they do appear in a criminal background record, meaning that one may wish NOT to be convicted of it.

The summons is for a court date - it is one of several. The first setting is the arraignment where a plea is entered (NOT GUILTY). These hearings will reset several times to allow your attorney and the prosecutor (DA) to discuss a plea deal. Normally, the case is reset about 3-4 times before you have to make a choice:

1) plead guilty and simply have the Court sentence you (not recommended);
2) take the matter to trial and risk either being convicted, or, acquitted of charges (risky); or
3) make a plea deal with the DA.

If you do not have an attorney, one should be retained. May I recommend the PA Bar referral program - here. The attorneys are vetted and qualified. You should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.

I know you likely do not want to retain counsel. But, it may be wise to do so here, because the DA is not going to give you a "break" simply if you represent yourself. Also, the procedural aspects of the Court may be complex.

The Court is likely to reset in order for you to find counsel even before it asks one to enter an original plea (NOT GUILTY).

There is the possibility of a "deferment" program where if you take a class and stay out of trouble for a probationary period, the matter is dropped. While not a "right," this is often offered to non-violent first offenders. Do have your attorney check into this matter.

Alternatively, one can always take this to trial - the DA has to prove their case 'beyond a reasonable doubt,' which is not easy to do. However, this may be trying emotionally and is a risk. But considering the facts, this may be a good decision since the facts are in your favor here, arguably. DO discuss this option with counsel as well.

If the matter is dropped or you are acquitted, you may have a cause of action as relief for the false charge in malicious prosecution.

The basis of action of malicious prosecution is for the recovery of damages which have proximately resulted to the person, property or reputation from a previous unsuccessful civil or criminal proceeding which was prosecuted without probable cause and with malice. Johnson v. Land Title Bank and Trust Company et al., 329 Pa. 241, 198 A. 23.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.

Surely, you prefer that I tell the truth rather than what you wish to hear. Because it reflects very poorly on me unless you press one of the top three faces, keep this in mind when rating my and please do not punish me for being honest. I understand that this may not be easy to hear, and I empathize.

IMPORTANT: Please use REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces before submitting the rating, because this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects negatively on me as an expert, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. Do not worry, you may always ask follow ups for free after rating. My ultimate goal is your complete satisfaction.
Ely and 10 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you