Court: Crminial Procedures Part 2
Monroe County, PA - County Courts
Monroe County, PA - County Courts
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Criminal Case Procedures
 
 
 
 
PRE-SENTENCE INVESTIGATION

If you are found guilty of a charge, by plea or by trial, the Court will almost always order a pre-sentence investigation (PSI).  Unless you are in jail, it is your duty after the conviction to contact the Probation Office and arrange for an appointment to meet with a Probation Officer so that he or she can discuss your family history, work history, prior criminal record, etc. in order to prepare a PSI for the Judge.  The PSI will usually include a recommendation to the Judge of your punishment.  The Court does not allow you to see the PSI, but your lawyer is allowed to read it, although he or she may not photocopy it. Unfortunately, the PSI will not usually be available for your lawyer to read until only a day or so before the sentencing.  In probably over 50% of the cases the Judge will follow the sentence recommended in the PSI, but at sentencing your lawyer will be trying to get the sentence as light as possible.

 

DRUG TESTING

You can also expect a request for a urine sample at your PSI interview so they can test it for drugs, even if your charges do not involve drugs.  You do not have to give a urine sample, but if you refuse, the Judge will learn of your refusal when he reads the PSI.  We suggest you stop all illegal drug use now and stay clean, because, depending upon the drug, the drug might show up on the test a month or more after you used it.
 

SENTENCING

Sentencing is usually about 1 to 3 months after you are either found guilty at trial or after your guilty plea.  We will send you notice of the date a few weeks before the date.  Convictions have side effects.  We cannot list them all.  For example, a conviction for a crime for which the maximum jail is over one year, even if you receive less time, will, due to federal law, forever prevent you from getting a permit to carry a gun.
 

 
 
APPEALS

You have the right within ten (10) days of your sentencing to have us ask the Judge to reconsider your sentence if he made a mistake by considering something that he should not have considered, or that he mistakenly refused to consider something. Alternatively, we could also argue we have new sentencing evidence.  In most cases the Judges deny requests for reconsideration.

 

You also have the right to appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, but this usually must be done within thirty (30) days of the date of your sentencing.  Unfortunately, such an appeal can only be filed if there is actually some kind of error committed either in your pre-trial court rulings, in the trial itself, in the guilty plea, or in the sentencing itself.  We cannot appeal simply because you think the Judge should have given you less time in jail.  If you have a desire to appeal you must speak with your lawyer as soon as possible to discuss whether or not there are any grounds to appeal in your case.
 

PROBATION

If you have been sentenced to probation we will then close our file on you at that time.  Hopefully, you will successfully complete your probation and you will never have to appear in court again.  If you violate your probation, your probation officer will probably petition to have your probation taken away and to have you resentenced by the Judge.  If this occurs, we will normally then reopen our file and represent you at that hearing on the revocation of your probation.

 
PAROLE

If you have been sentenced to jail, in virtually every case the Judge will have set both a minimum and a maximum length of imprisonment, such as not less than 6 months nor more than 23 months.  If the maximum sentence of all your sentences put together is less than 24 months, then the county Judge who sentenced you has the power to parole you at any time.  The time at which he will actually parole you is almost always at the expiration of the minimum sentence.  A few weeks prior to your minimum date the Public Defender Office will automatically file the petition for your parole and the Judge will usually schedule a parole hearing on or about the date of your minimum period.

                                         

If your maximum sentence was 2 years or more, then the county Judge does not have the power to parole you.  Instead, only the State Board of Probation and Parole can parole you.  An exception is that in DUI county jail sentences the judge can retain power to parole even if the maximum sentence is over 2 years. The State Board will not parole you before your minimum date, and unfortunately, it also usually takes longer to parole you after your minimum date has passed.  No petition is filed by our office in state parole cases because it is not necessary.  The Public Defender Office will not be representing you in your parole before the State Board of Probation and Parole.
 

 
WHICH JAIL?

If your sentence had a maximum of less than 2 years you will be serving it in the county jail.  If your maximum sentence was two years or more, but less than 5 years, then it is up to the Judge at the time of sentencing to state whether you will serve your time in a county jail or in a state prison.  If your maximum sentence is 5 years or more, then you must serve your time in a state prison, regardless of how short your minimum sentence might be.

 
WORK RELEASE

If you are serving your sentence in a county jail, then you can apply for work release.  You should first ask to speak with the work release coordinator at the jail.  The Public Defender secretaries, usually Jodi, will assist in preparation of the work release papers.  The Public Defender lawyers do not get involved in the work release matters unless the court has scheduled a hearing to determine if you should be taken off of work release.  It can sometimes take weeks to get your work release approved.

 

If you know that you are going to be sentenced to jail you may come into the Public Defender Office and see Jodi about filling out the application for work release prior to your incarceration.  The final petition cannot be submitted until you are actually in the jail, however, we can get the paperwork signed which may cut a little bit of time off your waiting time to hear if the petition is approved or disapproved.

 
PHONE CALLS TO YOUR LAWYER

You may find it difficult to reach your lawyer by phone because he or she is in court or elsewhere.  When you do call please tell the secretary what was the last thing that happened in your case (for example, a preliminary hearing, arraignment, guilty plea, etc.) and tell her exactly what you want to discuss.  Frequently she will be able to answer your questions as accurately as your lawyer and quite often she may have information that your lawyer does not have yet.  If your lawyer is not in, this will help the secretary leave a helpful message for the lawyer.  If your lawyer is in, this information will help the secretary find your file so that she can give your lawyer your file and he or she can refer to it while speaking to you.  If you want to make an appointment to see your lawyer, the secretary will usually be able to schedule one at that time.
 

DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS

In most DUI and drug cases your privilege to drive will be suspended.  Even after the suspension period has run, you are still suspended until (1) you have done everything PENNDOT tells you to do, and (2) PENNDOT. informs you your driving privilege has been restored. If your suspension is for more than a year, you might be eligible to get an “Occupational Limited License: after the first year.  It will allow some driving.  Contact PENNDOT and apply for it at least 20 days before sentencing, the day your suspension begins.

 







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