Criminal Procedures

Unless dismissed at your preliminary hearing, the charges against you are now going into the Monroe County Court of Commons Pleas at the big courthouse in Stroudsburg. Within anywhere from a few weeks to a few months the District Attorney will prepare formal charges against you for that court. The charges are on what is called an “Information”.

  • Appeals
    • You have the right within (10) days of your sentencing to have us ask the judge to reconsider your sentence if he or she made a mistake by considering something that should not have been considered, or mistakenly refused to consider. If there is information or evidence that did not appear in the presentence investigation, or that the court was not made aware of, you may also argue on the basis of the new information. Without the latter, judges usually do not change their minds about the sentence imposed simply because 10 days or more have passed, and the requests are usually denied.

      You also have the right to appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, but this must be done within thirty (30) days of the date or your sentencing or the date of the denial of any post-sentence motions. Failure to file within that time frame will result in a waiver of your tight to appeal. You have an absolute right to appeal, even if there are no issues of arguable merit. Belief that the judge should have given you less time in jail will generally not result in any change in the sentence if the judge gives you an otherwise legal sentence and has a reasonable basis underlying the sentence imposed. 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.
  • Appearance at Waiver of Appearance
    • Appearance at arraignment in Monroe County Court of Common Pleas is optional. Since you have an attorney representing you, there is no need for you to physically appear before a judge at the courthouse in Stroudsburg to read you your rights. The Entry of Appearance form you signed at the preliminary hearing contains (already is) a waiver of appearance, and the date of arraignment on the form starts your time period for filing pre-trial motions, if any.
  • ARD
    • If you have been informed by your lawyer at the preliminary hearing that it appears (you should be routinely) that the District Attorney’s Office has considered you as a candidate for ARD, then you will be given an application to sign and the Entry of Appearance form will indicate the date for your ARD hearing. (will be scheduled during the weekly criminal court). You must appear in court to get ARD. Once you get ARD, we close our file on you and there is nothing further for you to do except to follow the terms of your probation.

      At the end of probation, you have the option of hiring a private lawyer to petition the court to formally order the police to expunge your arrest record.
       
  • Bail Reduction
    • If you want a bail reduction hearing, call the Public Defender Office and ask a secretary to send you a bail reduction form. When you return the completed form to us, we will be able to file a petition.
  • Call of the List/Guilty Plea/ARD
    • At the time of the preliminary hearing, your case will be placed in one of three tracks: (1) ARD if it appears you may qualify; (2) Guilty Plea if you agree to the proposed resolution of your case at this point; or (3) Status Conference if no resolution is reached at that time. You will be given a form that provides you with the date and time of your next Court Appearance in the Court of Common Pleas of Monroe County in Stroudsburg PA, not the District Judge who held the Preliminary Hearing.
       
      THIS IS THE ONLY NOTICE TO APPEAR THAT YOU WILL RECEIVE, AND YOU ARE PLACED ON NOTICE OF YOUR NEXT COURT APPEARANCE AT THAT TIME. This is important to you since if you fail to appear at the next date, a bench warrant may be issued, you may be arrested and put in jail for failure to appear and your bail may be revoked.

      Monroe County has criminal trail terms in the first two weeks of every month starting in the first Tuesday in January unless scheduled otherwise. Wednesdays of the month are reserved for Criminal Court, and your notice will contain a date and time of the Wednesday you are to appear, depending upon which track you are on. You will be scheduled to appear at either 8:30 a.m. or 12:30 p.m., again depending on which track you were placed on at the time of your Preliminary Hearing. This day is known as the Call of the List/Guilty Plea/ARD Day. The Judge first takes attendance by calling all the names on the list to see if they are there and asking their lawyer whether the case is planned for a trial, guilty plea or an ARD. Other less likely alternatives are also possible. In most cases where a guilty plea has been arranged by your lawyer, the guilty plea will occur at this time. The guilty pleas and ARDS will not occur until after the Judge has gone through the entire list of names.

      Juries are impanelled generally the first Tuesday of each month, and if you are going to trial, your jury will be selected that day. The trial will likely not begin that same day as a number of juries are also selected, but you will be given a date certain that your trial will commence. Just because your lawyer may have told the Judge at the Call of the List that your case will be a trial does not mean that you case will actually go to trial. It only means, and the Judge understands this, that as of that time no guilty plea or ARD or other dis-position of the case had been agreed to by both parties, and so therefore it is still scheduled for trial. Depending upon the seriousness of the case, quite often the District Attorney will not offer a plea bargain that we can accept until only a few days before the day set for trial. Sometimes a deal might not even be worked out until minutes before the actual picking of the jury.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Pre-trial Motions
    • In some cases your lawyer may decide that there is a chance you could benefit from a pre-trail motion, and if so, we will then file if for you. This could usually be something like trying to have the Court throw out the evidence against you that might have been illegally seized. Some motions can be filed before the date of your arraignment (or waiver of arraignment date), but most are supposed to be filed after that date.

      If we file any such motions you will be immediately sent a copy of the motion. If the court sets a hearing date on the motion, we will immediately send you a copy of the order setting the hearing date, and of course, you should attend at that time.
       
  • 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.
  • Sentencing
    • By law, you must be sentenced on or before 90 days after your conviction whether you plead guilty or are found guilty after trial by judge or jury. That time period can be waived on in some cases shortened as to as little as immediate sentencing at the time or the plea. Immediate sentencing is an exception and must be discussed with the judge and adult probation prior to the day the plea is entered so the judge is aware of the circumstances. The judge will usually advise you of the date of sentencing at the time the plea is entered. Our office also sends a letter reminding you of the date and time to appear.

      Some convictions do have side effects, called collateral consequences, which are different from and in addition to any sentence the court may impose. We cannot list them all. For example, certain offenses against minor children carry registration requirements under Megan’s Law. DUI cases sometimes involve a loss of license, ignition interlock or involvement in treatment programs. Many of these are mandatory by law and out of our control once the sentence is imposed.
  • Trial
    • If your case is going to have a jury trial, you will have your jury picked on the first day of the trial term. Usually after your jury is picked the Court will inform you and the jury of what day you and the jury are to return for the actual testimony to begin. Of course, you must be present for the trial, and for the picking of the jury, and if your jury is not picked that day, you must keep coming back each day until your jury is picked. The Court will usually accept guilty pleas during the trial term for cases where the deal was not worked out until the last minute.
  • 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.
  • Witnesses
    • If you have witnesses that you want at trial or any hearing, please tell them you want them to come, and also give us their names, addresses, and phone numbers as soon as possible so we can speak with them in advance and subpoena them if we want to.
  • 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, 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 inquire 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.