Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Summary Trial Facts & Summary Trial FAQ's

What is a Summary Trial?

A Summary Trial is held for Summary offenses such as:
Where does a Summary Trial take place?

A Summary Trial takes place in a court-room before the local Magisterial District Judge.

Who attends a Summary Trial?
  • District Judge
  • Defendant & Defendant's Attorney
  • Commonwealth
    • Police Officer
    • District Attorney (occasionally)
  • Witnesses 
Are witnesses allowed to testify at a Summary Trial?

Yes, witnesses are permitted to testify to what they observed. Both Defense and Commonwealth may call witnesses to testify.

What is the Procedure for a Summary Trial?

A Summary Trial begins with all parties expected to testify being sworn to tell the truth. 

The Commonwealth presents their case first.  They must prove each element of the offense that the Defendant allegedly committed.  They may call witnesses to testify to what they observed.

The Defense then presents their case offering any defenses, explanations, and testimony that they may have.  Like the Commonwealth, they may also call witnesses to testify as to what they observed.

Once all concluding argument is heard, the District Judge will announce a decision and the Summary Trial is concluded.

Can Summary Trial decisions be appealed?

Yes, an appeal must be done within thirty (30) days from the date of the District Judge's original decision.  In most counties, this is done at the County Clerk of Court's Office or Department of Court Records.  You will be required to pay an appeal fee.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

General Tips & Information for Clients

Below I have included general tips and information for Clients to keep in mind throughout the court process.

It is very important to keep in mind that you should NOT discuss any of the facts of your case with anybody other than your Attorney. This means that if anyone, including friends and family ask you about the facts of your case you should not discuss it with them. If Investigators or Detectives of a Police Department contact you in any way, you should immediately inform them that you have an Attorney. It is important that you pass along your Attorney's contact information to the Investigator or Detective and explain that your Attorney advised you that you should not discuss anything without them being present. You should then immediately contact your Attorney and inform them of the situation and pass along the contact information of the person attempting to discuss your case with you. Your Attorney will most likely handle all communication with this person from this point forward.

You should keep your Attorney informed of any new information that you receive on your case. In addition, any new charges or changes in status of a pending case should be reported as well. Should your telephone number or address change, your Attorney will need to know immediately.

Keep a documented log or journal include any photos of events surrounding the events leading up to your case as well as your version of events from the incident resulting in charges. It is best to do this as close to the date of incident as possible so that the information is still fresh in your memory. Photograph anything that relates to your case including vehicle damage, injuries, accident sites, etc. It is important that you are active in the defense of your case. If your Attorney advises you to attend any meetings or do any specific requirements, you must provide written proof of these things being completed.

When appearing in court

Always show the Judge and any Officer of the Court respect. Your appearance should also be neat. Attire is always Business like. This means no shorts, tank tops, or any clothing that is revealing.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Message from Attorney Paletta

This is Attorney Joseph Paletta.  As a trial lawyer concentrating my law practice in the area of criminal defense, I have many opportunities to witness how the delay in retaining a lawyer can affect a person’s legal rights and options.  In fact, if you have looked at my website at, you have seen that on almost every page, I strongly suggest to readers to contact me immediately to consult about their legal problem.  I provide that advice for the following reasons.
If Police are conducting a criminal investigation and want to speak to you, the general rule is to tell police that you would like to consult with a lawyer first before making a statement.  The reason that you want to consult with a lawyer first is that anything you say can and will be used against you as evidence in a criminal prosecution.  You have a right against self-incrimination guaranteed by both the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions, and as a non-lawyer, people often do not realize that statements made to police will frequently be to their disadvantage.
Furthermore, police will frequently pressure and entice people to make statements before speaking with a lawyer.  A common example is when police say that if you do not speak with a lawyer but instead cooperate in the investigation, they (police) will recommend a low bond following arrest, or they will recommend Probation.  That may very well be true, so you will likely receive a short-term benefit.  However, not consulting a lawyer first and making a statement will likely be to your long-term disadvantage, reducing your options at trial and eliminating defenses that you may not even know you have.  Do not sacrifice your long-term benefit and criminal record for a short-term benefit.
However, please be advised that this general rule has exceptions.  The first and most common example of this exception occurs during an arrest for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substances.  For a D.U.I. arrest, you do not have a right to speak to a lawyer before submitting to a chemical test of your blood or breath.  If you are arrested for D.U.I., police will read you something known as the “O’Connell Warnings” which includes the fact that you have no right to speak to a lawyer before taking a chemical test of your blood or breath, and that if you say anything other than “Yes” to taking the test, that will result in a refusal and a one year suspension of your driver’s license.
More reasons exist to consult with an attorney immediately, and they will be addressed in a future statement.  Until then, remember, when you have a medical problem, you consult a doctor.  When you have a legal problem, consult a lawyer.  The sooner, the better.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


With all of the huge celebrations from St. Patrick's Day this past weekend, many citations were issued and criminal complaints were filed by Police in the city of Pittsburgh for alcohol related offenses. So far since Saturday, our office has received numerous calls from individuals who have been charged with violations such as DUI, underage drinking, simple assault, and disorderly conduct just to name a few.

If you are one of the many who have received a citation over the weekend and are not sure what to do, you should contact our office immediately. You can scan or fax me a copy of your citation 
( ) and we will contact you as soon as we review it. We can schedule a consultation ASAP to discuss what you should do. As an automatic response, besides contacting our office, you should plead Not Guilty and send in your citation to request a Summary Trial date.

Contact me for more questions! Feel free to call or E-Mail me!

Paralegal to Attroney Paletta


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Underage Drinking Charges - Do you need an Attorney?


This is a subject that has many parents call our office.

Many individuals who call in explain that they’ve been told by someone who has been through the same thing that they do not need to retain an attorney for Underage Drinking charges - This is not always true. 

Attorney Paletta suggests that you meet with him to discuss the options available in your situation before making a decision on whether having an attorney would be beneficial to you. 

You may have questions such as how will this charge affect my child’s record, schooling and future?  Meet with Lawyer Paletta and gain answers to the questions you may have.

Contact us now to schedule your meeting!