Swift Justice: Home invasion, statute of limitations and false imprisonment

Dear Jackie,

Four years ago, a man broke into my home at 2:00 a.m. and attacked me, with my one-year-old daughter sleeping in the bed with me. I woke up startled when a man started punching me in the face. I fought back and the man finally ran off when my baby started screaming. I called 911 and filled out a police report. Nothing came of it! I am so frustrated because this incident has impacted my life, and it's hard for me to move on. This man, whom I don't know, is still walking the streets. Apparently the statute of limitations is up on my case. Is there anything else I can do? -- Stephanie from Berwick, Pa.

Hi, Stephanie,

What a traumatic experience for you and your child. First, you need to get professional counseling to deal with this. If you cannot afford it, resources may be available to you through Pennsylvania Victims of Crime at http://bit.ly/xSPVR5. The statute of limitations limits the time frame in which legal cases may be filed. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for major felonies is five years, so the time limit for filing a case from your attack may not have run. The problem is that they haven't caught your assailant. Have you followed up with either the police or the district attorney's office? You should do this as soon as possible. You need to ask them the tough questions about your case. Pennsylvania has a Victims' Bill of Rights, which can be found at http://bit.ly/zhW3ix. You must face up to the reality that your attacker may never be held accountable. At the very least, seek help in dealing with your feelings and the frustration that you have. Good luck.

Dear Jackie,

My partner had a stroke in June and was in the hospital and rehab for about two months. He was then discharged and released into his 83-year-old father's care. I was there with my partner at the hospital every night because I was the only one who could handle him. I am also a surgical nurse and have experience with this kind of thing. Apparently he told his family he wants to come home and continue his life with me, but they will not let him leave. I have a feeling he is being held against his will! I heard him arguing with the family while we were on the phone, and he kept telling them he wanted to come home. I believe it's because his family doesn't approve of his homosexual lifestyle. How can I get him home where he belongs and wants to be? Isn't it illegal to hold someone against their will? -- Jerry from Jacksonville, Fla.

Hi, Jerry,

No doubt you are in a tough spot, and your partner may be in a tougher one. The problem with your question is that I don't know what your partner's condition is. Has it been determined that he is incapable of making decisions? Does his father have legal guardianship over him? If he does, then the decisions regarding your partner will continue to be made by his guardian until the guardianship is terminated. If your partner is mentally capable of making decisions, and there is no court order saying otherwise, there is no reason he has to remain with his father. If it is against his will and being done without an order, then this would be false imprisonment. If you can communicate with your partner, have him write a statement that says he wants to leave his father's care and come home with you. Forward a copy to his father and let him know you are coming to pick him up. If he will not cooperate, you may have to contact the police, explain the situation and get their assistance to bring your partner home.

(Jackie Glass is a lawyer and former district court judge from Las Vegas, Nev., who is the new host of CBS's daytime legal affairs program, "Swift Justice With Jackie Glass." Visit http://www.SwiftJustice.com for more information, local show times and to submit your legal questions to Jackie.)

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