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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Declines to Apply “Good Faith Exception”

Posted On: March 4, 2014 by Marc Neff

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has issued an opinion declining to apply the “good faith exception” for an individual’s arrest. In March of 2010, a Pennsylvania State Trooper received radio communication that a vehicle was involved in a drug transaction, and then observed that the vehicle had a broken tail light. The Trooper initiated a traffic stop for the vehicle. The Trooper requested identification from the defendant, driver of the vehicle. After processing the defendant’s name through his patrol car computer, the Trooper received a “hit” message advising there was an active warrant. The Trooper placed the defendant under arrest and discovered drugs. Some time later, the Trooper determined that the warrant notification he relied upon when he arrested the defendant was no longer valid and should have been recalled since the warrant was already served about a week earlier. The defendant was still charged with possessing the drugs.

The Supreme Court ultimately held that as a fact, the Trooper had acted in good faith in arresting the defendant on the basis of what the Trooper believed was an active warrant, but the Court reasoned that there is no good faith exception to the exclusionary rule under the Pennsylvania Constitution. The court concluded that the physical evidence, as well as statements obtained later at the police barracks, were fruits of an illegal arrest based on an invalid warrant, and therefore must be suppressed.


All persons charged with crimes are entitled to the protections afforded by the United States Constitution and the rules of evidence in a criminal court of law. An experienced criminal defense attorney helps to ensure that a defendant’s rights are protected before, during and after a trial. If you have been charged with or convicted of a criminal offense, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney immediately. For a confidential consultation, contact the Law Offices of Marc Neff at (215) 563-9800 or via email at marc@nefflawoffices.com.

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Posted in: Drug Crimes