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Drug Crimes

July 14, 2015

When Does a Traffic Stop End?

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently held that it was proper to suppress evidence obtained through an unlawful traffic stop. Tam Thanh Ngyuen was a passenger in a car that was pulled over for traveling 73 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. The officer approached the driver and initiated a traffic stop. After obtaining the driver’s license and registration from the driver, he asked the driver to exit the vehicle. The officer observed the driver moving excessively and talking. An additional officer approached the passenger side without engaging the passenger. The second officer eventually asked the...

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Posted in: Drug Crimes

September 9, 2014

Pennsylvania Superior Court Declares Mandatory Minimum Statutes Unconstitutional

The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently sent shockwaves throughout the criminal justice system by declaring the state’s mandatory minimum sentencing statutes unconstitutional. The court declared that a 5 year mandatory sentence imposed for possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, where a firearm was in the vicinity, was unconstitutional. The sentencing law only required the Commonwealth to prove that a gun was in “close proximity” to the drug sales, to a judge at sentencing by a preponderance of the evidence, rather than to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. The...

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Posted in: Drug Crimes

May 2, 2014

PA Supreme Court Rules That No Warrant Is Needed to Search Vehicles

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has recently ruled that a search warrant is no longer needed when searching a vehicle, so long as probable cause exists. The Court determined that the Pennsylvania Constitution does not provide a greater protection than the Federal Constitution and effectively brings the Pennsylvania search and seizure law in alignment with Federal law. The facts presented to the court arise from a motor vehicle stop in Philadelphia. The officers stopped the vehicle on a motor vehicle violation and on their approach to the vehicle, noticed a strong odor of marijuana emanating...

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Posted in: Drug Crimes

March 4, 2014

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Declines to Apply “Good Faith Exception”

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...

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Posted in: Drug Crimes

October 25, 2013

United States Supreme Court Says GPS Tracking Requires a Warrant

Antoine Jones was being investigated by the FBI and a local police department for narcotics violations. During the course of the investigation, the FBI placed a global positioning device on Jones’s vehicle without a warrant. This device tracked his movements 24 hours a day for about four weeks. The government used the tracking information in the criminal trial against Jones to show his whereabouts and to show how Jones visited the “narcotics stash house” on multiple occasions. After numerous arguments and...

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Posted in: Drug Crimes, Misdemeanor / Felony Crimes