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Drug Crimes

June 14, 2010

Pennsylvania Superior Court Holds that Trial Court May Impose Both Mandatory Minimum and Conditional Minimum Sentences upon a Defendant, Pursuant to State Statutes

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recent decided an appeal by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in the case of Commonwealth v. Hansley. In Hansley, Frederick Hansley pled guilty to one count of possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, for an incident in which he sold cocaine to a police officer in September of 2008. Hansley pled guilty to a second count of possession with intent to deliver for an incident in which he sold cocaine to the same officer in October of 2008. Both sales were conducted within 1,000 feet of a school zone. Hansley’s guilty pleas subjected him to...

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March 25, 2010

Philadelphia Appellate Court Upholds Conspiracy Conviction in One Hundred Kilogram Cocaine Trafficking Case

In a precedential decision, the Unites States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed a judgment of acquittal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, resulting from a 2007 drug trafficking operation involving one hundred kilograms of cocaine. Defendant, Ruben Boria was convicted of both conspiracy and aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of a controlled substance, after a four-day jury trial in the District Court. Subsequent to receiving the guilty verdict, Boria filed for a judgment of...

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November 12, 2009

Police Cannot Prolong Investigations for Purpose of Increasing Potential Penalties

The Pennsylvania Superior Court decided the case of Commonwealth v. Smith lat month, remanding the case back to the trial court in order to determine proper sentencing. Smith was arrested and charged with four counts of possession of cocaine, four counts of intent to deliver cocaine, and three counts of delivery of cocaine. The arrest occurred following a prolonged police investigation, during which the defendant, Smith was observed committing four separate narcotics transactions. Smith was sentenced in the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, to seven to fourteen years imprisonment, in...

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September 3, 2009

Supreme Court of the United States Holds Using Cellular Telephones to Arrange Misdemeanor Drug Purchases Does Not Constitute Facilitation

A case decided in the Supreme Court of the United States this past summer has held the use of cellular telephones between buyer and seller, to make misdemeanor drug purchases, does not constitute facilitating under United States statue; facilitation would otherwise constitute a felony. Federal Investigators suspected a man of trafficking and/or dealing drugs, and subsequently obtained a warrant to issue a wiretap on his cellular phone. While monitoring the wiretap, Investigators observed six phone calls between the man and a customer, some made by the man and some initiated by the customer....

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May 13, 2009

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Search of a Vehicle Following an Arrest Must be Reasonably Necessary and Related to the Offense

The Supreme Court of the United States recently overruled a long established precedent, found in New York v. Belton, which allowed police to search the passenger compartment of a vehicle and any containers therein as a contemporaneous incident of a recent occupant’s lawful arrest. In the case of Arizona v. Gant, Gant was stopped for a minor traffic violation. It was discovered by the officer that Gant’s driver’s license had been suspended. A total of five police officers arrived on the scene and subsequently arrested Gant and his two passengers, securing each of them in individual...

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