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December 23, 2009

Superior Court of Pennsylvania Upholds Suppression Order, Holding Pennsylvania Constitution Provides Greater Protections than Federal

The United States Constitution contains what is known as the Bill of Rights; the first ten amendments to the Constitution which provide American citizens with their Fundamental Rights. These amendments alone apply to individuals solely within the confines of the Federal Government and Legal systems. The Fourteenth Amendment then applies those Fundamental Rights, as set forth in the Bill of Rights, to citizens of all individual States. Specifically, State Constitutions cannot provide less protections than that which is provided for by the Federal Constitution; but State Constitutions can...

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November 16, 2009

Attorneys Not Subject to Criminal Penalties under Federal Money Laundering Statute

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held attorneys cannot be penalized criminally for accepting tainted money from clients, under a Federal money laundering statute. The Federal statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1957, excludes “any transaction necessary to preserve a person’s right to representation as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution” from criminal penalties associated with money laundering; knowingly engaging or attempting to engage in a monetary transaction in criminally...

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October 16, 2009

Downward Departure from Sentencing Guidelines Must Result in Final Sentence Below the Original Guideline

A recent precedential case, decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, held that a downward departure from the sentencing guidelines must result in a final sentence, less than the minimum provided by the guideline. The case of U.S. v. Vazquez-Lebron involved a Defendant who had pled guilty to conspiracy to possess and intent to distribute cocaine. For his cooperation and substantial assistance in the prosecution of others involved, the Prosecution agreed to grant Vazquez a downward departure from the sentencing guidelines which suggested forty-six (46) to...

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September 2, 2009

Superior Court of Pennsylvania Upholds Suppression Order Under Pennsylvania’s Wiretap Act

A recent appellate decision affirmed a suppression of evidence order, granted due to a governmental violation of Pennsylvania’s Wiretap Act. Pennsylvania’s Wiretap Act criminalizes the intentional interception of wire, electronic, and oral communications and prohibits the use of any communication derived from such an interception. Accordingly, Police must strictly comply with the requirements of the Wiretap Act in order for the fruits of their investigation to be admissible at trial. Any non-compliance, even when in good faith, will cause the illegal interceptions to be...

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June 30, 2009

Supreme Court Holds Defendant has the Right to Cross-Examine Forensic Analysts in Criminal Trials

The Supreme Court of the United States held last week by a 5-4 majority, that a criminal defendant has the right to cross-examine forensic analysts under the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause. The ruling in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts requires Prosecutors who offer drug, blood, ballistic, or other forensic reports as evidence at trial to call the analyst who prepared the report to testify. This procedure allows the Defense to cross-examine the analyst, rather than the Court simply entering the unchallenged...

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