Pennsylvania law discourages warrantless searches and seizures: Pennsylvania Courts have long held that any search or seizure conducted without a warrant is presumed to be unreasonable and, thus, unconstitutional. In cases where a warrantless search occurs, it is the Commonwealth's burden to demonstrate that an exception or excuse to the general warrant requirement is applicable.
Under the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions, people are protected from unreasonable search and seizures. These provisions create their own issues dealing with searches and seizures. This specific blog will deal with the abandonment of a closed container following a seizure.
In Pennsylvania, anytime a person is accused of committing a crime that person must be aware of their possible exposure for incarceration. An experienced attorney should know his client's possible exposure for jail time. For each grading of a crime (felony, misdemeanor, summary), Pennsylvania law sets the maximum time for which a person guilty of that crime can be incarcerated. However, within that maximum sentence are what is known as a "guideline sentence."
In Pennsylvania, defendants face dramatic sentencing enhancements for DUI when the defendant also fails to submit to chemical testing. In a recent Pennsylvania case, a person was convicted of refusal in a case based on his conduct. On appeal, the Superior Court reversed the conviction for the DUI - refusal.
Based on Pennsylvania law, the penalties for a DUI are enhanced dramatically in cases where the accused refuses to submit to chemical testing. As discussed in an earlier blog, refusal can come from the accused expressly refusing (i.e. saying "No, I will not agree to submit to chemical testing).
Sentencing in Pennsylvania is based a combination of factors: facts of the case, age, victim identity, gravity of the offense, grading of the offense, and the accused's prior record score. Prior record score is based on the types and number of prior convictions a person has. A person accumulates "points" on his prior record based on felony convictions, consecutively sentenced misdemeanor convictions, etc. The calculation for prior Pennsylvania convictions is very formulaic and set by statute.
Under Pennsylvania law, any person who an officer believes is driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances is required to submit to chemical testing to determine if the person has alcohol or controlled substance in his blood and, if so, how much alcohol or controlled substance. If that person refuses to submit to the chemical testing, he can receive an increased penalty, if convicted, for the DUI and the refusal.