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Abandonment of closed containers under Pennsylvania law

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.

The most common example of this is shown in a number of United States and Pennsylvania Supreme Court cases.  In those cases, the police attempt to seize an individual through either an official command or some show of force.  After the police attempt to seize the individual, the individual abandons a close container (usually a book bag, purse, or other type of item).  The police then seize the closed container and find contraband inside.

The issue becomes, can the police use the evidence of the contraband they found inside the closed container which was abandoned after the seizure.  In these cases, the analysis comes down to whether the initial seizure was legally justified.  In order to determine whether the initial seizure was justified, the courts apply a very factually specific analysis of whether the police had the requisite level of suspicion to seize the individual.  After engaging in the factually-driven analysis the court determines whether the seizure was justified and, thus, whether the police can use the evidence obtained from the abadonment.

If you or a loved one is charged as a result of the police searching your personal belongings, contact the experienced and aggressive attorneys at the Kelly Law Firm for a free consultation.

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