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The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers
AVVO Rating 10.0 Superb | Top Attorney Criminal Defense
Nation's Premier | NACDA | Top Ten Ranking 2014
10 Best 2014 | Client Satisfaction Award | American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys
2016 top 100 lawyer ASLA
10 best 2016 client satisfaction| American Institute of personal injury Attorneys
American Jurist Institute Top 10 Attorneys
Top 10 Attorneys American Jurist Institute 2017

April 2014 Archives

Mandatory sentence for possession of deadly weapon in robbery under PA law

§ 9712, of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code provides for a mandatory 5-10 year sentence for a Defendant who uses a firearm in a robbery or aggravated assault.   However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has found that this statute has also been subject to some extremely narrow readings. In Commonwealth v. Foster, the defendant was an accomplice in an armed robbery and did not actually possess the automatic weapon that had been used to force the victim to withdraw money from a bank machine.   The Court refused to impose a 5-10 year mandatory sentence on an unarmed co-conspirator in a robbery case and said that a 5-10 year mandatory sentence should only be imposed on the possessor of the firearm

Pennsylvania law requires legitimate expectation of privacy in suppression cases

To prevail on a suppression motion alleging a violation of privacy rights under Article I, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, Appellant must demonstrate (1) a proprietary or possessory interest in the premises searched; and, (2) a subjective expectation of privacy in the premises searched at the time of the search and that such an expectation is objectively reasonable; i.e., the privacy expectation is legitimate. Commonwealth v. Winfield, 835 A.2d 365, 368 (Pa. Super. 2003) citing Commonwealth v. Torres, 764 A.2d 532, 542 (2001).  The constitutional legitimacy of an expectation of privacy is not dependent on the subjective intent of the individual asserting the right. Commonwealth v. Brundidge, 590 A.2d 302, 307 (Pa. Super. 1991) citingHudson v. Palmer, 468 U.S. 517, 525-526 n. 7 (1984).  As Justice Powell stated, "it is not enough that an individual desired or anticipated that he would be free from governmental intrusion." Rather, he concluded, "[t]he ultimate question is whether one's claim to privacy from governmental intrusion is reasonable in light of all the surrounding circumstances." Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128, 151-152 (1978) (Powell, J., concurring). 

Police cannot create exigency circumstances under Pennsylvania law

Under Pennsylvania law, police officers are required to only conduct searches when they have a valid search warrant.  Through case law, the courts have created a very narrow set of exceptions or excuses to the general warrant requirement.  One such exception is known as exigent circumstances.

Pennsylvania's definition of firearm for mandatory sentence in PWID cases

In Pennsylvania, a person who is convicted of the crime of possession with the intent to deliver can face a number of mandatory minimum sentences.  One of the factual scenarios that can activate a mandatory minimum sentence is where a firearm is located in close proximity to the controlled substance being possessed for sale.

Recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court Case re: Inventory Search

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently issued a ruling that reduces the police's ability to tow vehicles and conduct warrantless inventory searches of the vehicle.  These cases often arise in drug cases.  The United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions require police searches of a person's belongings be conducted pursuant to a warrant.  Over the years, the United States and Pennsylvania Supreme Courts have allowed inventory searches as an exception to the warrant requirement.

Juvenile adjudications calculated towards Prior Record Score in Pennsylvania

A common question from someone who is charged with a crime is what the potential punishment or time of incarceration could be for the charge.  In Pennsylvania, courts use sentencing guidelines as a guide for determining someone's sentence.  A person's guidelines are a combination of his prior record score and the offense gravity score.  This blog will address an issue dealing with a person's prior record score.

Elements for the plain view doctrine in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, plain view is a type of exception or excuse from the constitutional provision requiring that all searches must be conducted pursuant to a warrant.  Under the plain view exception, the Commonwealth must prove that the officer was lawfully present in his location, the item was in plain view, and the criminal nature of the item was readily apparent.

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