Pennsylvania law classifies burglaries into different gradings (or levels of seriousness) based on the facts of a given case. Grading is important because it dictates the sentence that a person could receive if he is convicted.
Pennsylvania law provides for a crime known as criminal mischief. Criminal mischief is essentially damaging property belonging to another person. Pennsylvania law provides a number of different ways this crime can be accomplished and also provides for various gradings.
As stated in previous blogs, Pennsylvania and federal courts disfavor applications for search warrants based on information obtained from anonymous sources. The reason the Courts disfavor these search warrants is because there is no inherent reliability in information obtained from anonymous sources. If the police no the person providing the information or the person provides his name and contact information, there is some inherent reliability to that because that person potentially subjects himself to penalties for false report to law enforcement.
In Pennsylvania, as well as a number of other states, there is a little-known legal device called civil forfeiture that allows police and law enforcement agencies to seize both real and personal property from an individual without ever needing to charge the individual with a crime. That's because, according to the law, it's not the person who is guilty of the crime but rather the property itself. This has given rise to unusual civil actions that puts the burden of proof on a person to prove their innocence in order to retrieve their items.
In Pennsylvania, the police can obtain information from non-law enforcement sources and use that information as a basis to obtain a search warrant for a particular place. This information from non-law enforcement sources falls into 2 categories: 1. confidential informants or other people who are known to the police and 2. anonymous informants. it is this second category that Pennsylvania courts treat with extreme skepticism.
Pennsylvania has recently passed a new law re: DUIs. This new law seeks to clarify a previous issue that during the sentencing of those individuals who have been convicted of a second offense for DUI within 10 years for refusing chemical testing. Prior to the passage of this new law and after a Pennsylvania Superior Court Opinion addressing the same issue, a person who had been convicted of a second offense within 10 years and who refused chemical testing only faced a maximum sentence of 6 months incarceration, because the previous wording of the grading statute was flawed.