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Posts tagged "Search & Seizure"

Suppression Issues: Rights of state Parolees on supervision

An interesting Suppression issue under the law is what are the rights of people who are on state parole to be free of search and seizures under the 4th amendment from their parole agents? Miranda Rights  Generally speaking, if the police want to enter someone's home, they must have the consent of the owner of the home or a search warrant permitting them entry into the house in order to search for contraband. (If they do not do this then their is a Suppression issue raised whereby the Defendant may have the fruits of the search suppressed).  However, an individual on state parole does not have as much of a privacy right from searches made by his parole agents. And generally, parole agents can enter their parolee's homes and search their homes so long as they satisfy a fairly low legal standard.

Suppression issues: What are Exigent Circumstances?

Suppression of evidence means that the evidence is not allowed in court.  In search and seizure cases, there is one Suppression issue that arises with great frequency, and that is, when do the police not need a search warrant to enter and search my home. In this blog, we will be exploring various circumstances when the police do not need a search warrant to enter your home.  read about drug crimes Almost all of these instances involve something called exigent circumstances. Exigent circumstances are circumstances where there is something going on in the case such that the police are not required to get a search warrant. Examples of this are the destruction of evidence, safety of other people or the police are engaged in a hot pursuit of an accused.

Pennsylvania law regarding suppressing search warrants based on anonymous tips

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.

Pennsylvania law regarding anonymous tips

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.

United States Supreme Court rules that searches of cell phones incident to arrest are unconstitutional

The United States Supreme Court recently issued a ruling holding that police are NOT permitted to search a person's cell phone incident to an arrest absent a warrant or a separate exigent circumstance.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Overturns Warrant Requirement for Vehicle Searches

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has recently overturned hundreds of years of Pennsylvania Constitutional Law with its recent decision regarding the warrant requirement and vehicle searches.

Pennsylvania adopts the Federal standard for the warrantless search of automobiles

A new Pennsylvania Supreme Court case has ruled on the proper standard to analyze warrantless searches of an automobile.  In this case, the PA Supreme Court has held that the proper standard is the standard the federal courts apply: namely if a police officer has probable cause to believe that an automobile may contain contraband, the probable cause plus the fact that an automobile is readily mobile, creates an exception to the warrant requirement.

Searches incident to arrests under the United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions

The United States Supreme Court has held that a search incident to arrest may only include "the arrestee's person and the area 'within his immediate control'-construing that phrase to mean the area from within which he might gain possession of a weapon or destructible evidence."  That limitation, which continues to define the boundaries of the exception, ensures that the scope of a search incident to arrest is commensurate with its purposes of protecting arresting officers and safeguarding any evidence of the offense of arrest that an arrestee might conceal or destroy.  (noting that searches incident to arrest are reasonable " in order to remove any weapons [the arrestee] might seek to use" and " in order to prevent [the] concealment or destruction" of evidence (emphasis added)). If there is no possibility that an arrestee could reach into the area that law enforcement officers seek to search, both justifications for the search-incident-to-arrest exception are absent and the rule does not apply.

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.

Plain view under Pennsylvania law

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.

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