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Posts tagged "Constitution"

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.

Constitutional levels of police interaction with individuals

Police interactions with individuals are often the basis for motions to suppress evidence.  The allegation is generally that the police officer did not have the requisite level of suspicion in order to conduct the type of interaction with an individual that ultimately lead to discovery of incriminating evidence.

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.

Use of Drug-Sniffing Dogs and its Constitutional Implications

The United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions protect against unreasonable searches and seizures.  In a number of cases, the United States Supreme Court has had to address the issues of whether the police's use of a drug-sniffing dog constitutes a search and, if so, whether that search is unreasonable.

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.

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.

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.

Recent Pennsylvania Case Dealing with License to Carry Concealed Weapons

In a recent Pennsylvania Superior Court case, the Court ruled that a person could be convicted of firearms not to be carried without a license 18 Pa.C.S.A. 6106 if that person does not possess a Pennsylvania concealed carry permit.  If a person is found guilty of 18 Pa.C.S.A. 6106, he commits a felony of the third degree and can face imprisonment up to 7 years.

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