Are There Laws Addressing Drug Paraphernalia In Pennsylvania?
Yes, there are laws addressing drug paraphernalia in Pennsylvania. Possession of drug paraphernalia is considered an ungraded misdemeanor, which means that it’s lower than a third-degree misdemeanor (which is the lowest-level misdemeanor that exists). Despite it being the least serious of the drug charges, it can have serious consequences for the offender because it’s still considered a drug conviction. Having any sort of drug conviction could disqualify some people from obtaining certain jobs or professional licenses, or maintaining the security clearance. It could also have an effect on a person’s ability to get into college. There will usually be a separate charge for each piece of the paraphernalia of which a person is found to be in possession of.
For example, if the police are called to respond to a noise complaint and find all types of paraphernalia in a house, then they would ordinarily charge the owner for each piece of paraphernalia found. So, if the police found three bongs and two pipes, then the person would be charged with five separate misdemeanors. That can be problematic. If the police find someone to be in possession of a single joint or some very small amount of marijuana, then they will sometimes cut that person a break by only charging them with possession of paraphernalia or, if they are feeling more generous, summary Disorderly Conduct.
Can Police Execute A Warrantless Search Of A Vehicle Or Premises If They Suspect A Drug Crime?
If the police suspect a vehicle or premises to be the site of a drug crime, they can execute a warrantless search. Up until a Pennsylvania Superior Court case in 2014, the police were required to have exigent circumstances in order to search a car without a search warrant on a traffic stop. In fact, Pennsylvania was actually one of the most protective states as far as protecting individual rights. However, the Pennsylvania Superior Court recently reversed years of protection for suspects. Now, all that is required in order for the police to conduct a warrantless search is “probable cause” to believe that there is something illegal inside of a vehicle. The problem is that the legal definition of probable cause is somewhat fluid and imprecise.
Probable cause just means that there are apparent facts that are discovered through logical inquiry that would lead a reasonably intelligent and prudent person to believe that an accused person has committed a crime. In order to do that, police have to look at the totality of the circumstances. Every case is going to be fact-specific, and the standard for finding the probable cause is pretty low. If the police walk up to your car in Pennsylvania and smell marijuana, then they can search your entire car along with an open or closed container found therein. The courts look at it in a very pragmatic sense when making the determination of whether or not probable cause exists. In Pennsylvania, the police have wide latitude to search vehicles, which is something that people should be aware of.
Can A Passenger Receive A Drug-Related Charge If Drugs Are Discovered In The Vehicle?
A passenger can receive a drug-related charge if drugs are discovered in the vehicle. In legal terms, this is called constructive possession, which means that a person can be convicted based on simply being aware of the existence of drugs in a particular location. For example, if the police respond to a noise complaint from a party and discover drugs sitting on the table, then they will charge everyone in the vicinity of the drugs unless a person comes forth to accept responsibility. If there are four passengers in a car and the police find marijuana in a neutral location, then they will charge everyone in the car unless someone comes forth to accept responsibility.
For more information on Drug Paraphernalia Laws In Pennsylvania, a free initial consultation is your best next step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (484) 854-3371 today.
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