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Philadelphia Criminal Defense Blog

A criminal study finds errors in some convictions

One of the first studies to determine the rate of wrongful, non-murder convictions was recently conducted in Pennsylvania. The study found a slightly higher rate of mistaken convictions than in murder or capital crime cases.

The lead researcher, a criminologist from a Pennsylvania university, created the study to focus on crimes other than homicide and rape, which he believed to be covered in other research. Under his team's methodology, he determined that that conviction rate of innocent defendants was approximately 6 percent as opposed to 3 to 5 percent for the murder or rape cases previously studied.

Intoxicated man struggles with police after urinating on truck

A long struggle resulted when Pennsylvania State Police troopers encountered a man urinating on a running truck next to East Queen Street in Chambersburg. Court documents detailed the encounter that began when troopers questioned the 24-year-old that they described as stumbling with bloodshot eyes.

At first, the suspect walked away from the troopers before eventually stopping for them. He then put up a fight when they tried to handcuff him. A trooper used a stun gun on the suspect but it did not subdue him. According to their report, troopers spent several minutes wrestling him into submission.

4 facts about breath tests to know today

Breath tests are one way that the authorities determine if a driver or pedestrian is under the influence of alcohol. They are simple tests that require only a few deep breaths and for you to blow into the testing instrument.

A breath test isn't always accurate, but, for the most part, they are and can be used in court. Given this, the results of such tests can play a significant part in DUI cases. So, there are some things it can be important to understand about breath tests when one is accused of intoxication

Pennsylvania man arrested after police raid

On April 17, a 29-year-old Pennsylvania man was taken into custody after police raided his Centre Township home and allegedly found drugs, firearms and an improvised explosive device, or IED. The raid took place at approximately 7:30 a.m.

According to a press release issued by authorities, officers from the Pennsylvania State Police and the Berks County Probation Office executed an arrest warrant at the defendant's home on the 800 block of River Road in Mohrsville. They obtained the warrant because the probation office was informed the man was in possession of a gun. During the arrest, officers claim they saw drugs, two long guns and an IED sitting in plain view. The IED was reportedly 3 inches thick and around 10 inches long. Officers from the Hazardous Device and Explosive Section of the Pennsylvania State Police were called to the residence to dispose of the device.

Pennsylvania men arrested on drug charges at traffic stop

Pennsylvania authorities cited two men for drug charges on April 2 following a traffic stop in Perry Township. Local police said they seized various items, including marijuana, cash, drug paraphernalia and an as-yet unidentified white powdery substance. The alleged offenders were a 35-year-old man and a 21-year-old man.

The driver was accused of possession of marijuana, a minor misdemeanor, while the passenger was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia, also a minor misdemeanor. The paraphernalia in question was a glass pipe found in a shoe. Police were waiting on U.S. Route 62 for a tan van with three men inside and Pennsylvania license plates. A man in the area had reported that three men in such a van were purporting to sell home entertainment systems door to door that were actually empty boxes.

Drug trafficking ring bust results in 15 arrests

According to the Berks County District Attorney, Pennsylvania State Police and the Reading Police Department, 15 people were arrested for allegedly operating a drug trafficking ring that was violent. The group reportedly made more than $20 million in drug sales in one year.

Law enforcement officers report that they started an investigation into the ring in Sept. 2017 when they learned of its existence. They believed that the group planned to murder five people in the past 30 days. On Feb. 25, the group planned to murder a rival drug dealer, but the plan was stopped by law enforcement.

Avoiding drunk driving over St. Patrick's Day weekend

Law enforcement throughout Pennsylvania will be cracking down on drunk drivers over the St. Patrick's Day holiday weekend. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that on St. Patrick's Day in 2016, drunk drivers caused nearly 40 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents. In the first six hours of March 18, drunk drivers were involved in more than two-thirds of all deadly accidents.

St. Patrick's Day is a popular holiday in cities throughout the state with many celebrations and parades. Drivers are warned to watch out for pedestrians who may be under the influence. Law enforcement may be able to take drunk pedestrians into custody as well.

Marijuana in Philadelphia: What to know about marijuana laws

In Philadelphia, marijuana is not legal, but it has been decriminalized. What this means is that it's not necessarily a criminal offense to possess marijuana in the city, but there are still consequences if you get caught.

Marijuana was decriminalized in 2014, but, despite that, the city still collects fines. Thanks to the Small Amounts of Marijuana (SAM) program, people caught with 30 grams or less can get away with a $25 fine. It has been shown that arrests for small amounts of marijuana dropped by around 77 percent only a year after the decriminalization went into effect.

Woman allegedly smuggled drugs into prison in her hair

Authorities at a Pennsylvania prison wondered why there seemed to be an increase in drugs distributed throughout the prison. They claim that a 29-year-old woman had smuggled methamphetamine, cocaine and LSD into the prison in her hair weave.

The 29-year-old woman had originally been charged with two felony theft counts. She was booked into the jail on Jan. 5 after she was unable to make bail. When authorities began to look into the drugs circulating in the prison, two women told them that the woman had been asking them about LSD. They said the woman gave them LSD and told them she had more.

Drug DUIs could be an issue for legal marijuana users

Medical marijuana is legal in the state of Pennsylvania. However, authorities there are concerned that residents may be charged with a DUI even if they are not under the influence of the substance. This is because a driver may be charged with a DUI if any amount of a schedule one drug is found in their system. For those who have medical authority to use marijuana, the law could be problematic.

Lawmakers in the state say that they are committed to finding a balance between enforcing the law and doing so compassionately. A representative from Pennsylvania State Police Troop J did acknowledge that consuming too much marijuana before driving could be hazardous. However, other states have taken action as it relates to those who drive and have permission to use marijuana for legitimate medical purposes. For instance, Arizona has ruled that drivers cannot be convicted of a DUI unless there is proof that they were impaired.

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