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Philadelphia Criminal Defense Blog

Associates becoming criminal defendants in fatal overdoses

In Pennsylvania and elsewhere, acquaintances and friends of drug users who fatally overdose are increasingly facing legal consequences. The number of people facing certain charges, such as third-degree murder from an accidental overdose, rose to 205 in 2017 from just 15 in 2013.

One woman, for example, is facing third-degree murder charges and other offenses after reportedly getting some heroin for her neighbor. Unbeknownst to either the woman or the neighbor, the heroin had been laced with Fentanyl, a deadly synthetic drug. This caused the neighbor to overdose and die. The woman reportedly turned herself. The maximum punishment that she could face if she is convicted ranges from 20 to 40 years in prison.

Can you share or sell prescription drugs?

In your second year of college, you have your wisdom teeth removed. The doctor prescribes you some serious painkillers to take at home while you recover. Thankfully, you are young and healthy. You recover ahead of schedule, and the pain subsides long before you use up all of the medication.

You know you could take it until it is gone anyway, but you have read about people getting addicted to painkillers. You don't want to take any chances, so you just set the pill bottle aside in the back of your medicine cabinet and forget about it.

Drunk driving charges in Pennsylvania

In many places across the country, including Pennsylvania, legislation related to drunk driving has become stricter over the years. In 2003, Act 24 lowered the legal blood-alcohol content level from .10 to .08 and created a series of penalties that depend on the BAC level of the accused driver and their prior history with DUI charges. People in certain categories, including minors, truck drivers, school bus drivers or those involved in injury crashes, can be targeted for stricter enforcement.

The first and most basic level of drunk driving charges in Pennsylvania is general impairment. This is applied to those with .08 to .099 BAC levels. If the offender has not had a prior DUI offense, the charge is considered an ungraded misdemeanor. Nevertheless, the penalties can be significant -- a $300 fine and up to six months probation. The penalties, as well as the grade of misdemeanor, rise for subsequent offenses, which may be accompanied by one-year license suspensions, jail time, ignition interlock installation and significantly more costly fines. For a third or later offense, an offender could face up to two years in prison.

Radio personality avoids prison time at sentencing hearing

Pennsylvania fans of radio personality Artie Lange may be interested in knowing more about the comedian's unfolding drug case. Media sources report that Lange avoided jail time during a sentencing hearing in New Jersey on June 1. He had previously been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and a controlled dangerous substance in May 2017.

A law enforcement official initially pulled Lange's Range Rover over on the Garden State Parkway for erratic driving. Reports indicate that the official observed a bag of heroin on Lange's lap during the subsequent investigation.

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. Also, refusing to take a breath test could cost a person their driver's license immediately.

So, there are some things it can be important to understand about breath tests. 

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.

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