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State College Criminal Law Blog

Pennsylvania men face drug charges after overdose death

Generally, possession of an illegal substance with the intent to distribute is a serious crime and often results in more serious consequences than drug possession for personal use. However, in Pennsylvania, you can also be charged with drug delivery resulting in death, which is perhaps the most serious drug charge of all. Drug delivery resulting in death can result in a sentence of up to 40 years in prison and is classified as a felony.

Two Pennsylvania men were recently charged with possession with intent to deliver drugs and criminal use of a communication device, and are also facing a pending charge of drug delivery resulting in death. These charges apparently stemmed from a drug overdose that occurred over the July 4th weekend.

How your drug abuse problem may impact your divorce

When drug charges and divorce collide, the result can be messy. Perhaps your drug addiction is one of the reasons your marriage is falling apart. Maybe your spouse told the court about your substance abuse during the divorce proceedings and now you are facing a potential conviction during your divorce. 

Your drug problem may directly impact the outcome of your divorce proceedings. Here is how your drug abuse may influence custody, alimony and property division: 

What to expect if you refuse a Breathalyzer test

If a police officer suspects that you have been drinking and driving, it is likely that he or she will arrest you and ask you to submit to a Breathalyzer test to determine your blood alcohol concentration. If the test reveals a BAC level of .08 percent or more (for drivers 21 and older), you may be charged criminally for driving under the influence. However, many people wonder if they can legally refuse to take the test in the first place.

Generally, you can refuse a breath test, but not without consequences. Under Pennsylvania's implied consent law, by carrying and using your driver's license, you implicitly agree to submit to chemical tests (e.g. blood, breath, urine) if an officer has lawfully arrested you on suspicion of DUI. Therefore, if you refuse to take the test, your license will automatically be suspended for 12 months, assuming you have no prior DUI convictions. If you have a prior conviction or prior test refusal on your record, your license will be suspended for 18 months. Additionally, you will have to pay a license restoration fee of up to $2,000.

In Pennsylvania, can one be charged for someone else's drugs?

As most folks know, possession of a controlled substance - methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin or a synthetic like oxycontin or marijuana without a prescription, for example - is illegal. But what if a friend, relative or acquaintance leaves narcotics in someone else's car or room, and they somehow find their way into the hands of law enforcement? Could the unsuspecting non-owner face drug charges? Like it or not, it is possible that such a scenario could result in the person being charged with a crime.

How is this possible? It is a concept referred to as "constructive possession." The law for applying constructive possession to a drug case varies from state to state. In Pennsylvania, a constructive possession charge relies on a "totality of the circumstances" test. To prove constructive possession in the Keystone State - as opposed to actual possession - the Commonwealth must demonstrate that the defendant has the power to control ("dominion over") the contraband in question and the intent to exercise such control.

In Pennsylvania, even legal pot can cause legal trouble

With the state's recent legalization of medical marijuana, Pennsylvania is now in the final phases of implementing the law. And medical marijuana dispensaries have been popping up across the Keystone State, including the first to open in the State College area. Although medical marijuana may be perfectly legal in Pennsylvania - with a prescription and a patient card - patients must still use caution to avoid drug charges, DUI and other potential pitfalls.

Even though a motorist may have a prescription for marijuana, it is still illegal to drive in Pennsylvania with any amount of THC in one's system. This means that if a motorist who has taken a prescribed dosage of medical marijuana is pulled over and tested, he or she could be charged with DUI. Pennsylvania State Police, recognizing the potential for a legal quandary, have urged lawmakers to update the state's DUI laws to account for medical marijuana.

Assistance navigating DUI charges

Pennsylvania is an "implied consent" state. What this means is that in exchange for the privilege to drive on the state's streets, roads and highways, you agree to consent to a chemical test if a law enforcement officer has formed a reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or a controlled substance. If you refuse the test, you could lose your license and face some heavy financial penalties.

What's more is that if the criminal DUI case moves forward, evidence of your test refusal is admissible in court and can be used against you. So, it's possible that you could face penalties for both test refusal and DUI.

Helping your children adjust after a long visitation

With the arrival of summer vacation, many children in Pennsylvania will go on more extended visits with their noncustodial parents. This might be a nice break for you, but upon their return, you might wonder if your ex replaced your well-behaved children with a pack of wild animals. Suddenly, they are unruly, defiant and challenging of your authority.

Before you pack your bags to go on a break of your own, realize that this is totally normal. Many extended visitations during the summer last between four and six weeks – plenty of time for your children to get accustomed to rules and structure that may be significantly different from your own.

Pennsylvania residents are relatively safe from crime

Pennsylvania, one of the nation's most populous states, with several major cities and several million residents, also happens to be one of its safest - at least when it comes to crime. This is according to a survey from WalletHub, entitled "2018's Safest States in America." However, a closer look at the statistics on which this ranking is based reveals that, in spite of its relatively low rates of violent crime, Pennsylvania's criminal defense attorneys will continue to be needed for quite some time.

According to WalletHub's scoring system, Pennsylvania earned an overall rating of 49.91 across all the survey's criteria. This puts the Keystone State among the bottom half of states, but solidly in the middle, i.e. nowhere near Mississippi. Among the criteria used to determine its ranking were the state's level of emergency preparedness, its workplace safety data, highway and traffic safety statistics, and "financial safety" considerations, such as cost of living and saving habits.

Pennsylvania defendants have right to an attorney

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees a criminal defendant the right to effective representation by a competent attorney. The Fourteenth Amendment made this right universal; it applies in both state and federal cases. When an individual is arrested or questioned by police, they should almost always refuse to speak without the presence of an attorney. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer can help ensure that a suspect's rights are protected.

Anyone who has watched a crime drama on tv has heard of a suspect's Miranda rights. The first one read is the "right to remain silent," which derives from the Constitution's Fifth Amendment. This is an extremely important right, even when a suspect is not read a Miranda warning. Often, law enforcement officers will question a suspect without arresting them, asking for a voluntary interview - sometimes at a police station or other official location.

Snowball effect leads to Centre County meth lab bust

Sometimes, especially where criminal charges are concerned, one thing can lead to another and a person can find themselves bogged down in a legal quagmire. This can be especially true if a person was careless or indiscreet, essentially inviting drug charges that were filed against them. When an officer stops someone, they must have reasonable suspicion to do so. In order to search or enter a home, an officer needs a warrant, or in the absence of a warrant, articulable probable cause. Officers don't need any of these things, however, if they are invited into a home.

Before inviting a law enforcement officer to enter one's home, a person should be reasonably certain that nothing illegal is going on. A recent cautionary tale occurred in Centre County, Pennsylvania. A trooper on patrol saw a woman go into a house in Boggs Township. The officer recognized the person as someone who was wanted on other charges. So, the trooper went up to the door and knocked on it.

quotes
  1. I came to Lance when I was going through a horrible experience. He was patient and kind as he explained the legal process of my situation. There was a deep level of humanity in his approach combined with logic and expertise. I am very grateful for all of his help and would recommend him to anyone.

  2. I came to Lance when I was going through a horrible experience. He was patient and kind as he explained the legal process of my situation. There was a deep level of humanity in his approach combined with logic and expertise. I am very grateful for all of his help and would recommend him to anyone.

  3. I came to Lance when I was going through a horrible experience. He was patient and kind as he explained the legal process of my situation. There was a deep level of humanity in his approach combined with logic and expertise. I am very grateful for all of his help and would recommend him to anyone.

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