2022 is coming to an end and here are our answers to the top 10 criminal defense questions from 2022. Our law firm wishes you a Happy New Year and looks forward to a strong 2023!
- How is Pennsylvania different from New Jersey when it comes to the illegal possession of guns and firearms?
Possession of Firearms in Pennsylvania
With regards to possession, Pennsylvania doesn’t require a license to possess a handgun, rifle, or shotgun within your home or place of a business. If a handgun is being transported in a vehicle through Pennsylvania, without a license to carry, it must be unloaded. Pennsylvania doesn’t require a permit to purchase rifles, shotguns, or handguns nor does it require a person to register his or her firearms or obtain a license to simply own one. The Commonwealth, however, does require a permit to carry a handgun outside of a person’s home or place of business.
What Are the Most Common Gun Crimes In Pennsylvania?
The most common gun charges in Pennsylvania are Violations of Section 6105, Section 6106, and Section 6110.2 of the Uniform Firearms Act (Title 18, Chapter 61, Section 6101). Section 6105 is the possession of a firearm by a person prohibited by law. Section 6106 is the possession of a firearm by a person without a license. Section 6110.2 is the possession of a firearm which has an obliterated or altered manufacture’s serial number. Section 6108 (Illegal carrying a gun or firearms on the Streets of Philadelphia) is a Misdemeanor Offense.
What Are the Most Common Gun Crimes In New Jersey?
In New Jersey, illegal gun and firearm crimes are what is known as indictable offenses in the Garden State. The most common offenses that our firm handles are 2C:39-4—Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, a crime of the second degree and 2C:39-5—Unlawful Possession of Weapon. Read my prior blog on New Jersey’s Grave Act for more information, especially mandatory minimum sentences
Possession, Selling, or Transferring Guns & Firearms in New Jersey
In State of New Jersey (aka “The Garden State”) the law is much different. It’s illegal to sell, give, transfer, or acquire any type of firearm, including a rifle or a shotgun, unless the buyer possesses a valid firearms purchase identification card and the seller signs a written certification identifying the purchaser. Unlike Pennsylvania, New Jersey requires a license to own a firearm of any type including antique firearms.
Permits to Carry – Pennsylvania vs. New Jersey
It is also illegal in New Jersey to even possess a firearm anywhere without a permit to carry and the law doesn’t make distinction between open or concealed carry. Pennsylvania doesn’t require a permit to purchase nor does it require a license to own a firearm including handguns. Like New Jersey, however, Pennsylvania requires a permit to carry a hand gun outside of your home or business.
Finally, while Pennsylvania and New Jersey share a river, and 3 bridges, the sharing ends there. Similar to license to practice law, New Jersey doesn’t honor a Pennsylvania gun permit so if you cross over into New Jersey with any type of firearm, you are potentially committing a crime. If a lawyer wants to practice law in the Garden State, he/she needs to pass its bar exam and if you want to have firearm you need to meet New Jersey’s requirements. While Pennsylvania has some tough gun laws, New Jersey has even harsher penalties which include mandatory minimum prison sentences under its Graves Act.
2. How do Pennsylvania and New Jersey differ with regards to medical marijuana?
New Jersey and Pennsylvania share borders, bridges, and sometimes even their love for certain professional sports teams but they have very different laws with regards to marijuana (cannabis). While the illegal possession of marijuana isn’t as nearly as serious as the illegal possession of a handgun, it is still can be a felony in some cases. This blog brings to together the most common questions that we receive about marijuana in both states.
New Jersey & Marijuana
New Jersey, like many states (but NOT Pennsylvania) has legalized the still Scheduled I drug Marijuana (Cannabis). The State’s Cannabis Regulatory Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization Act (CREAMM), permits the legal sale and use of cannabis and cannabis products for residents and non-residents. These are the top questions regarding the new law in New Jersey.
Who can purchase Marijuana in New Jersey?
Answer: Anyone in New Jersey can purchase Marijuana, this includes residents and visitors twenty-one (21) years of age or older.
- Where can a person purchase Marijuana in New Jersey?
Answer: A person can purchase at any New Jersey licensed cannabis dispensary. The State has a website, which lists all of the licensed dispensaries in the Garden State. Our criminal defense law firm services all of these counties, which include, Camden, Atlantic, Gloucester, Burlington and Cumberland County.
- What forms of Marijuana can a person purchase from a licensed dispensary in New Jersey?
Answer: Each dispensary is permitted to sell up to 1oz. of cannabis or the equivalent of 1 oz. of the drug. Here are the most common transactions:
- 1oz of dried flower
- 5 grams of concentrate or concentrated solution-these include resins, oils, or other forms of liquid
- 1000 milligrams of ingestible (ten 100 milligram packets)-the most common form are gummies
- The following combinations are often very common – half ounce of dried flower, plus 2.5 oz of concentrate of five (5) packages of gummies and a half ounce of dried flower.
- What are the legal categories of Marijuana in New Jersey?
- Dried flower
- Concentrated oils
- Vape formulas
- Soft chews
Dispensaries are not permitted to sell edibles like cookies or brownies, but obviously people can make their own with the product. New Jersey allows anyone over the age of twenty-one (21) years of age or older to be in possession of 1 oz. of cannabis and cannabis products.
- What is the cost of Marijuana in New Jersey?
Answer: Prices will vary by location and product. All transactions are subject to New Jersey’s sales tax (6.625%), plus social equity excise fee.
- Where can a person use Marijuana in New Jersey?
Answer: A person may smoke in private places; however, a landlord may prohibit cannabis on their property.
- Can I cross state lines with Marijuana purchased from New Jersey?
Answer: No. It is Illegal to transport cannabis across State lines.
- Can I give a friend Marijuana as a gift in New Jersey?
Answer: Yes. A person may gift up to 1 oz. of cannabis to another who is twenty-one (21) years of age or older. A person, however, may not sell cannabis to another or accept any payment in exchange for cannabis in New Jersey.
- Is it illegal to drive while high on cannabis in New Jersey?
Answer: It is illegal to drive while under the influence of Marijuana. The laws regarding driving while impaired or intoxicated apply when a person is under the influence of cannabis.
Please remember that Pennsylvania and New Jersey have very different laws regarding Marijuana. In the Pennsylvania, you can only obtain Medical Marijuana proscribed from a doctor. The Commonwealth does not permit recreational use of Marijuana.
Pennsylvania & Marijuana – Medicinal NOT Recreational
Many of our clients and their families assume that Pennsylvania has legalized marijuana, just like New Jersey. This, however, is not correct and flat out wrong, wrong, and wrong! While Pennsylvania has created a medical marijuana program, the drug itself, without a prescription from a certified doctor is still illegal within the Commonwealth.
What are the penalties for Possession of Marijuana in Pennsylvania?
The severity of a crime involving marijuana in the Commonwealth depends on the circumstances surrounding it. For example, the possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana is an ungraded misdemeanor and a violator is subject to a maximum of thirty (30) days of jail and a $500 fine. The illegal possession of more then 30 grams is an ungraded misdemeanor with a max of one-year of State incarceration and a $5,000 fine.
What are the penalties for possession with the intent to sell or distribute Marijuana in Pennsylvania?
The sale or distribution or possession with the intent to sell or distribute more then 30 grams of marijuana is an ungraded felony and subject to 2½ to five (5) years in a state prison and a $15,000 fine. Thirty (30) grams or less (about one (1) ounce) for no remuneration is an ungraded misdemeanor subject to a maximum of thirty (30) days in county jail and a $500 fine. The fines and criminal consequences are similar to hash and concentrates.
What are the penalties for possession with Marijuana paraphernalia in Pennsylvania and growing your own Marijuana?
The possession of drug paraphernalia or a sale of paraphernalia is an ungraded misdemeanor with a maximum of 6-12 months of incarceration and a $2,500 fine. Finally, it is a felony to cultivate or grow any number of marijuana plants. An offender is subject to 2½ to five (5) years of State incarceration and a $15,000 fine. It is important to keep in mind that any sale or distribution to a minor by anyone over the age of twenty-one (21) is a felony and the criminal penalties are doubled upon conviction.
While first time offenders are eligible for various alternative programs such as Accelerated Rehabilitated Disposition (ARD), Section 17, and even conditional withdrawals, a second or subsequent drug conviction subjects an offender eligible to double penalties.
Does Pennsylvania have a medical marijuana program?
Yes. Pennsylvania instituted a medical marijuana program because the Commonwealth, like New Jersey, found that it was useful to treat various conditions and disorders which included general pain relief, Glaucoma and movement disorders. There is also research to suggest that the drug may protect the body against some type of tumors and it is neuroprotective.
You just can’t go to any doctor if you would like to treat with medical marijuana. In Pennsylvania, physicians must complete a required 4-hour training provided by a Department of Health approved training entity.
3. What is the difference between aggravated and simple assault?
Simple Assault in New Jersey
In New Jersey a person commits simple assault under 2C: 12-1 (a) if he or she attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly, recklessly causes bodily injury to another or negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. A person also commits simple assault in New Jersey under subsection (3) if he or she attempts, by physical menace, to put another under fear by imminent bodily injury.
New Jersey, unlike Pennsylvania, doesn’t classify crimes or offenses as misdemeanors or felonies, but rather as indictable offenses (crimes—1st, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th degrees), disorderly persons, and petty disorderly persons. Simple assault is a disorderly person’s offense (non-indictable) unless it is committed during a fight entered into by mutual consent, in which case it is a petty disorderly offense.
Aggravated Assault in New Jersey
The recent incident in Wildwood has led to criminal charges against Ms. Weinman under subsection b of 2C: 12-1; She is charged with aggravated assault. While aggravated assault in New Jersey, like Pennsylvania, is committed when one attempts to cause serious bodily injury or causes such injury purposely or, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, recklessly causes such injuries (subsection 1). Aggravated assault is a crime of the 2nd degree in these situations and a crime of the 3rd degree where a person attempts to cause or purposely causes bodily injury with a deadly weapon or recklessly causes bodily injury with a deadly weapon.
Here, aggravated assault is graded as a crime of the 3rd degree. It is a crime of the 4th degree if a person knowingly, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, points a firearm at another whether or not the actor believes that the firearm is loaded.
Law Enforcement & Assault in New Jersey (Protected Classes)
New Jersey, like Pennsylvania, a person who commits a simple assault against a member of law enforcement, like the Weinman case, commits an aggravated assault. This means that the state does not need to establish beyond a reasonable doubt serious bodily injury, but only bodily injury. If the officer suffers bodily injury it is a crime of the 3rd degree, otherwise it is a crime of the 4th degree. New Jersey’s criminal code treats police officer’s, volunteer firefighters, EMS, and school employees as protected classes.
This means that the Commonwealth doesn’t need to establish serious bodily injury but only bodily injury, which is normally the standard reserved for simple assault, a non-indictable offense.
Remember that in New Jersey there is a substantial difference between an indictable crime versus an offense (disorderly persons and petty disorderly persons). Indictable crimes are what Pennsylvania would define as felony offenses, whereas, disorderly persons and petty disorderly persons are misdemeanor and summary offenses.
Degrees of Criminality in New Jersey
Crimes of the 1st and 2nd degree carry with them the presumption of state incarceration. Examples and maximum punishments in the Garden State are as follows:
- Crimes of the 1st degree—murder, manslaughter, and rape: The court can impose a basic sentence of 10-20 years or as much as 30 years to life for a crime like murder.
- Crimes of the 2nd degree—certain sex crimes, aggravated assault, aggravated arson, burglary, kidnapping, white collar crimes, and certain drug crimes: The court can impose a prison sentence of 5-10 years and a fine of up to $150,000.
- Crimes of the 3rd degree—robbery, possession of a controlled substance, and even some driving under the influence (DUI offenses): The court can impose a prison sentence of 3-5 years and a fine of up to $15,000
- Crimes of the 4th degree—stalking, some robbery offenses, some DUI offenses, assault offenses, and forgery offenses: The court can impose a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
4. Should you waive your preliminary hearing in Pennsylvania?
The preliminary hearing is extremely important to your case and you should never assume that it doesn’t matter or it is in someway insignificant.
There are situations where waiving a preliminary hearing makes strategic sense but this is only after a careful evaluation of the advantages and disadvantages of going forward with it. If your criminal defense lawyer is advising you to move forward with the hearing his or strategies should focus on the following 3 points:
This hearing is your first opportunity to evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s case usually in the form of one of their strongest witnesses. Most experienced judges won’t allow a defense attorney to ask questions about possible illegal search and seizure issues, or questions meant to impeach the credibility of a witness. These types of questions are for pre-trial and trial but that doesn’t mean that your defense lawyer should ignore them completely. During the hearing your attorney should collect information about the lighting conditions, the witness’s position in relation to the incident, the length of the observation and what, if anything, was happening around the witness during the observation.
Ask only leading questions of the prosecution’s witnesses.
Preliminary hearings are for the prosecution to present its prima facie case against the accused and not to establish guilt. Your defense attorney, however, must use this opportunity to lock the prosecution’s witnesses into an answer and there is no better way of doing it than leading questions. Leading questions, unlike open-ended questions (aka non leading) imply the answer in the question itself. For instance, a leading question is something like, “it was raining out, correct?” A non-leading question is “what was the weather like on the day in question?” Leading questions allow your attorney to control the witness’s response and doesn’t allow the witness to add further details which could hurt your case.
Argue what wasn’t argued.
The prosecution’s burden at a preliminary hearing is very low and challenging their argument will do little if anything to cause the judge to dismiss or downgrade charges. It is much stronger to argue what the prosecution didn’t present. In a drug case, for instance, where the charge is possession with the intent to deliver (PWID) your attorney should focus on the lack of observed sales, lack of drug sale paraphernalia (bags, scales, etc.) and the absence of money. On a gun or firearm charge your attorney should look at the location of the gun if the person is charged with the illegal possession of handgun. This particular charge requires the gun be out of the person’s home or place of business. On a drunk driving or DUI charge your criminal defense lawyer should look at the length of the officer’s observation if you are charged with general impairment under Section 3802(a)(1).
5. How is New Jersey’s bail system different from Pennsylvania?
Bail is based on the potential harm a person presents to the community as well as the risk that the person will not appear for court and flee. In Pennsylvania, bail is based on a monetary system; the amount of risk determines the amount of bail set. A person is entitled to bail in Pennsylvania for almost all crimes except the crime of Murder-First Degree, where the mandatory minimum sentence is life without the possibility of parole.
In New Jersey, bail is not based on a monetary system, but rather a risk factor assessment based on an accused person’s risk of flight, the protection of the community, and whether the accused person will obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process. Even if a person has a low risk assessment, however, the prosecutor’s office can file a Motion for Detention to argue that the assessment does not accurately portray the individual’s profile. At this hearing the prosecutor must present clear and convincing evidence that no level of non-monetary conditions will address the State’s concerns.
6. Are warrantless vehicle searches legal in Pennsylvania and New Jersey?
What happened in Commonwealth v. Alexander? The Pennsylvania Constitution once again offers greater protections against warrantless searches than the United States Constitution.
In a huge opinion (Commonwealth v. Alexander) that will send shockwaves throughout criminal courts in Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, December 22, 2020, the PA Supreme Court ruled that police can no longer search cars without a warrant unless there is both probable cause and emergency circumstances that require immediate action. This decision overrules and reverses the previous 2014 opinion in the case Commonwealth v. Gary
Prior to Gary and now once again with the Alexander decision the search and seizure provision of our Commonwealth’s Constitution provides a person with greater protection against illegal searches and seizures than the U.S. Constitution. Pennsylvania through Article 1, Section 8, specifically prohibited a warrantless search of a motor vehicle unless police or law enforcement could provide evidence of exigent circumstances beyond the mere mobility of the vehicle.
Pennsylvania Criminal defense lawyers can now make that argument again during a motion to Suppress evidence. This is major issue in all criminal defense cases but especially those involving illegal guns, drugs, narcotics, controlled substance, Drunk Driving and DWI.
7. Do police always need a warrant to search your home?
The topic of an illegal search and seizure is an important concept especially in cases involving illegal drugs, guns, and firearms. In most cases, this type of contraband is discovered following the search of property. While some of these searches occur with a search warrant, many don’t involve a warrant and are based on some type of exigent circumstance. Exigent Circumstances are exceptions to the general requirement of a search warrant under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. These occur when a law enforcement officer or a police officer has probable cause but doesn’t have sufficient time to secure a warrant.
To determine if exigent circumstances exist, a court looks at when the officer made the warrantless search to evaluate if a reasonable officer, at that point and time, would believe that it is urgent to act and impractical to secure a warrant. Courts may also consider other factors such as whether the suspect was possibly armed, planning to escape, or whether the police officer believed that his safety or the safety of others was threatened. Exigent circumstances also exist during the hot pursuit of a suspect who was possibly involved in a crime and in the process of fleeing.
In most cases, if there are no exigent circumstances, police need a warrant to search property regardless if it is a house or car. This, however, has changed somewhat in Pennsylvania in the last few years when our Commonwealths’ Supreme Court ruled that police could search a car based on nothing more than probable cause. In that decision (Commonwealth vs. Gary); the Supreme Court basically said that the car is itself an exigent circumstance because it is easily moved after an arrest regardless of whether the police could impound it.
With the Gary decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that if the police could establish probable cause, they could search the car. As written in previous articles, probable cause is the reasonable belief, based on an officer’s training and experience that a crime has occurred or is occurring. While this was a major change in Pennsylvania, it was always a standard at the federal level and in many state courts like New Jersey and New York. The search of a car, however, is much different than the search of a house.
Courts have a much easier time justifying the search of an automobile or vehicle that travels on public roads and is highly regulated. States like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, like so many others, regulate the operation of motor vehicles and cars on the roads. This is one of the primary reasons why courts treat vehicles much different than houses. The regulation of cars (inspections, insurance) translates into a lower expectation of privacy in one’s car than in one’s home.
The issue of an illegal search and seizure is litigated in a criminal court during a motion to suppress evidence where the burden is always on the Commonwealth (prosecution) to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that probable cause existed. Even if probable cause exists, the prosecution must also establish that exigent circumstances existed in most cases (other than a Gary situation) to excuse the need for a search warrant. The burden is on the prosecution to present clear and convincing evidence that the circumstances surrounding the opportunity to search were truly exigent and that the exigency was in no way attributable to a decision by police to forego the need for a warrant.
To determine whether exigent circumstance exist in the case of a house search, a court will consider the following factors:
- Gravity of the offense;
- Whether the suspect is believed to be armed;
- Whether there is a above and beyond a clear showing of probable cause;
- Whether there is strong reason to believe that the suspect is within the premises being entered;
- Whether there is a likelihood that the suspect will escape if not swiftly apprehended;
- Whether the entry was made peaceable;
- Time of the entry
The law pertaining to search and seizure remains focused on the balance of protecting the right of individuals to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and protecting the safety of citizens and police officers by allowing police to make limited intrusions on citizens while investigating crimes. For more information on criminal defense strategies and tactics, please visit our free download section and keep reading our blog.
8. When must your attorney argue that your right against illegal search and seizure was violated?
A Motion to Suppress Evidence is a powerful pre-trial motion which attempts to exclude often extremely incriminating evidence, which, more than likely, will lead to a conviction. Examples of this type of evidence would include illegal narcotics, drugs, guns, firearms, money, or other items used to commit a crime. The basis of this pre-trial motion is a person’s constitutional right against illegal search and seizure, which is in the United States Constitution as well as each individual state’s constitution.
The right against illegal search and seizure is contained in the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which, through the Fourteenth Amendment entitles all people to due process under the law. Due process deals with the administration of justice and is a safeguard against the arbitrary denial of life, liberty, and property by the government. The Pennsylvania Constitution provides protection against illegal search and seizure under Article 1, Section 8, while New Jersey also provides this protection under Article 1, Paragraph 7, of its Constitution.
9. What is the difference between actual and constructive possession of contraband?
What is actual vs. constructive possession in Pennsylvania and New Jersey?
Actual possession is when the alleged contraband is found on the suspect’s person. Constructive possession is when the item is found in the persons area of immediate control. It is very important to understand that your criminal defense lawyer must have a strong command of this concept because it is often critical in any trial involving individuals who often face felony convictions and the possibility of State prison. In New Jersey, for example, most gun crimes involve mandatory minimum sentencing. While Pennsylvania does not carry mandatory minimum sentencing in cases, nevertheless, people face serious jail terms in Pennsylvania following a conviction for a gun crime.
When should your criminal defense lawyer make the constructive possession argument?
A strong constructive possession argument is often made when the contraband is found in a trunk or perhaps in a container where several people have access to the said container. Your criminal defense lawyer should make all arguments because the burden is on the State (Commonwealth) to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the standard in all criminal Courts across the United States.
It is important that your criminal attorney evaluate actual constructive possession and form arguments around these concepts. If you have questions about these concepts, you should ask your criminal defense lawyer and that person should be able to explain them to you in a clear and concise manner.
Actual and constructive possession is also an argument that can assist with bail both in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Pennsylvania’s bail system is based on a monetary amount and New Jersey is based on a Public Safety Assessment (PSA). The factors which determine bail are danger to the community, potential flight risk and of the allegations made against the individual.
10. Why do you tell people not to make statements, written or verbal, to police. How could it make your case worse?
Our criminal defense law firm represents person charged with crimes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. These crimes involve allegations of drunk driving, illegal drug, narcotics, and possession of illegal guns and firearms. We always advise people to respect police and law enforcement but to never give consent to search their vehicle, their home or property. In addition to not giving consent to search, a person should never speak to police without a lawyer present. Providing information other than your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance will never help your case! This is a critical criminal defense concept that most people overlook!
Everyone has a 5th amendment right against self-incrimination and a 6th amendment right to counsel (attorney). All of these rights are contained within a person’s Miranda warnings which police are required to give you prior to an arrest. Keep in mind, however, that your Miranda rights are only required if you under arrest and there a plenty of situations where people make incriminating statements prior an arrest.
There are 3 types of police interactions:
- -Mere Encounter
- -Investigative Detention
- -Custodial Interrogation
When do your Miranda Rights Apply?
Miranda only applies to custodial interrogations but you can obviously make a statement to police at any level of interaction between you and police. If you do speak to police and then later attempt to challenge the admissibility of that statement, keep in mind that most courts will find that an investigative detention moves to a custodial interrogation if police begin asking questions which could elicit incriminating statements and you don’t feel free to leave. You don’t necessarily have to be under arrest, in handcuffs, or in a police car. In these situations, the prosecution must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the waiver of your constitutional rights (Miranda) is knowing and intelligent.
This basically means that the Court’s analysis has two distinct dimensions.
First the relinquishment of the right must be voluntary in the sense that it was the product of a free and deliberate choice rather than intimidation, coercion or deception. Second, the waiver of right against self-incrimination must have been made with a full awareness both of the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it (Miranda). Only if the “totality of the circumstances” surrounding the interrogation reveal both an uncoerced choice and the requisite level of comprehension may a court properly conclude that Miranda rights have been waived.”
To determine voluntariness, a Criminal Court will look at the following factors:
- the duration and means of the interrogation;
- the physical and psychological state of the accused;
- the conditions attendant to the detention (in a police car, an interrogation room);
- the attitude of the interrogator;
- and any and all other factors that could drain a person’s ability to withstand suggestion and coercion.
Finally, the circumstances of whether a defendant voluntarily waived his Miranda rights and his rights against self incrimination depends on the particular facts of each case. These circumstances include the background, experience, and conduct of the accused. A criminal court will consider all of these factors but my best advice is to simply not make any statements to police. Speaking to police will only prolong their investigation and potentially lead to additional charges or police discovering incriminating evidence.
It’s important to understand that in most cases, police officers need probable cause to stop a car but courts, in and out of Pennsylvania have allowed police officers to stop the car with less than probable cause to investigate possible DUIs or other impediments on a person’s ability to drive safely. After the car is stopped, there is no clear rule on how long an investigation may last but police officers are permitted to extend the time of the vehicle or pedestrian stop if they can’t continue to develop a reasonable and articulable suspicion of criminal activity that expands the scope of an investigation beyond the initial reason for the stop.
Keep in mind that the officer doesn’t have to articulate specific criminal activity but only the suspicion of criminal conduct or items that might imply criminal conduct.
A court, therefore, in determining the reasonableness of an investigation may consider the following:
- A driver and passengers conflicting stories
- Certain Smells (alcohol, drugs)
- Inconsistent statements
- Nervousness (to some degree)
- The lack of luggage (if the driver says he is traveling)
- Non-criminal items used in criminal activity (plastic bags, twist ties, scales)
- A driver’s consent to search
Since there is no exact amount of time in which an officer must complete an investigation, it is important to always remain silent and not allow police to search your vehicle or your person. Never give consent to search! Further, don’t volunteer any information and don’t elaborate or attempt to engage the officer in a conversation since this will only extend the investigation. The longer that the police officer investigates you and the incident surrounding the stop, the greater chance that you will be arrested and charged—he is trying build the foundation for an arrest!
At the end of the day, if you’re arrested it’s important to continue to remain silent and don’t make any statement without an attorney. Even if police find an illegal item in your car, don’t say anything about it; just let them arrest you—don’t try to explain it to them.
Our criminal defense law firm wishes you a Happy New Year and nothing but health and success in 2023!
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Please click here to contact our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers. We offer free case reviews and serve the following areas in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Atlantic City, Camden, Cherry Hill, Chester, Conshohocken, Doylestown, Media, Norristown, Philadelphia, Pottstown, Salem, Upper Darby, Upper Merion, Upper Providence, Vineland & Woodbury areas.