In drug cases in Delaware County and Chester County, one of the most important questions is whether the police illegally searched or seized drug evidence. Typically, drug cases are filed after evidence is seized during a traffic stop or during the stop of a citizen on the street. If police acted illegally, some or all of the charges may be dismissed.
The Pennsylvania criminal law article below discusses the most common scenarios involving drug charges filed against residents of Delaware County or Chester County, PA. If you’d like to speak to firm founder David S. Nenner about your drug charges including possession or distribution, contact us for a FREE consultation. (215) 564-0644
Pulled Over – Did Police Illegally Search Your Car?
Drug charges in Delaware or Chester County are often filed after a traffic violation. During traffic stops, officers often search drivers and passengers, as well as the inside of the car, trunk, etc. If drugs are found, drivers will face drug possession or drug distribution charges.
Here are some basic Pennsylvania search and seizure law principles that apply to car searches in drug cases.
Once pulled over, constitutional law requires an officer to issue a traffic violation in a timely manner. Without any other evidence to suggest that a crime is being committed, an officer isn’t allowed to extend a traffic stop beyond the time it takes to issue the ticket.
During the time it takes to issue a traffic summons, an officer can investigate a crime if the officer sees, hears or smells anything that suggests a crime.
If the officer sees contraband in plain view, the officer would have probable cause to arrest the driver.
Read more about search and seizure law for traffic stops.
Stopped on Street & Frisked – Did Police Have the Legal Right to Stop You?
Police officers in Delaware and Chester County often stop citizens on the street and ask questions about crimes. Simply asking a citizen questions about criminal activity isn’t illegal. For example, two officers in Chester are investigating a recent home robbery. They are canvassing the neighborhood and ask folks on the street if they’ve seen or heard anything unusual.
However, once a stop becomes a restriction of movement or freedom, the officer must have legal justification. A restriction of movement can be physically blocking the person from moving, frisking or patting the person’s body, searching the person’s pockets, etc.
Using the example above, let’s say the two officers who are canvassing the streets stop a local resident who looks nervous. One officer grabs the resident by the arm and pulls him away from the street and back onto the sidewalk and asks whether he has any drugs or weapons in his pockets. Here, in order to physically restrain the Chester County resident, the officers would have been required to have reasonable suspicion that the individual was engaged in criminal activity. Looking nervous isn’t enough to justify police action. Read more about stop and frisk law in drug cases.
Criminal Lawyer – Drug Charges in Delco and Chester Counties
Nenner Law is a Philadelphia criminal law firm which handles drug charge cases in Delaware, Chester & Montgomery counties. Call for a FREE consultation. (215) 564-0644