Email or Call (215) 564-0644

    Pennsylvania Criminal Charges – Were You Stopped on the Street by Police in Philadelphia or the Nearby Counties?

    ArrestWhether it’s a gun possession or drug dealing case in Philadelphia, Chester or Delaware County, searches and seizures of contraband often happen on the street. Pedestrians who are minding their own business are often stopped by uniformed and plain clothes officers.

    What happens when an officer searches an individual and finds a gun, or when an officer asks an individual whether they have anything illegal on them and the person admits that they do? Can the individual get the charges dismissed due to constitutional law violations, i.e., by filing a Motion to Suppress Evidence?

    Cases accepted in Philadelphia, Delaware, Chester, Lackawanna & Montgomery Counties. FREE CONSULTATIONS (215) 564-0644

    Pennsylvania (State) & Federal Law – When Officers Can Stop People on the Street

    Under both state and federal constitutional laws, police officers are legally allowed to approach citizens and ask questions. This kind of encounter is often referred to as a “mere encounter.” For example, a police officer in Philadelphia is investigating a recent robbery in a certain neighborhood. The officer is allowed to ask members of the public whether they’ve seen anything suspicious or have any information about the recent crime. The same is true of an officer who is walking their beat and stops a random pedestrian to ask about where the person is heading, what they’re doing, etc.

    Related: Traffic Stops – When Can Police Stop a Car in Philadelphia?

    However, once the encounter becomes a detention or seizure, i.e., where a reasonable person wouldn’t feel free to leave, the officer must have reasonable basis to believe that the person is or was involved in a crime.

    No Hard and Fast Rule

    Individuals who were charged with crimes, such as drug possession or dealing, after being stopped by police on the street often want to know whether they can get the charges dismissed based on a constitutional law violation. The answer depends on the facts of the case.

    It isn’t simple to tell the difference between a mere encounter and a detention or seizure. There’s no hard and fast rule. Just because an officer asks to see someone’s ID or driver’s license doesn’t make an encounter into a detention. Rather, Pennsylvania courts look to the circumstances surrounding the encounter/detention, including:

    • police car lights/siren activated,
    • officer had gun drawn,
    • officer requested and obtained the individual’s ID/license,
    • officer ran a warrants check,
    • officer asked about what was in the individual’s pockets or personal items.

    The more factors are present, the better the odds of succeeding in a Motion to Suppress Evidence.

    David S. Nenner

    "Top Rated Criminal Defense Lawyer"


    Mr. Nenner's client was charged with multiple crimes (murder, conspiracy, aggravated assault, robbery, etc.) after a shooting death occurred at a gambling house in North Philadelphia. At trial, Mr. Nenner successfully presented a self-defense argument and convinced...


    Mr. Nenner’s client was charged with murder and gun charges in Philadelphia. The client was accused of shooting and killing another male on Arch Street near the 5600 block of Ithan Street in Philadelphia. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty after deliberating...

    Drug Possession Case – Motion to Suppress Granted

    Mr. Nenner presented evidence that to show that the traffic stop was a pretextual stop. The officer had no reason to pull the car over. The judge agreed and suppressed the evidence. As a result, the prosecution withdrew the charges.

    Attempted Murder Case – Not Guilty Jury Verdict

    Mr. Nenner presented a self-defense argument, and the jury returned a “not guilty” verdict after a 7 day trial in Philadelphia.

    3rd Degree Murder Case – Charges Dismissed for Co-Defendants

    Mr. Nenner represented co-defendants in a shooting death in North Philadelphia. Both cases were ultimately dismissed.

    Philadelphia Criminal Trials – Evidence Pointing to Another Perpetrator in Drug Possession or Drug Manufacture Cases

    In criminal trials in Philadelphia, one pretty common defense tactic is pointing the finger at another person at trial. This can raise enough doubt to result in a not guilty verdict by the judge or jury that the defendant was not the perpetrator of the crime. Here’s...

    Philadelphia Murder & Gun Possession Cases Increasing in 2021 – A Look at Common Charges & Defenses

    A look at PA criminal law for Murder (1st, 2nd, 3rd Degree), Aggravated Assault, Robbery, Possession of a Firearm, Carrying a Firearm Without a License, Carrying a Firearm in Philadelphia (misdemeanor).

    Pennsylvania Murder Charges, Deceased Person’s Statements Used to Prove Guilt

    Defense Trial Strategies – Excluding Statements That Accuse the Defendant Prosecutors often look to a deceased individual’s statements made prior to a murder to show that the defendant is guilty. These statements may point to a history of violence between the deceased...

    Pennsylvania (State) Drug Charges, Dog Sniffs & Constitutional Law

    Federal and Pennsylvania state courts treat narcotics dog searches differently. So different that the same scenario could result in different outcomes in federal versus state court. For example, a Philadelphia resident is pulled over for speeding. During the traffic...

    Dog Sniff Searches of Cars in Pennsylvania Traffic Stops (Federal Law)

    Dog or canine searches of cars during traffic stops in PA often lead to drug possession/dealing charges and gun charges. For example, a police officer pulls over a driver for speeding. During the traffic stop, a canine search is performed revealing several bags of...