Philadelphia drug related cases may be dismissed if the search and seizure of drugs was illegal. In other words, the drug evidence was obtained illegally. There are two standards related to search and seizure. Part I of this article series discusses reasonable suspicion, and part II, below, discusses probable cause.
Probable cause is a level of reasonable belief based on facts that is required for the police to conduct a search. In order for Philadelphia police to arrest someone and conduct a search and seizure, the police must have probable cause to do so. The probable cause standard comes from the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states,
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be searched.
Unlike a Terry Stop, where the police may only search a person through a pat down, police officers may stop and search the person, i.e., a thorough search, if they have probable cause that a crime was committed.
Related: Defenses to Philadelphia Drug Charges – By a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer [This article discusses defenses available to defendants who have been arrested and charged with drug possession and related drug crimes.]
For instance, a police officer is driving through a high crime neighborhood in Philadelphia. As the police officer passes a corner that is known as a place for drug transactions, he sees 2 individuals exchanging money and a bag that appears to be drugs. In this example, the police officer has probable cause to arrest and search the person because all of the facts lead him to a reasonable belief that an individual was selling drugs.
However, if the police officer sees the 2 individuals at the corner, but does not see any exchanges taking place, he does not have probable cause to arrest and conduct a search.
Consult a Top Rated Philadelphia Criminal Lawyer
If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug crime, such as possession or possession with intent to deliver, it is best to talk to a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer. David S. Nenner, Esquire has over 25 years in handling Philadelphia and Pennsylvania drug cases. He always offers FREE initial consultation. Call 215.564.0644 to schedule an appointment.