FREE CONSULTATIONS

Email or Call (215) 564-0644

    Philadelphia Criminal Lawyer – Reasonable Suspicion vs. Probable Cause in Drug Cases

    Many defendants in Philadelphia drug cases are often arrested after law enforcement finds drugs on their person or in their cars or homes during a search.  If the police conducted the search without a legally valid reason, then the drugs found may be suppressed resulting in the case being withdrawn by the prosecution.

    Related: Prosecution withdraws Philadelphia drug case after top rated Philadelphia criminal lawyer files a Motion to Suppress.  Read more about this recent Philadelphia drug case.

    There are two standards related to search and seizure in Philadelphia drug cases:

    1. reasonable suspicion, and
    2. probable cause.

    Reasonable Suspicion

    Reasonable suspicion is when an officer has sufficient knowledge to believe that criminal activity is at hand.  In terms of the burden of proof, this standard is lower than probable cause.  Whether a police officer has reasonable suspicion to conduct a search depends on the totality of the circumstances.  The court will apply this objective standard based on what the officer observed and the officer’s experience in the area.

    Reasonable suspicion allows stops and questioning by officers to explore their reasonable suspicions that criminal activity is afoot, i.e., the person being stopped was involved in a crime or is about to commit a crime. This is known as a Terry Stop.  If the stop and frisk gives rise to probable cause that a crime was committed, then the police officer can make an arrest and conduct a search of an individual.

    For instance, a police officer dressed in uniform walks by a group of individuals in a high crime area in Philadelphia.  As the police officer gets closer, one of the individuals looks at the police officer and starts to run away.  The police officer has made numerous drug arrests in the area and knows that corner is often a place to sell drugs.  The police officer then chases after the individual, stops the individual and proceeds to pat him down.  The officer cannot search the person; he can only pat him down.  During the pat down, if the police officer feels a gun bulge and/or an object that is similar to a meth bag, the police officer now has probable cause to search the individual.  However, if during the pat down, the police feels nothing, then he cannot search the individual.

    If it is found that the stop and pat down of the individual is unreasonable, then all evidence found resulting from the Terry Stop can be excluded.

    Continue to part II for an article about probable cause.

    Help From an Experienced Criminal Lawyer in Philadelphia

    David S. Nenner has been a Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer for over 25 years.  He is an experienced trial lawyer and was named a “Top Rated Criminal Defense Attorney in Philadelphia” by Super Lawyers.  Mr. Nenner always offers FREE consultations.  215.564.0644

    David S. Nenner

    "Top Rated Criminal Defense Lawyer"
    (2015-2022)

    MURDER, Att. Murder CHARGES – Negotiated Significantly Lower prison sentence (Feb. 2022, PHILA)

    Mr. Anderson faced murder and attempted murder charges after an incident in Northeast Philadelphia involving the shooting death of Anderson’s sister’s boyfriend and the boyfriend’s roommate who was shot 5 times and survived. The decedent had previously beaten the...

    Att. MURDER CHARGES – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (April 2022, PHILA)

    The Commonwealth alleged that Mr. Shelton shot and seriously injured a male in a bar in North Philadelphia called Circles. There was video of the shooting which happened outside the bar. However, Mr. Nenner presented witnesses who testified that the person in the bar...

    MURDER, Robbery CHARGES – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (MAY 2021, PHILA)

    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...

    MURDER CHARGE – NOT GUILTY JURY VERDICT (MAY 2021, PHILA)

    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.

    Drug Charges in Philadelphia PA State Court – Possession of a Controlled Substance

    In most criminal drug cases in Philadelphia, there are two common charges or offenses: Possession of a Controlled Substance and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver. In addition to these drug charges, there are other drug related charges, such...

    Drug Charges in Philadelphia PA State Court – What is “Possession”

    Page last reviewed and updated: October 20, 2019 One of the most common types of criminal state (PA) cases in Philadelphia is possession of drugs. Possession of a Controlled Substance (PCS) and Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver (PWID) often...

    Pennsylvania Second Degree Murder (AKA: Felony Murder) Law

    Philadelphia criminal lawyer David S. Nenner discusses the current status of second degree murder law in Pennsylvania. This is also known as the felony murder rule. Get info about PA court decisions and the agency theory. Not every case of death during the commission of a felony will result in a second degree murder conviction in PA.

    Philadelphia Murder Cases – Police Investigation Tactics

    Questioning Police Officer Tactics in Philadelphia Murder Cases Within the last 10 years, there have been several murder Philadelphia criminal cases in which the accused individuals were acquitted of the crimes. In these cases, the individuals spent months, if not...

    Murder Charges in Pennsylvania – Murder Law in Pennsylvania

    An explanation of Pennsylvania murder laws including Section 2502. What is murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree and murder in the third degree. Get a summary of the definitions under Pennsylvania criminal law.