“SCRATCHED, BUT LEGIBLE” is not “ALTERED” when it comes to firearm serial numbers.

The PA Supreme Court has held that the possession of a firearm with a scratched, but still legible, manufacturer’s number is not sufficient to sustain a conviction for possession of a firearm with an “altered” manufacturer’s number in violation of 18 Pa.C.S § 6110.2.  After a vehicle stop and subsequent search of the vehicle Smith […]

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Statements made to undercover officer were testimonial and should not have been admitted at Defendant’s trial.

The PA Superior Court has decided the case of Commonwealth v. Lu, No. 2658 EDA 2017 (Pa. Super. November 13, 2019), holding that the trial court erred by admitting the testimonial statement of a witness who was unavailable at trial since Lu did not have the opportunity to cross-examine her. Lu appealed from the judgment of sentence of […]

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COURT MUST FIRST DETERMINE ABILITY TO PAY BEFORE ORDERING RESTITUTION AS A CONDITION OF PROBATION

The PA Superior Court recently decided the case of Commonwealth v. Whatley, No. 1820 WDA 2017 (Pa. Super. 10/18/2019), holding that the trial court’s failure to determine Whatley’s ability to actually pay the $50,0000 restitution ordered by the trial court rendered the sentence an illegal sentence.  Whatley entered a negotiated guilty plea to two counts of […]

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DON’T “WAIVE” YOUR APPELLATE ISSUE GOODBYE

In a recent case before the PA Supreme Court, the Appellant, Scott Bishop, argued that the PA Supreme Court “should interpret the provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution conferring upon individuals a right against self-incrimination to provide greater protection than the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of the […]

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IS THAT WEED I SMELL, OR A CHANGE IN THE LAW? (Hint: The law in PA has not changed … yet.)

In the ever-evolving body of law surrounding the legalization of marijuana, the Pa. Superior Court has recently rejected the argument that, because marijuana is now medically available in Pennsylvania, police officers may no longer rely upon its smell as a factor for developing probable cause. In the case at issue, police received an anonymous tip that […]

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PA SUPREME COURT: OPERATORS OF COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLES HAVE A LESSER EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY THAN THE GENERAL PUBLIC

The PA Supreme Court has recently decided the case of Commonwealth v. Maguire, No. 41 MAP 2018 (Pa. August 22, 2019),holding that statutorily authorized warrantless inspections of commercial vehicles do not need to comply with the Tarbert/Blouse guidelines (which gauge the constitutionality of safety checkpoints to which the entire public are subjected); rather, they are to be […]

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NEXT BLOG: in ct … bored … judge yelling at me … blah blah blah … hahaha :) … gotta go … uh oh #seeyouin10days :(

The PA Superior Court today upheld the conviction of an Allegheny County Juvenile Court Probation Officer (JPO) for contempt of court, letting stand the 5-10 days sentence that was ultimately imposed by the trial court. The contemptuous conduct arose when the 19-year veteran JPO was sitting in the front row of the general seating area […]

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