On April 29th, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that police officers in the Commonwealth no longer need a warrant to search a citizens' vehicle. Prior to the Court's decision, an individual could refuse an officer's request to search their vehicle. If the citizen refused, the police would typically need a warrant to continue with the search.
When a client comes to me regarding a minor criminal defense matter, one of the greatest concerns they have is what impact a possible conviction can have on their criminal record and if the incident can be expunged. A person's criminal record can be expunged under a number of circumstances and will depend on the type of crime a person commits and the outcome of the case.
When I recently wrote a post about the circumstances surrounding and consequences of possessing a fake ID as a minor, it got me thinking about the other side of the fake ID process, the provider. Under Pennsylvania law, making, altering, selling or attempting to sell identification that represents the identity, birth date or age of someone else is a second degree misdemeanor. This puts it on par with certain theft and drug crimes.
When a client comes to me with a child that was caught and cited with underage drinking, that child often possessed a fake ID when he or she was arrested or cited. Regardless of whether or not the minor used the ID to purchase alcohol, it is illegal in the Commonwealth to possess an identification card that falsely identifies that person by name, age, date of birth, or photograph as being 21 years of age or older. Therefore, even if a minor simply has the fake ID and hasn't used it, he or she cnuld be found guilty of a crime.
It seems as though it has become increasingly common to hear about college students getting busted for marijuana possession. Each year, there seem to be more and more college athletes being suspended by their university or questioned by professional teams when entering the draft regarding "character issues" following a failed drug test because of marijuana use. The consequences of being caught with marijuana on those students, however, are very different than the average student.
There has been no bigger legal issue placed under the microscope in the previous months than Florida's new "stand your ground" law. Unless you live under a rock, you've probably heard the name Trayvon Martin. He was killed by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, after the two encountered each other on the street one evening. According to Florida's new law, a person is justified in using force against another when the person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to defend himself against another person's imminent use of unlawful force. However, if a person reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm, he or she may use deadly force for protection from that harm or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony.