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Important decisions that could affect your case.

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Recent Decisions

Every day, rulings are made at the Federal, State, and Local levels that could affect the outcome of your case.

Staying up to date on recent decisions can help you understand your rights, and how to protect them.

Guilty Plea on Immigration Proceedings

Lee v. United States, No. 16-327, 2017 U.S. LEXIS 4045 (Jun. 23, 2017).

The Supreme Court recently held in the Lee v. United States, No. 16-327, 2017 U.S. LEXIS 4045 (Jun. 23, 2017) that an attorney was ineffective when he advised his client that he would not be deported after a guilty plea to possession with intent to distribute.

It is extremely important to seek the legal advice of an attorney regarding the criminal implications of any conviction but also consulting with an immigration attorney when on how that conviction will impact one’s immigration status. Our firm works closely with immigration counsel to ensure that clients are fully informed before making a decision with such grave consequences.

Pennsylvania Mandatory Minimum Demise

Commonwealth v. Newman

This week the Superior Court of Pennsylvania issued an opinion in Commonwealth v. Newman that 2014 Pa Super 178 that Alleyne v. U.S. renders 42 Pa.C.S.A. sec. 9712.1 unconstitutional. § 9712.1. Sentences for certain drug offenses committed with firearms.

(a) Mandatory sentence.–Any person who is convicted of a violation of section 13(a)(30) of the act of April 14, 1972(P.L.233, No.64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, when at the time of the offense the person or the person’s accomplice is in physical possession or control of a firearm, whether visible, concealed about the person or the person’s accomplice or within the actor’s or accomplice’s reach or in close proximity to the controlled substance, shall likewise be sentenced to a minimum sentence of at least five years of total confinement.

The significance of this case is clear because it will undoubtedly carry over to the mandatories associated with non-firearm drug weight cases. This is a welcomed shift that takes the sentencing restrictions out of the legislature and back to the sentencing court where it belongs.

Consenting to a Blood Draw

Commonwealth v. Smith

Whenever an individual allows an officer to perform a specific action such as searching one’s car or allowing him or her to draw blood to test for toxicology there are potential criminal repercussions. While many may think this is fairly obvious, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has recently addressed this in Commonwealth v. Smith (decided on 9/25/13).

According to the court, the police were not required to receive consent unless the police would have had to use deceit, misrepresentation, or coercion in seeking consent for the blood draw and testing. In Smith, the Court found that factually this did not apply and reversed the lower’s Court’s findings that the evidence from the blood draw should be suppressed.

This reinforces a common theme that individuals must be aware that their own actions which provide can consent can have serious criminal implications. In many cases, this act of consent can be the sole basis that supports the filing of criminal charges. You want to speak with an attorney that specializes in handling DUI cases before consenting to such actions.

Read the decision

Police Officer Lacking Probable Cause for DUI Stop

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Appellee v. Dick H. McCandless, Appellant

Appellant was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and driving in excess of speed limits. Appellant sought suppression of the results of a blood alcohol test and various statements that he gave. The trial court granted the suppression on the basis that the officer’s pursuit of appellant from the city into the neighboring municipality was improper under 42Pa. Cons. Stat. § 8953(a).

The lower court reversed the trial court’s decision. On appeal, the court reversed the lower court and granted the motion to suppress. The court held that the officer’s observation that appellant’s vehicle was traveling faster than other vehicles that had traveled on the same road was not probable cause to believe that an offense was committed within his primary jurisdiction.

The officer was unable to estimate the speed of appellant’s vehicle before it entered the neighboring jurisdiction and, therefore, he did not have probable cause to pursue appellant into that jurisdiction.