Penn State Marijuana Possession and Paraphernalia - Charges Dismissed for Violating Right to a Speedy Trial

Client was smoking marijuana in the freshman dorms on the University Park Campus of Penn State University. The Penn State police were alerted to the odor of burning marijuana emanating from the room, and, after knocking on the door, the police obtained consent from the client to enter and search the dorm room. The search led to the discovery of a small amount of marijuana and some drug paraphernalia. After the incident occurred, but before criminal charges were filed, the client transferred from Penn State. The client was charged with Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia by the Penn State police. When the officer filed the charges, he listed an incorrect mailing address for the client, so the Centre County court mailed the charging paperwork and notice of preliminary hearing to the wrong address.

The client never received the paperwork, so he did not appear at his first hearing. Upon his failure to appear, the Centre County court issued a bench warrant. A few weeks later, the officer called the client, and the client provided the officer with his correct mailing address. Despite having the client's correct mailing address, the Penn State officer never informed the court of the correct mailing address or sought to have the arrest warrant for the client executed by the police near the client's residence. Over two years later, another Penn State officer reviewed the file, contacted the Centre County District Attorney's Office regarding the over 2-year old warrant, and the officer was told to contact the police in the client's area. That day, the client was taken into custody by the local police and transported before a local judge to set bail.

The client retained State College criminal defense attorney Jason S. Dunkle to provide representation in the Penn State possession of marijuana case. Attorney Dunkle filed a pretrial motion to dismiss the charges based upon a violation of the client's right to a speedy trial. The dismissal of the marijuana charges was sought based upon an argument that the police had done nothing to arrest the client for over two years, and the lack of activity by the officers showed that they did not exercise due diligence as is required by law. The Centre County judge agreed with the marijuana possession defense attorney and dismissed the charges. An expungement was then filed with the Centre County court by the criminal defense attorney to have the dismissed charges removed from the Penn State client's record.