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May 2014 Archives

Blair County Rules School Zone Sentencing Law Unconstitutional

Following the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Alleyne v. U.S., defense attorneys across the state of Pennsylvania have brought challenges to the constitutionality of various mandatory minimum sentencing laws related to felony drug convictions for delivery and possession with intent to deliver controlled substances. A constitutional challenge to mandatory minimum sentences for drug-free school zone, drug trafficking, and certain drug offenses committed with firearms was recently brought by an Altoona criminal defense attorney in Blair County. The Hollidaysburg judges sat as an en banc panel, meaning that all of the judges considered the issue, and held that the mandatory minimum sentencing laws were unconstitutional.

Man Sentenced to Weekend in Jail for DUI Drives Drunk to Prison

A man in Tennessee drove himself to the local county prison to serve a weekend in prison for a driving under the influence conviction, and the problem was that he was driving drunk again. The local police had received a dispatch report that the man was driving on a suspended license and was also driving while intoxicated. The police located the man's vehicle and followed it all the way to the prison parking lot. At that point, the officer met with the man and believed that the man was under the influence of alcohol. The man was then taken into the prison to perform field sobriety tests. After failing the field sobriety tests, the man was arrested and transported to the local hospital for a blood draw. The man was then charged with a second offense of DUI, and the bail was set at $75,000.00. The man was unable to post the bail, so he will remain incarcerated during the pretrial phase of his case.

Aggravated Assault Charge Added Against Former Penn State Football Player

A former Penn State football player appeared at his preliminary hearing today facing a misdemeanor charge of Simple Assault, and he left facing a felony charge of Aggravated Assault to go along with the Simple Assault. While a person charged with a criminal offense has the right to challenge the charges at a preliminary hearing, prosecutors often issue inducements that cause defense attorneys to recommend that clients waive the preliminary hearing. Sometimes those inducements are positive, meaning tentative plea agreements or  anticipated resolutions are discussed, but in other situations, the prosecutor may use negative inducements, such as a threat to file additional charges or increase bail.

Man Was too Drunk to Get Married, Arrested for Disorderly Conduct

I have heard many stories of a groom getting a bit too drunk at a reception. I have even heard stories of some men having a few drinks to calm their nerves before the actual wedding. An Australian man was recently told by the pastor that the man was too drunk to get married, and the pastor refused to perform the ceremony. The would-be groom disagreed with the pastor and insisted that the pastor complete the marriage ceremony. After the pastor refused, the man  became a little disorderly, and it sounds as if he resisted arrest when the police were summoned.

Twenty Pounds of Marijuana Found During Traffic Stop Near Penn State

Pennsylvania State troopers from the Rockview Barracks in Centre County recently stopped a rented van from Michigan after the driver failed to use a turn signal when switching lanes. During the traffic stop, the police asked the driver if the police could search the van, and the driver consented. The troopers removed two Christmas gifts and a piece of luggage from the van. A drug-sniffing dog was brought to the scene and alerted to the Christmas packages, meaning it was suspected that the packages contained drugs. The packages were then opened, and the troopers found approximately 20 pounds of marijuana.  The man was  arrested, taken before a Centre County judge for a Preliminary Arraignment on charges of Possession With Intent to Deliver Marijuana in violation of 35 P.S. 780-113(a)(30).