Massachusetts recently repealed a law that had been on the books for almost 30 years which imposed a license suspension for drug possession crimes even though the offenses had nothing to do with driving or a vehicle. According to a Boston Herald article, the legislation was actually supported by law enforcement and passed unanimously by both the House and Senate before being signed by the governor.
Another Pennsylvania county has recognized that rehabilitative and therapeutic courts are a great way to treat addiction and thereby reduce recidivism. While drug addiction has always been a problem, the type of people who are becoming addicted is changing. Addiction has often been viewed as primarily affecting the lower class of citizens, but more and more middle and upper class people are becoming hooked on painkillers like OxyContin and Percocet after being prescribed the medications following a surgery or injury. After the doctor refuses to renew the prescription, the person either purchases the narcotics illegally or switches to other drugs like heroin. Other people are unable to afford the drugs, so they may resort to burglarizing homes and stealing prescription medications, or they may steal money or other items to sell to get money to buy the drugs. Aside from drug possession and drug delivery charges, many drug addicts face charges such as burglary, theft, and receiving stolen property. The victims in many theft cases are family and friends of the drug addict who simply want their friend or family member to get help.
When someone references a "Good Samaritan" law, I am reminded of the Seinfeld episode that put the group behind bars because they failed to help a person that was in trouble. The law in the show required a person to render aid, and the failure to help was a crime. In reality, Good Samaritan laws actually insulate a person from criminal liability if the person tries to help another person that needs medical attention.
According to a Palm Beach Post article, a Florida woman, who had been arrested for suspicion of DUI, was handcuffed and seated in the police cruiser when marijuana evidence that had been found in the woman's car disappeared from the police cruiser. The officer is quoted as saying "bags of weed just don't go missing inside a police car." The officer used his investigative skills and deductive reasoning to realize that if he didn't take the marijuana, then the woman handcuffed in the back of his cruiser must have. He questioned the woman about whether or not she had escaped from her cuffs and had eaten the drug evidence, and she admitted to having broken free from her restraints. The article also mentions that the woman had pot on her face and hands, so the weed crumbs provided additional evidence about the disappearance of the marijuana. I'm sure that most of us have seen milk mustaches and cookie crumbs on the faces of our children, but I doubt that we have witnessed marijuana crumbs on someone's face.
I am sure that many people have seen that Philadelphia is in the process of de-criminalizing the possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana for personal use. Decriminalization does not mean that marijuana possession is now completely legal in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania laws that prohibit the possession of marijuana for personal use are still valid and enforceable across the state of Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia. The Philadelphia law adds a civil, meaning non-criminal charge, of marijuana possession that can be filed by the officer. It is up to the officer whether he or she issues a civil citation for possession of less than 30 grams of weed or instead files the misdemeanor criminal charge under 35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(31).
While many states have de-criminalized or even legalized marijuana, it is still illegal in Pennsylvania and under federal law. Many people wonder why the federal government does not prosecute people in states like Colorado where marijuana is openly sold and used because of the state law legalizing pot. Years ago, the Department of Justice issued a memo that advised that the federal government would not prosecute marijuana charges if the person using, possessing, or growing marijuana was acting in compliance with states laws. If the person is violating state marijuana laws, then the federal government may still choose to prosecute a case.
For those that don't know, DARE stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education and was an anti-drug program created in the 1980's under the Reagan Administration's War on Drugs. The program has been taught to elementary and high school students by law enforcement officers since then. You can imagine that the police would seek volunteers from the community that would be respected by the kids, such as local college football players. Some Auburn football players recently volunteered to help put on a DARE program in Alabama. In an ironic twist, one of the players, an anticipated starting safety, was caught recently a passenger in a car in which a police officer smelled marijuana. After smelling marijuana in the car that was stopped for speeding, the officer allegedly noticed marijuana shake on the player's lap and a bag of weed nearby. The player was later charged with marijuana possession and was released on a $3,000.00 bond.
I thought that I had heard of almost everything, but a state correctional inmate receiving a marijuana delivery while working on a road crew was a new one. A Florida inmate was working with other inmates when a black Dodge Charger drove by and something was tossed out the window. The inmate picked up the bag, but after seeing police officers approach, the man threw the baggie. In another odd twist, when the man tossed the baggie, it hit a deputy standing nearby. The substance in the baggie was later tested and found to be marijuana.
According to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, a Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney was representing a client charged with drug possession and other offenses at a suppression hearing before an Allegheny County judge, and the lawyer questioned her client's wife about a small wooden box. The wife admitted that the box was hers, and upon opening the box in court, it was discovered that the box contained a straw with heroin residue on the end. The problem for the lawyer is that the straw and box are considered "drug paraphernalia" under Pennsylvania law, which means that it was illegal for the lawyer to be in possession of those items even if the lawyer was introducing the items as evidence at the hearing. The police and prosecutors routinely handle such items in drug delivery and drug possession hearings, but the rules are sometimes different for defense lawyers.
A Washington County judge that once presided over the county's Drug Court program was charged with theft and possession of cocaine. It is alleged that the judge had requested that the police leave drug evidence in his chambers, and the police believe that the judge was stealing the cocaine and, at times, replacing it with baking soda. The police conducted a search of the judge's chambers, and drugs and other evidence were found that the prosecution intends to use at the judge's upcoming drug possession trial. The former judge hired prominent Pittsburgh criminal defense lawyer Robert DelGreco, and Attorney DelGreco filed a motion to suppress the evidence because the police had not obtained a search warrant for the judge's chambers but instead were searching pursuant to an administrative order issued by the President Judge of the county.