Centre County Drug Case – Pipe Was a Pipe, Not a Marijuana Pipe

Paraphernalia Charges Dismissed and Expunged

The client was a Penn State student that was walking across campus near the East Hall dorms with two friends. An officer approached the group from behind and detected an odor that something had been burning, but the Penn State officer did not clearly identify the odor as burning marijuana. The Penn State officer conducted an investigative detention of the three Penn State students, and the officer asked the three men to empty their pockets. The client provided the officer with a package of a synthetic version of marijuana that was lawful to possess at the time, and the pipe that he had been using. The Penn State officer field tested the package of synthetic marijuana, and it tested negative for marijuana. However, the Penn State officer also field tested the pipe, and the results were positive for the presence of marijuana. The client was charged with Possession of Paraphernalia, 35 P.S. 780-113(a)(32), based upon the positive test result for the pipe.

The client retained experienced State College criminal defense attorney Jason S. Dunkle to provide representation in this Centre County drug case. At the preliminary hearing, Attorney Dunkle argued that scientific studies have shown that the field test used by the officer is not very accurate and often produced incorrect results for marijuana tests. The district attorney forwarded the pipe to the Pennsylvania State Police for forensic testing, and the test results evidenced that the pipe had not been used to ingest marijuana. After receiving the results, the experienced drug defense attorney requested that the district attorney dismissed the charge. The district attorney refused to dismiss the charge and claimed that the pipe constituted a marijuana pipe and was paraphernalia regardless of the negative test for marijuana.

State College criminal defense attorney Jason S. Dunkle filed a pre-trial motion and sought suppression of evidence-based upon constitutional violations and sought a dismissal of the charge based upon the negative lab test result for marijuana. Attorney Dunkle was prepared to argue that a pipe is simply a pipe until it is used to ingest marijuana; therefore, as the pipe, in this case, was not used to ingest marijuana, it did not constitute paraphernalia. Prior to appearing before a Centre County judge for a hearing on the motion to dismiss the paraphernalia charge, the district attorney agreed to dismiss the case. The State College drug defense lawyer then filed an expungement petition to have the dismissed charges expunged from the client’s criminal record.