State College Marijuana and Paraphernalia Possession Case – Warrantless Entry Into Apartment

Evidence of Marijuana and Paraphernalia Suppressed

Client was a Penn State student that resided in a down State College apartment. State College police smelled marijuana coming from Client’s apartment as they walked in the hallway. Client’s apartment had a back door exit onto a roof. The police thought Client may flee, so they radioed for backup officers to cover the back door. Police then knocked on front door. Client began to exit back door, but, upon seeing the police, he re-entered his apartment and sat on the couch. The police entered Client’s back door without a warrant and without consent. The police then conducted a “sweep” of the apartment to see if other people were present. During the sweep, the police observed marijuana and paraphernalia. The police then obtained a warrant that allowed them to seize the drug-related items. Client was charged with misdemeanor offenses of Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.

Pre-trial Motion to Suppress Marijuana Evidence

Penn State marijuana possession attorney Jason S. Dunkle filed a pre-trial motion to suppress the drug evidence and argued that the police had violated Client’s constitutional rights when they entered his apartment without a warrant and then conducted the “sweep.” The Centre County District Attorney argued that the poilce did not need a warrant becuase of the “exigent circumstances” exception to the warrant requiement. Exigent circumstances allow the police to enter and conduct a warrantless search to avoid the immediate destruction of evidence, BUT the police are not permitted to create the exigency. Here, the prosecutor argued that if the police did not immediately enter and detain Client, Client may have destroyed the drug evidence, so the police were permitted to enter under exigent circumstances. The defense counter-argued that any exigency that existed was created by the police because they could have obtained a warrant before knocking on the door.  The Centre County judge agreed with the defense argument and found that the police had created the exigency, so the exigent circumstances exception did not apply.  Therefore, the poilce needed to obtain a warrant before entering Client’s apartment. The warrantless entry violated Client’s constitutional rights, so the judge suppressed all evidence. The Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia charges were dismissed.  The records of the incident were then destroyed via the expungement process.