Centre County Drug Case – Warrantless Entry of an Apartment in Downtown State College

State College Marijuana Possession and Paraphernalia Charges Dismissed and Expunged

The client was a Penn State student that resided in the Penn Towers apartment building in downtown State College. State College police officers had been patrolling the hallways of the apartment building when they detected the odor of marijuana emanating from the client’s apartment door. The police radioed for backup as they felt that the client may try to flee out the back door of his apartment. The client’s apartment had a back entrance with sliding glass doors that led to a balcony, and the balcony led to the streets of State College. The backup police officers went to the client’s back door, at which point two other officers knocked on the client’s front door. A State College police officer knocked on the front door, identified himself as law enforcement. The client exited the State College apartment through the back sliding glass door, but, after seeing the two officers approaching, the client returned to his apartment and sat on the couch. The police officers on the back deck then entered the apartment through the back door, detained the client, and allowed the officers to enter through the front door.

The State College police then conducted a warrantless search of the apartment to ensure that no other persons were present. During the warrantless search, the officers noticed what appeared to be prescription medication, marijuana, and other drug-related paraphernalia. The police then sought issuance of a search warrant from a State College District Judge, and, after obtaining the warrant, seized the suspected drugs and paraphernalia. The client was charged with Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Centre County.

Pre-trial Motion to Suppress Marijuana Evidence Filed

The client was represented by experienced Penn State marijuana possession defense attorney Jason S. Dunkle during the pre-trial phase of the case. The defense lawyer filed a pre-trial motion to suppress the marijuana and paraphernalia evidence. He argued that initial warrantless entry and search of the client’s apartment violated the client’s constitutional rights. The Centre County District Attorney argued that exigent circumstances existed to allow the State College police to enter and search the apartment without a warrant. The State College drug defense lawyer countered that any exigency was created by the police as they could have secured a warrant based upon the odor of marijuana during the time they waited for backup officers to arrive. The Centre County judge agreed with the drug defense lawyer’s argument and suppressed evidence found during the search of the client’s State College apartment. The charges of Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia were dismissed by the Centre County District Attorney’s Office. The criminal defense lawyer filed an expungement petition to have the charges expunged from the client’s criminal record.