State College Marijuana Possession Case – Search of Client After Public Urination in Downtown State College

Evidence Suppressed in State College Marijuana Possession Case

Client was detained by the police after he was caught unrinating downtown State College. The officer clearly had a reason to detain and investigate the urination incident, but the officer also conducted a patdown search of Client. During the search, the officer felt something in the Client’s pocket. The officer pulled the item from Client’s pocket and discovered that it was marijuana. Client was charged with a misdemeanor offese of Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana.

State College Marijuana Possession Lawyer

State College criminal defense attorney Jason S. Dunkle filed a pre-trial motion to suppress the marijuana evidence and argued that the warrantless search of Client violated his constitutional rights. In order to conduct a patdown search, the police must have reason to believe that a person is “armed and dangerous.” Here, while Client broke the law by urinating in public, that offense did not give the officer a reason to think that Client was armed and dangerous. The defense attorney also argued that the seizure of the marijuana did not fall under the “plain feel” exception to the warrant requirement.  With “plain feel,” the police are able to seize items withotu a warrant if the incriminating nature of the contraband is immediately apparent to the office. Basically, the officer needs to testify that he touched the item and immediately knew that it was contraband or illegal. The Centre County District Attorney argued Client had been arrested for public urination, so the officer conducted a search incident to arrest. At the suppression hearing, the officer testified that he did not handcuff Client, did not transport Client, and did not charge Client immediately, so Client was not actually arrested. The officer also admitted that he did not immediately know that the baggy that he pulled from Client’s pocket contained marijuana based upon touching the bag, so the officer admitted that his search did not fall under the “plain feel” exception. The Centre County judge ruled that the warrantless search violated Client’s constitutional rights and suppressed the marijuana evidence. The prosecutor dismissed the charge of Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana. Expungement paperwork was filed to have records of the marijuana charge removed from Client’s records.