Heroin Overdose Cases

A major focus of law-enforcement recent years and especially in recent months has been in preventing heroin overdose deaths from occurring. Heroin overdose cases have become an epidemic that law-enforcement, legislators and the communities at large are trying to combat. With the vicious effects of a heroin overdose, people must act fast. It is not uncommon to have two users together when one of them overdoses. Many times, people would be fearful to report the overdoses for fear of prosecution in the matter – and people would lose their lives. Recently, legislation has been enacted which is aimed at ending these types of situations and deaths and stopping the risk of certain criminal charges in these situations.

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Contact Chester County Criminal Lawyer Mike DiCindio to discuss your case today

The recently enacted law permits individuals to call law-enforcement, emergency medical services or 911 and report a heroin overdose. If they provide their name and identifying information and stay with the individual who is overdosing they will be immune for prosecution for certain minor offenses (those are enumerated in the amended law) and the individual who overdoses is also immune. It should not be viewed and is not intended to be viewed as a license to commit illegal conduct, instead, it is aimed at helping to minimize the frequency of deaths from heroin overdoses.

If you or a loved one has been arrested or prosecuted in the circumstance that seems similar to the one described above contact criminal defense lawyer DiCindio Law, LLC today law speak in detail to Mike DiCindio about the facts and circumstances and determine whether or not the amended legislation applies to your specific situation.


 

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Holiday Season = Parties, Drinks and DUI Checkpoints

Chester County DUI Lawyer

If arrested at a Chester County DUI checkpoint contact Mike DiCindio Chester County DUI Lawyer

With the holiday season fast approaching it is important to be aware that police officers in Chester County and elsewhere in the surrounding areas will be conducting DUI checkpoints. Police utilize sobriety checkpoints in their effort to enforce the drunk driving laws in the state, arrest impaired drivers and keep the roads safer for others. While they may seem completely discretionary and random,  in Pennsylvania sobriety checkpoints must conform to judicially created guidelines in order to be constitutional.

When the police decide that they want to conduct a DUI checkpoint, there is a process and procedure that must be followed. The process and guidelines for a constitutionally acceptable DUI checkpoint are known as the Tarbert – Blouse guidelines. This name comes from the two cases in which the guidelines were first announced. The goal of the guidelines was to safeguard against completely arbitrary roadblocks. Further, it makes sure that constitutional rights are not infringed upon at any time during the course of the DUI checkpoint.

The five guidelines that were adopted by the Court in the Blouse case that will allow a checkpoint to be constitutionally appropriate are as follows:

(1) the vehicle stop must be brief and must not include a physical search;

(2) sufficient warning of the existence of the checkpoint is a MUST;

(3) the decision to conduct a checkpoint, as well as the decisions as to time and place for the checkpoint, must be subject to prior administrative approval;

(4) the choice of time and place for the checkpoint must be based on local experience as to where and when intoxicated drivers are likely to be traveling; and

(5) the decision as to which vehicles to stop at the checkpoint must be established by administratively pre-fixed, objective standards, and must not be left to the unfettered discretion of the officers at the scene.
                                                        (See, Commonwealth v. Worthy,  957 A.2d 720 (PA. 2008))

Law enforcement must keep the records of compliance with all of these guidelines. It is not uncommon that while running a DUI checkpoint, some of the guidelines may be missed or not followed. For example, if it is a particularly busy night and the DUI checkpoint has created a large amount of traffic, police cannot arbitrarily begin to allow cars to pass the checkpoint without being stopped – there must be an established “choke point” where, if traffic reaches, the police will then allow cars to pass the checkpoint until it has cleared. Any of these missteps will turn a vehicle stop into an unconstitutional vehicle stop.

If you have been arrested for DUI as a result of a sobriety checkpoint vehicle stop, contact Mike DiCindio directly in order to discuss your case.

 


The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes that may be relevant.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments.  These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances.  Please contact DiCindio Law for a consultation and to discuss what law is relevant to your case.

Mike DiCindio is a criminal defense lawyer who represents individuals accused of crimes throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale as well as in Montgomery County, Lancaster County, Delaware County, Philadelphia County, Bucks County and Berks County.

 

 

“Per se DUI in Pennsylvania”

Chester County DUI Lawyer

Contact West Chester DUI lawyer and Criminal Defense Lawyer Mike DiCindio

Under the current Pennsylvania DUI Laws, the prosecution does not always need to prove that a driver was “impaired” or “intoxicated” while operating a motor vehicle in order to prove they were guilty of DUI. The Pennsylvania DUI statute as it currently stands provides for what are called, “per se” levels – levels of drugs or alcohol, that if found in the blood within two hours of operating a motor vehicle, one is guilty of the offense of DUI.

In Pennsylvania the legal limit for alcohol is .08%. Therefore, if someone is found to have a blood alcohol content of .08% or above, within two hours of operating a motor vehicle, he/she is guilty of “per se” DUI whether or not impaired or manifesting the signs of intoxication.

While this may be true by the letter of the law, in a practical application there are very few situations where someone should be charged with DUI without manifesting signs of intoxication or consumption. This is because before an officer is permitted to transport someone for chemical testing, there must be some facts or indications that provide a legal justification to take him/her for such a test – the blood test must be supported by a sufficient level of legal suspicion. (This is in conjunction with the implied consent law discussed in a previous post)

When someone is charged with a DUI, it is crucial to have an experienced lawyer thoroughly analyze the facts and circumstances surrounding your DUI arrest before taking any action or waiving your rights to contest the charges. There is often an argument to be made that the police officer was not legally justified in taking a breath or blood test in the first place.

Contact Mike DiCindio directly to schedule your free consultation today. 

***This blog is made available by the law firm publisher for educational purposes and to provide general information, not to provide specific legal advice.  By reading, youunderstand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The blog should not be used, nor is it meant to be, as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney. This blog also does not discuss all aspects of the topics involved or the bill that has been placed into effect***

Small Amount of Marijuana in Philadelphia

Possessing Small Amount of Marijuana now only a fine in Philadelphia

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Contact Criminal Defense Lawyer Mike DiCindio to discuss your case today

New legislation in Philadelphia has gone into effect today minimizing the penalties of being caught with a small amount of marijuana.   The goal behind the legislation is aimed at easing the punishment of offenders of this kind while also lowering the burden police officers and prosecutors have experienced in aggressively enforcing the crimes code when it comes to small amount of marijuana charges.

An offender who is found in possession of a small amount of marijuana will now face a minimal fine and one who is found using marijuana will be subject to a slightly higher, yet still minimal fine.   Once the identification of the individual is ascertained, by showing ID, the interaction between police and an accused is supposed to stop. Still, if no valid ID is found on the person, they can be held until their identity is determined and then must be released.  This new bill does not legalize marijuana, but instead decriminalizes certain levels of possession and use and minimalizes what law enforcement officers may do when faced with those circumstances.

This legislation is bound to raise questions in enforcement, prosecution and defense of cases that either involve a small amount of marijuana and/or cases that begin with marijuana as the inception of the contact between an individual and a police officer.

For one, many cases start with police officers locating a small amount of marijuana and using that as reasonable suspicion or probable cause to further investigate and detain an individual. This new bill may raise many challenges to the search and seizure of individuals in the coming months, causing the Courts in the county to interpret whether officers may still use this/these circumstances as reasonable suspicion or probable cause to further detain and search.

 It is too early to determine the true impact this change will have on the implementation of the laws in Philadelphia County. Still, it is something that criminal defense lawyers and law enforcement must be aware of when prosecuting or defending a case that involves a small amount of marijuana.

Contact Mike DiCindio today to discuss your case today.

***This blog is made available by the law firm publisher for educational purposes and to provide general information, not to provide specific legal advice.  By reading, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The blog should not be used, nor is it meant to be, as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney. This blog also does not discuss all aspects of the topics involved or the bill that has been placed into effect***

When can a Police Officer stop a car for suspicion of DUI / Drunk Driving?

Chester County DUI Lawyer

Contact West Chester DUI lawyer and Criminal Defense Lawyer Mike DiCindio

What does a Police Officer need to observe before he is permitted to legally stop a vehicle under suspicion of DUI / drunk driving?

 

Under the vehicle code, a police officer in Chester County, or anywhere in Pennsylvania, may conduct an investigatory detention if he has reasonable suspicion to believe that a motorist violated a provision of the motor vehicle code.  (For example, he suspects the driver is committing a DUI or drunk driving offense)  In order to establish grounds for reasonable suspicion an officer must, “articulate specific observations which, in conjunction with reasonable inference derived from those observations, led him reasonably to conclude, in light of his experience, that criminal activity was afoot and that the person he stopped was involved in that activity.” Commonwealth v. Basinger, 982 A.2d 121, 125 (Pa. Super. 2009); Commonwealth v. Sands, 887 A. 2d 261, 272 (Pa. Super. 2005). Further, a traffic stop may be conducted based on reasonable suspicion particularly in cases where the suspicion is whether the driver is operating under the influence – or DUI / drunk driving. See, Commonwealth v. Sands, 887 A. 2d 261, 272 (Pa. Super. 2005).

When reasonable suspicion exists, a vehicle stop stop shall only be valid if the stop furthers the purpose behind the stop. Commonwealth v. Chase, 960 A.2d 108 (Pa. 2008).  In other words, the police officer must be able to gain more evidence from conducting the stop.  (Was the driving tired and that is why he was swerving or was he really DUI?  Does he smell like alcohol?  Did he just swerve by accident?)  Stopping the vehicle must provide an officer with more evidence – to further investigate, and confirm or dispel the suspicions.  In cases where the stop would not provide any more evidence that may confirm or dispel an officer’s suspicions, he/she must possess the higher standard of probable cause before pulling a vehicle over.

A criminal defense attorney must understand the law and be willing to fight for his client in every DUI case. courthouse2

In Chester County, a skilled criminal defense lawyer may be able to file a motion to suppress the stop of a vehicle in a DUI case when the evidence shows the officer did not have reasonable suspicion.  Often times, an officer may not be able to provide or testify to enough details about an individuals driving to rise to the level of reasonable suspicion.  In those cases, a criminal attorney will file the motion to suppress, take testimony of the officer, and argue to the Court that the officer conducted an illegal stop.  If the motion the defense attorney files is granted, the evidence flowing from the illegal stop is suppressed – the DUI will not be able to stand.

While, “the determination of whether an officer had reasonable suspicion that criminality was afoot so as to justify an investigatory detention is an objective one, which must be considered in light of the totality of the circumstances.” Commonwealth v. Holmes, 14 A.3d 89 (Pa. 2011); citing, Commonwealth v. Chase, 960 A.2d 108, 120 (Pa. 2008) (“[r]easonable suspicion sufficient to stop a motorist must be viewed from the standpoint of an objectively reasonable police officer” (citing, Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690 (1996))); Commonwealth v. Rogers, 849 A.2d 1185, 1189 (Pa. 2004).  It is still something that a criminal defense lawyer MUST be analyze in every DUI / drunk driving case, or in any case involving a motor vehicle stop, before proceeding.

If you have a pending DUI / drunk driving case – contact Mike DiCindio today for your free consultation.

 

 

***This blog is made available by the law firm publisher for educational purposes and to provide general information, not to provide specific legal advice.  By reading, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The blog should not be used, nor is it meant to be, as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney.***