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Legal Updates

This page contains the current year’s legal cases and statutes that are relevant to municipal police officers throughout the Commonwealth, as these cases have a direct impact on how police officers perform their day-to-day duties.

4/10/19: Act 79 of 2018 - PFA orders: Law enforcement may be directed by the court to accompany plaintiff to retrieve belongings and serve PFA. Defendant may be directed to relinquish firearms within 24 hours. Defendant may relinquish firearms to law enforcement. The Act imposes custodial obligations on the police department.

1/10/19: Act 78 of 2018 - New addition to Crimes Code. Section 3505. Unlawful use of unmanned aircraft (Drones).

12/23/18: Act 153 of 2018 - Vehicle Code Amendments, changes to DUI law and accidents involving death or personal injury while not properly licensed – Vehicle Code section 3742.1.

11/18/18: Act 80 of 2018 - New offense in Crimes Code, hazing. Section 2802. Hazing and Section 2803. Aggravated Hazing.

10/17/18: Commonwealth v. Valdivia. This case was taught in MPOETC’s 2017 Legal Update Course. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, reversed the Superior Court’s ruling. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court stated: “Two troopers obtained Valdivia’s voluntary consent to search his vehicle. However, the consent to search given by Valdivia applied only to an immediate search of the vehicle by the troopers. That consent did not extend to a 40 minute detention pending the arrival of a drug dog, and did not extend to a search of the vehicle by the drug dog. Police officers should obtain separate and independent consents to search when there are to be separate searches by the police officers and by a drug dog. Any additional period of detention, pending the arrival of the drug dog, should be disclosed to the suspect.” 

8/15/18: Updated DL-26 Forms: The changes consist of a statement being added to both forms to indicate the police officer is to inform the individual that he/she must successfully complete two consecutive breath samples in order to complete a chemical test of breath. The statement was added to the second numbered bullet on the first form under the "SECTION 1547" heading, and the first numbered bullet on the second form under the "SECTION 1613" heading.

7/1/18: PUBLIC ACCESS - the Public Access Policy of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania became effective for filings in the Magisterial District courts.  Officers must now ensure that all confidential information to include: social security numbers, financial account numbers excepting the last four digits, driver’s license numbers, state identification numbers, minor’s names and dates of birth excepting a juvenile charged as an adult and a domestic abuse victim’s home and work address and work schedule must be redacted from complaints, traffic and non-traffic citations and both sealed and unsealed search warrants.  The redacted confidential information shall now appear on specified confidential information forms.  Both the complaint and/or the search warrant with any required confidential information forms must be filed with the court.  Any member of the public who wishes to view a document with the court will be permitted to view the redacted document but not the confidential information form.  The confidential information form will be viewable only by the court and the parties to the case.  Citations now include both a MDJ copy and a public access copy, both of which are filed with the MDJ’s office.  Only the citation public access copy is viewable to the public.  Certain confidential documents are also protected these include but are not limited to medical and psychological records and financial source documents.  The criminal complaints, search warrants and citations also include a compliance certification.  Failure to comply with the policy may result in an officer being personally fined. 

April 2018: Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine has approved the state’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Board recommendation to permit sale of dry leaf or plant form for patients with a qualifying medical condition. Patients are only permitted to vaporize the marijuana purchased in flower form because the state legislature specifically prohibited smoking in the Medical Marijuana Act of 2016. The content that was taught in the 2017 Legal Update course that leaf forms of medical marijuana may not be prescribed is no longer accurate.

4/26/18: Commonwealth v. Romero, Supreme Court Case. The Court stated that law enforcement needs probable cause to enter a third party's home to arrest a non-resident. The Court did not say law enforcement needs a search warrant to look for the non-resident. The Court did state that it would be prudent to obtain a search warrant. Law enforcement agencies should check with the District Attorney in their county for additional guidance.

4/25/18: Act 14 of 2018 (SB 449) (known as “Tierne’s Law"), was signed January 23, 2018. This Act amends Section 2711 of the Crimes Code to include Section 2718 (Relating to Strangulation) as one of the crimes police officers have the right to arrest without a warrant whenever they have probable cause.

 3/9/18: Commonwealth v. Kitchen, Pa Superior Court, 03/09/2018. In order for the charge of False Identification to Law Enforcement to be upheld in Court, the defendant must first be advised that he/she is subject to an official investigation.

2/18/18: In response to Commonwealth V. Muniz, House Bill 631 (Act 10 of 2018) was passed and signed into law.  This new law ensures a large portion of the offenders who would have been removed from Pennsylvania’s Sex Offender Registry, because of the ruling in this case, are still required to register.

1/28/18: Act 57 of 2018 (SB 785) Allows “Golf carts” to be exempt from registration and may cross a highway (meeting certain requirements).

1/20/18: Section 3 of the Act of July 20, 2017, P.L. 333, No. 30 (Act 2017-30), amended Section 1547 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa.C.S. § 1547 (relating to chemical testing to determine amount of alcohol or controlled substance) (the Pennsylvania Implied Consent Law).  Effective Saturday, January 20, 2018, a person whose operating privilege has been suspended for a violation of the Implied Consent Law will be required to pay a restoration fee of up to $2,000 in order for the person's operating privilege to be restored.  Act 2017-30 also amended the warnings requirements contained in 75 Pa.C.S. § 1547(b)(2)(i) and 75 Pa.C.S. § 1547(b.1)(2) to add a requirement that police inform the person that "the person's operating privilege will be suspended upon refusal to submit to chemical testing and the person will be subject to a restoration fee of up to $2,000." 
Consequently, the PennDOT Office of Chief Counsel has prepared amendments to its three Implied Consent warnings forms that are available for use by Pennsylvania State Troopers and municipal police officers to comply with the warnings requirements of the Implied Consent Law.  The new warnings about the increased restoration fees are contained in the revised DL-26A (1-18) form for breath tests, DL-26B (1-18) form for blood tests, and the two DL-27 (1-18) forms for either a violation of 75 Pa.C.S. § 1543(b)(1.1) for a person whose operating privilege is suspended or revoked for an alcohol-related offense or a violation of 75 Pa.C.S. § 3808(a)(2) for a person who illegally operates a motor vehicle not equipped with ignition interlock.  The appropriate revised form should be used beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, January 20, 2018, to warn anyone who is arrested for driving under the influence or for a violation of 75 Pa.C.S. § 1543(b)(1.1) or 75 Pa.C.S. § 3808(a)(2). The new revised forms can be obtained through the Pennsylvania Justice Network (JNET).

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