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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.

12/22/20: Commonwealth v. Alexander (Pa Supreme Court). Commonwealth v. Alexander overturns Commonwealth v. Gary and held that the automobile exception violates the PA Constitution.  Effective immediately, non-consensual automobile or motor vehicle searches will require a search warrant, unless probable cause AND exigent circumstances exist. 

2/3/20: Commonwealth v. Powell: Superior Court – the court concluded that when the officer ordered the defendant to roll down the window to his vehicle, the interaction became an investigative detention that was not supported by reasonable suspicion.

1/27/20: Act 103 of 2019: Amendment to Section 3503 (b) Defiant trespasser: the placement of purple paint indicates no trespassing.  See law for official placement requirements. Law does not apply in a county of the first or second class.  

1/26/20: Act 100 of 2019: New Crimes Code Section: Section 3133. Sexual Extortion: law defines sexual extortion as knowingly or intentionally coercing or causing someone to: engage in or simulate sexual conduct; become nude; or make, produce, or disseminate images that depict the person naked or performing or simulating a sexual act.

1/22/20: Commonwealth v. Cost – The PA Supreme Court: limited police activity during a police-citizen interaction (“mere encounter”).  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that when officers retain an individual’s ID to check for warrants and ask if there was anything the officer needs to know, escalates the mere encounter into an investigation detention.  Contact your local District Attorney if you have questions or for advice. 

1/17/20: Commonwealth v. Bowens – The Superior Court held that evidence obtained from a cell phone after the expiration of the search warrant (48 hours) had to be suppressed. In 2017, PA Rule of Criminal Procedure – Rule 205(B) was amended allowing searches of electronic storage devices after the 48 hours. The Commonwealth v. Bowens case at this time only applies to cases prior to 2017. If an officer has a case that falls into the Bowens category, contact your local District Attorney.

1/1/20: Effective January 1, 2020, pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. Section 1725.1(f) the hearing cost for a summary traffic citation will increase from $8.00 to $9.00. As of January 1, 2020, only citations that reflect the new hearing cost will be accepted. Police departments in Pennsylvania need to order new citation forms reflecting this $1.00 increase.

1/1/20: Title 201, Rules of Judicial Administration – Rule 1910. Broadcasting, Recording and Photography in the Courtroom. Law enforcement officers may wear body cameras into the courtroom, but they may not be activated unless during an emergency situation in the courtroom. See Rule for more detailed information.

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