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July 2, 2015

PA Supreme Court Rules Custodial Interrogation by Parole Officer Requires Miranda Warnings

In Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Cooley, parole officers received a voicemail from the father of Cooley’s fiancé who stated that Cooley possessed and had been discharging firearms, and may have been selling drugs in his home. Given the nature of the relationship between Cooley and his future father in law, the parole officers handcuffed Cooley upon arrival and searched him for weapons. The officers told Cooley that they were going to search his home for firearms and drugs. Cooley admitted that a firearm was located in a drawer under his living-room couch. Four parole agents searched the...

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June 25, 2015

Is a Criminal Record Ever Really Expunged?

Expungement is a court order to seal a criminal record. However, just because a criminal record has received an expungement order, does not necessarily mean that it is gone forever. Recently, a Pennsylvania woman who successfully had her record expunged, failed to receive housing because a private company doing criminal background checks was able to find the previous criminal convictions.   Timing is everything regarding expungement and whether or not a search by a private company will reveal...

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June 12, 2015

PA Facebook Case Reversed by United States Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a 7-2 decision, to reverse the conviction in the case of Elonis v. United States. The Supreme Court held requiring negligence with respect to the communication of a threat is not sufficient to constitute the crime of 18 U.S.C. §875(c) communication of threats. At issue was the prosecution of a Pennsylvania man who was arrested and prosecuted under a law that makes it a crime to threaten another person, after using Facebook to post rap lyrics about killing his estranged wife. According to the court’s ruling, it was not necessary to reach First Amendment...

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June 2, 2015

PA Moms Need Fingerprints and Background Checks – Who will bake the cupcakes?

A Pennsylvania law set to go into effect July 1, 2015 will require that any adult who interacts with children in a school setting be fingerprinted, and submit to a criminal background check. This law amends and expands on the existing Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) and includes provisions creating clearance requirements for unpaid volunteers in schools, as well as requiring updated clearances every 36 months for school employees and volunteers. This new law applies to a...

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June 1, 2015

Supreme Court of the United States Finds Delays In Traffic Stops Are A Violation Of The Fourth Amendment

In a 6-3 decision issued today in the case of Rodriguez v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Nebraska police violated the Fourth Amendment by extending an otherwise lawful traffic stop in order to let a drug-sniffing dog investigate the outside of the vehicle. At issue was a 2012 traffic stop conducted by a Nebraska police officer who happened to have his K-9 dog in the cruiser with him. When the stopped driver refused to consent to letting the drug dog walk around the outside of his vehicle, the officer called for back-up, thereby prolonging the stop by an additional eight...

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