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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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April 3, 2015

Legalization of Medical Cannabis in Pennsylvania

As a general principle, medical marijuana is the same substance as standard marijuana. Though there is legislation underway seeking to legalize the medical use of cannabis, under Pennsylvania law, it remains illegal to use, grow, sell, or possess it. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf expressed a willingness to sign a humanitarian Medical Cannabis Bill if and when it reaches his desk. This coupled with Pennsylvania Senate Bill 3, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, set to be reviewed in a...

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December 10, 2014

Superior Court Clarifies “Course of Conduct” for Corruption of Minors

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has recently clarified that “course of conduct” requires multiple acts over time to trigger the felony grading for the offense of corruption of minors. In this matter, the Defendant was convicted of corruption of minors and indecent assault. The corruption of minors count was graded as a felony as the Commonwealth contended there was a “course of conduct.” The Defendant appealed and the Superior Court agreed. The Defendant, who...

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