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.
Act 57 of 2018 (SB 785) - Effective on 1/28/18, allows “Golf carts” to be exempt from registration and may cross a highway (meeting certain requirements).
11/27/17: Commonwealth v. Livingstone - With emergency lights flashing, the approach of a stopped vehicle requires reasonable suspicion of either criminal conduct or that a citizen is in need of assistance. It is permissible for a police officer to have law enforcement concerns if that officer also possesses facts which reasonably would suggest that the officer’s assistance is necessary.
11/22/17: Commonwealth v. Loughnane - The automobile exception applies only to vehicles located on the street or in some other public location. Law enforcement will need either a search warrant or exigent circumstances before they may seize a vehicle on a residential driveway.
Act 13 of 2017 (SB 8) – Civil Asset Forfeiture: Comprehensive overhaul of civil asset forfeiture in Pennsylvania.
Act 22 of 2017(SB 560) – Body Worn Cameras: Removes prohibition of wearing body-worn cameras in a residence, provides public access to audio and video law enforcement recordings outside of the Right to Know Law, extends the Wiretap Act, and permits interception of certain prison recordings.
Act 30 of 2017 (SB 553) – Amending the PA Consolidated Statutes for DUIs: Amends a number of section in Title 75; brings Pennsylvania law in line with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Birchfield v. North Dakota, excludes ARD from mandatory ignition interlock, and makes changes to the license suspension procedure.
Act 10 of 2017 (HB 1238) – Animal Abuse Overhaul (Libre’s Law): Comprehensive overhaul of Pennsylvania’s animal cruelty law.
Act 9 of 2017 (HB 168) – Stolen Valor: Creates a new crime of mispresenting military service or honors.
Act 8 of 2017 (HB 267) – Secondary Metal Theft: Creates a new crime for the theft of secondary metal.
Act 29 of 2017 (SB 527) – Office of the Inspector General: Establishes the position of the Office of Inspector General in Statute. The Inspector General will be appointed by the Governor and serve a term concurrent with the Governor’s term of office. This position already exists, but it exits under an Executive Order, not Administrative Code.
8/23/17: Commonwealth v. Anderson, A Lethal Weapons Act certificate is not a substitute for the license required by law to carry a firearm.
Summer 2017: Pennsylvania Driver License gets new design, but new design is not REAL ID Act compliant.
Summer 2017: The registration plate design has been updated.
02/01/17: Act 108 of 2016 (10/4/16), SB 1155, PN 1998 Special Armed Forces license plate
01/03/17: Act 158 of 2016 (11/4/16), SB 1062, PN 1679; New subsection of burglary 18 Pa.C.S. § 3502(a)(1)(i); Burglary of occupied residence with commission, attempt or threat to commit a bodily injury crime; Bodily injury crime defined: "Bodily injury crime." As follows: (1) An act, attempt or threat to commit an act which would constitute a misdemeanor or felony under the following: Chapter 25 (relating to criminal homicide). Chapter 27 (relating to assault). Chapter 29 (relating to kidnapping). Chapter 31 (relating to sexual offenses). Section 3301 (relating to arson and related offenses). Chapter 37 (relating to robbery). Chapter 49 Subch. B (relating to victim and witness intimidation).; (2) The term includes violations of any protective order issued as a result of an act related to domestic violence; No enhanced grading of offense – await promulgation of sentencing guidelines enhancement
01/02/17: Act 131 of 2018 (11/3/18), HB 1118, PN 4066; Independent Counsel Law; Relevant pages: Pages 43-44: DA may refer case to contiguous county colleague, Page 48: Covered persons with respect to Attorney General; Page 83: Duties of State Police
01/02/17: Act 134 of 2016 (11/3/16), HB 1496, PN 3918: Enhanced penalty for violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105 (from F2 to F1); Previous conviction “at the time of a commission of a violation” of subsection (a); Current “physical possession or control of a firearm whether visible, concealed about the person, or within the person’s reach.”; Current language prohibits: “shall not possess, use, control, sell, transfer or manufacture or obtain a license to possess, use, control, sell, transfer or manufacture a firearm”
01/01/17: House Bill 1154
Police officers will not be able to physically view a sticker to determine validation status.
11/03/16: Act 142 of 2016
(11/3/16), HB 2058, PN 3428; Paramedic may draw blood for police in cases involving suspected DUS/DUI, Homicide by vehicle while DUI, Aggravated Assault while DUI and DUI; Paramedic not a necessary chain of custody witness if witnessing police officer testifies; Paramedic’s services recoverable as court costs (effective 2/1/17)
(Miscellaneous effective dates): Act 165 of 2016
(11/4/16), HB 2025, PN 4069 Addition to definition of abandoned vehicle; Temporary registration cards are valid for 60 days; Amendment to Section 1332(b) – Obscuring registration plate; May not inhibit any automated enforcement system or electronic toll collection system; New subsection (b)(4) prohibits obscuring which “inhibits the visibility of the issuing jurisdiction” (violation of subsection is a $100 fine); Registration plate and card may be seized for suspension arising from unpaid tolls in this Commonwealth or in a reciprocal jurisdiction as provided for in new Section 1380; Hazardous materials endorsement not required for certain commercial drivers; Conviction for violating Section 3316 (pertaining to texting) now joins Sections 3325 and 3327 as authorizing an additional 5 year sentence enhancement to the otherwise applicable sentence for homicide by vehicle or aggravated assault by vehicle (eff. 1/3/17)
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