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.
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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