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This page contains significant/relevant cases that were incorporated into annual LEGAL UPDATES training.

12/24/17: Act 37 of 2017 (House Bill 1288) Reference (a) amends Pa.C.S. Title 75 (Vehicles), Section 1338 (Person with disability plate and placard), by adding optometrists to the list of medical providers authorized to certify a person as disabled for the purpose of issuing a handicapped plate or placard.

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.
11/16/17:  Commonwealth v. Karash - Law enforcement must testify at a summary trial for a Stop Sign Violation (Sec 3323B of the Vehicle Code) that no police officer or other authorized individuals gave the driver permission to not stop for the posted stop sign.

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 2017 (11/3/17), 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)

12/25/16: Act 111 of 2016 (10/26/16), HB 1581, PN 3089 New offense – Strangulation, 18 Pa.C.S. § 2718; Physical injury not an element of the offense; Consent is an affirmative defense; Grading can be M2, F2 or F1; F2: Victim is family or household member, care dependent person; F2: Crime committed “in conjunction with sexual violence [or] human trafficking”; F1: Defendant was subject to restraining order, used an instrument of crime or has prior F2 conviction

11/03/16: Act 136 of 2016 (11/3/16), HB 1703, PN 2849; Operation of ATV to be pursuant to age recommendation warning label; Reenactment of language for operators age 8 and 9; Youthful operator has five days to present safety certificate to issuing authority; Technical changes to Vehicle Code Section 7743 regarding mufflers and “sound” control

10/28/16: Act 111 (HB 1581 of 2016) An Act amending Title 18 (Crimes and Offenses) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in assault, providing for the offense of strangulation.

09/19/16: Act 101(HB 950 of 2015) An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in general provisions relating to operation of vehicles, further providing for traffic-control signals and for expiration of automated red light enforcement systems provisions. If a sensor(s) at a traffic control signal fails to detect the presence of a vehicle, the operator of that vehicle shall stop in the same manner as at a stop sign.

06/23/16: Birchfield v. North Dakota (United States Supreme Court), The Fourth Amendment permits warrantless breath tests incident to arrest for DUI, but not warrantless blood tests.
05/17/16: Act 16 of 2016 Medical Marijuana Act - see document prepared by David J. Drumheller, Esq. of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Institute
03/04/16: Commonwealth v. Davis (Superior Court) Live-in girlfriend has the authority to give consent to search apartment.
02/09/16: Commonwealth v. Benito (Superior Court) Defendant did not have the privilege of entering his spouse’s residence after she told him not to enter, changed the locks, and she had exclusive control of the property.
02/08/16: Commonwealth v. Irvin (Superior Court) Searching of trash cans without a warrant is lawful as long as the trash cans were placed out for pickup in an area accessible to the public.
02/02/16: Commonwealth v. Eichler (Superior Court) Police officer going onto the curtilage of defendant’s property did not violate the 4th Amendment, because the police officer had authority to enter onto the property for a police investigation and limited his movement to only areas that visitors would be expected to go on the grounds.

02/02/16: Commonwealth v. Roberts (Superior Court) Police officers engaged Defendant in a mere encounter, he fled on foot. Defendant discarded contraband. The police were legally allowed to obtain this evidence.
Act 55 of 2015
An Act amending Title 75 (Vehicles) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in general provisions relating to operation of vehicles, further providing for obedience to authorized persons directing traffic; and providing for drivers of certified escort vehicles; in other required equipment, further providing for identification of certain vehicles; and, in size, weight and load, further providing for scope and application of chapter and for conditions of permits and security for damages.
10/22/15: United States v. Slocumb (4th Circuit) Police officers did not have reasonable suspicion to detain and evidence was suppressed.