pennsylvania | Ketchel Law - Criminal Lawyers Pittsburgh

Can You Go To Jail at a Preliminary Hearing?

What Happens at a Preliminary Hearing in Pennsylvania?

If you or a loved one were charged with a crime recently and are scheduled for a preliminary hearing, you may be wondering what could happen at the hearing.

preliminary hearing jailtime

A preliminary hearing is not a trial, but rather a first step in a case used to determine if there is enough evidence against the defendant to move forward with the case. It also gives a first chance for the accused to defend themselves and exercise their rights. If there is not sufficient evidence, the charges could be dismissed at the hearing. 

If there is sufficient evidence to move the case forward, it will move from the Magistrate to the Court of Common Pleas for trial. This gives the defendant time to further prepare their defense. 

Could I go to Jail at a Preliminary Hearing?

While it is unlikely a person would go to jail at a preliminary hearing, they could be taken into custody at the preliminary hearing if bail is increased or revoked. If bail is increased, the defendant would remain in jail until the amount is paid. 

A defendant will not be found guilty or sentenced at the preliminary hearing; the hearing is only to determine whether to move the case forward or not. The “or not” is very important, because it is possible that the charges could be dismissed altogether.

The Preliminary Hearing is Very Important

If you were charged with a crime, the preliminary hearing gives you a first chance to make a defense and tell your side of the story. The preliminary hearing is crucial to your defense. Make sure you have an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you at the preliminary hearing who already understands your situation and explains beforehand what you can expect. An aggressive defense attorney with a thorough understanding of the law and the prosecutors is going to fight for your case to be dismissed and argue evidence to proceed is lacking.

Witnesses may be presented and testimony heard, but briefly, and only for the purpose of determining if there is enough evidence to move forward with your case, not to make a verdict. 

Your attorney will be able to cross-examine any witnesses and/or argue that the evidence is not sufficient. Your attorney can also challenge evidence, requesting that it be thrown out. Your attorney may also request that your case be dismissed, if they feel the prosecution has not gathered enough evidence.

Unlike a full trial, the prosecution does not need evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a preliminary hearing. They need only have “prima facie”, which means they need proof it is more likely than not that you committed the crime in question.

Read more about Preliminary Hearings in Pennsylvania.

Are you or a loved one facing criminal charges?

If you have been charged with a crime in Pittsburgh or Southwest Pennsylvania, Ketchel Law can provide a free legal consultation. Our criminal attorneys are top-rated and located in downtown Pittsburgh. We have been successfully representing clients for nearly a decade and are here to help you fight your charges and win your case.

Call Ketchel Law at 412-456-1221. We take your case seriously and are committed to providing quality legal advice.

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Recent PA Court Ruling on Medical Marijuana: A Schedule I Drug in DUI Cases

Court Rules You Can be Charged and Convicted of DUI of Drugs for using Medical Marijuana

medicinal marijuana / cannibisMany medical marijuana users in Pennsylvania are in shock over the recent ruling in early May 2022 that says the legal medicine they have been prescribed could mean they are at risk for being charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Pennsylvania.

If a person is charged with DUI drugs in PA and have no other controlled substance or alcohol in their blood, they could still face the maximum penalties as a person with the highest rate of blood alcohol content (BAC) level. Penalties include a one year license suspension, up to six months in jail and a heavy fine (first offense).

Many people say they are not impaired at the time of their arrest. However, trace amounts of marijuana and metabolites can stay in the blood stream for days after use, long after a person is considered “impaired” or “high”.

Even though Schedule I drugs are defined by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”, medical marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, as is heroin, meth and ecstasy.

The ruling made by the Pennsylvania Superior Court was in rejection to an appeal of a DUI case, in which the defendant was charged with DUI after initially being pulled over for illegally speeding.

In the ruling (Commonwealth v. Dabney)  May 5 ruling, Judge D. Kunselman wrote a 17 page opinion which says “medical marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance,” and that “no conflict exists between the Medical Marijuana Act and the Vehicle Code.”

She also added that the Medical Marijuana Act “did not remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I controlled substances.”

The defendant, Dabney, argued that marijuana ingested, pursuant to the Medical Marijuana Act, 35 P.S. §§ 10231.101, is not a controlled substance within the meaning of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, and therefore he could not be prosecuted for DUI under 75 Pa.C.S.A. § 3802(d)(1) based on medical marijuana in his blood.

Read the full ruling here. Read about the case in the York Daily Record.

This ruling holds precedence and will have an effect on other similar DUI cases involving medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. There are over 400,000 legal registered users of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania.

Is there anything that can be done if you are charged with DUI of Medical Marijuana in PA?

First, anyone charged with a crime has the right to fight against the charges – DUI cases are fought and won every day in court. Having an experienced attorney who has successfully taken on and won hundreds of DUI cases can help.

Second, you could be eligible to apply for a pardon. In late 2020, lawmakers in the Pennsylvania House voted to amend the DUI law to decriminalize trace amounts of marijuana for legal medical marijuana users. However, the Pennsylvania State Senate has yet to take measures to vote on it and move it to the Governor’s desk. Until then, there is a possibility of being charged with DUI.

However, the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons recently established an expedited review program for non-violent marijuana offenders in Pennsylvania. Under this program, people who are legally allowed to use medicinal marijuana and who have been charged with DUI, are eligible to apply for a pardon.

An Arrest is Not a Conviction

If you were charged with DUI of marijuana in Pennsylvania or are facing marijuana charges or other drug charges, contact our experienced Pittsburgh DUI and Drug Lawyers for a free consultation. Our attorneys can either help you apply for a pardon or fight the charges, depending on your circumstances.

If the cops catch you, call Ketchel

PITTSBURGH DRUG LAWYERS

KETCHEL LAW 

Call 412-456-1221 for a free consultation

If you have been charged with a crime in Pennsylvania, contact Ketchel Law today.

Our number one goal is to have your charges dismissed and your record clean.

Learn more about Marijuana Laws in Pennsylvania

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FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION

We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

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What are the Penalties for Drug Charges in Pennsylvania?

drug penalties pennsylvaniaLet’s face the facts: a lot of people use drugs. Nearly 12% of people over 12 years of age used drugs or misused prescription drugs in the United States in the last year, according to the CDC.

More than a million people are arrested for drug possession in the United States every year, and Pennsylvania is no exception to a high amount of drug use and offenses.

While the majority of people being charged with drug crimes are buying drugs and have addiction problems, another portion is involved with the selling, transporting, manufacturing and distribution of illegal drugs. These are two very different crimes and the penalties usually fall into two categories, depending on the amount of drugs involved in the crime: Simple drug possession and PWID or Possession with Intent to Deliver or Distribute. The latter comes with much higher penalties, but both can send you to prison.

Illegal drugs can mean marijuana, cocaine, illegal steroids, ecstasy, synthetic drugs, methamphetamine, opioids like oxycodone and heroin, as well as illegal prescription drugs like Ambien, Xanax, and valium.

In the case with marijuana, because it is legal in Pennsylvania for medical purposes and is being decriminalized in some cities in Pennsylvania, often the fines and penalties can be less severe than a regular simple drug possession charge.

For Simple Possession, a defendant faces the following penalties:

Other indirect penalties could include driver’s license suspension, being prohibited from owning a firearm, loss of employment, difficulty getting car insurance and/or high insurance premiums, mandatory treatment programs, loss of parental rights and inability to obtain student loans.

For PWID, a first offense for Schedule I or II drugs, the penalty is:

  • Two years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000 (2-10 grams)
  • Three years in prison and a maximum fine of $15,000 (11-99 grams)
  • Five years in prison and a maximum fine of $25,000 (100 or more grams)

Read more information about drug penalties in Pennsylvania.

If you have been charged with a drug crime in Pennsylvania, call Attorney Ketchel for a free legal consultation. It is important to remember that being charged with a crime does not necessarily mean you will be convicted or face full charges. An attorney can help you understand your options and fight for the best possible outcome for you and your family.

Our number one goal is to have your charges dismissed and your record clean.

_____________________

FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION

We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

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Pennsylvania Court Rules Smell of Marijuana Alone Does Not Justify a Warrantless Search

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has ruled against making a warrantless search based solely on the smell of cannabis.

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled that a state police search of a vehicle in 2018 occurred only due to the smell of marijuana. In Commonwealth v. Barr II, the defendant was charged with illegally owning a firearm after police searched his vehicle because they initially smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle.

pittsburgh weed lawyers

Medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania and many people are authorized to use cannabis. With this ruling, people using cannabis legally can no longer be subject to a search from the smell of weed alone. However, if other suspected behavior is evident to police officers, they may still legally conduct a search when they also smell marijuana.

As the court says, ” “We hold that the odor of marijuana alone does not amount to probable cause to conduct a warrantless search of a vehicle but, rather, may be considered as a factor in examining the totality of the circumstances.”

The ruling also clarifies the ruling further:

“We conclude that the MMA [Medical Marijuana Act] makes abundantly clear that marijuana no longer is per se illegal in this Commonwealth,” the majority opined. “Accordingly, the enactment of the MMA eliminated this main pillar supporting the ‘plain smell’ doctrine as applied to the possession or use of marijuana. Indeed, so long as a patient complies with the dictates of the MMA, that person can legally possess and consume various forms of medical marijuana, including the plant itself. Accordingly, the smell of marijuana alone cannot create probable cause to justify a search under the state and federal constitutions.”

Recently cities in Pennsylvania have begun decriminalizing marijuana, issuing only small fines and seizing the drugs for illegally smoking marijuana. However, in most parts of Pennsylvania, you could still receive a $500 fine and 30 days in jail for even a small amount of illegal marijuana use.

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If you have a pending marijuana case or were recently charged with marijuana possession or marijuana PWID, contact the Pittsburgh Marijuana Attorneys at Ketchel Law to get more information on your rights and Pennsylvania’s marijuana laws.

Attorney Ketchel can provide a free phone consultation.

PENNSYLVANIA MARIJUANA LAWYERS

If the cops catch you, call Ketchel.

Get a free legal consultation: 412-456-1221

If you have been charged with a crime in Pennsylvania, contact Ketchel Law today.

Our number one goal is to have your charges dismissed and your record clean.

_____________________

FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION

We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

Learn more about Ketchel Law:

Will You Lose Your License by Refusing a Breathalyzer or Blood Test After a DUI Arrest in Pennsylvania?

What Happens to Your License if you Refuse to Take a Breath or Blood Test in PA?

refuse breath or blood test dui pennsylvania

It may go without saying that many people who are charged with DUI are not thinking clearly when they are pulled over by the police. This sometimes results in a refusal to take a breathalyzer or a blood test after the DUI arrest, which can further complicate life down the road. The biggest complication for many is the loss of a driver’s license.

Refusing a breathalyzer or chemical blood test after a DUI arrest is not the same as refusing a portable breath test that police may carry in their car and ask you to take BEFORE your arrest. These tests are often to determine if you have alcohol on your breath and are not accurate or admissible in court.

If you refuse a breathalyzer or a blood test after a DUI arrest in PA, your license can be suspended both for the refusal and for the DUI. This means you could face two separate license suspensions: one suspension for the refusal, and the other for the DUI conviction.

Even if you end up getting accepted into the ARD program for your DUI charge, or receive a Not Guilty verdict, you can still face a license suspension for refusing chemical testing after the arrest.

If this has happened to you or your loved one, the first thing you can do is contact a DUI Attorney in Pennsylvania. Ketchel Law offers free consultations for anyone charged with DUI in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania.

Call 412-456-4221 for a free legal consultation about your DUI case.

What is the difference between refusing a breathalyzer and refusing a blood test?

If you refuse a breathalyzer after a DUI arrest, you will be facing a license suspension for the refusal and your DUI will be graded as the highest tier DUI. (Read more about BAC level Tiers)

The reason for the highest tier grading is because a warrant is not necessary for police to test your breath. On the other hand, the police must have a warrant to get a blood sample. If you refuse to give a blood sample and the police do not get a warrant, then your DUI will likely be graded as a lowest tier DUI, general impairment. However, you will still face a license suspension for the refusal.

dui refusing a chemical test in pa - license suspension

In either case, a refusal will mean an automatic license suspension from PennDOT. If you refuse, or the police say you refused, you will receive a letter from PennDot stating that your license will be suspended. This is true even if you are never charged criminally for DUI or if you win your DUI case. You will have thirty days from the date of the suspension letter to file an appeal of your suspension.

When you are issued a license by PennDOT, you have already signed an agreement to consent to taking a breath or blood test. By violating that agreement, you face the penalties of a license suspension, as the bare minimum.

Can a DUI Lawyer Help If I Refused a Chemical Test or Breathalyzer?

Yes.

The stakes for a DUI conviction are high if you refused a breathalyzer or chemical test, but an attorney can help you better understand your options. No situation is ever hopeless – there is always a chance you could get the penalties reduced and filing a license suspension appeal may help delay a license suspension.

An Arrest is NOT a Conviction.

It is very helpful to have an experienced PA DUI Lawyer explain the charges, your rights and help walk you through the process. A DUI Lawyer can also help explain when you will be eligible for Ignition Interlock suspension process, so you can begin driving again.

If you were charged with DUI in Western Pennsylvania, call Ketchel Law at 412-456-1221 for a free consultation.


PENNSYLVANIA DUI LAWYERS

KETCHEL LAW 

Call 412-456-1221 for a free consultation

If you have been charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, contact Ketchel Law today.

Our number one goal is to have your charges dismissed and your record clean.


Learn more about DUI Laws in Pennsylvania

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FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION

We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime in Western Pennsylvania. Call us at 412-456-1221 today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

Learn more about Ketchel Law:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overturning Marijuana Convictions in Pennsylvania

Can your marijuana charges be expunged? Can you be pardoned for a marijuana conviction in Pennsylvania?

marijuana pardons in pennsylvaniaThe Pennsylvania Board of Pardons (BOP) recently established an expedited review program for non-violent marijuana-specific convictions, including possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, DUI of medical-marijuana, and Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana (PWID).

While applicants are welcome to apply for a pardon, there are no guarantees every applicant will get the Board’s approval. Some notable exceptions include people who have not yet been convicted and people who have completed the ARD program. There is no time limit for when the marijuana-related conviction occurred.

If you have been charged or convicted of marijuana offenses, contact our Pittsburgh Marijuana Lawyers today – we can help either fight your marijuana/cannabis charges or help you with the process of applying for a pardon. Our attorneys offer free consultations to anyone charged with a drug crime.

PENNSYLVANIA MARIJUANA LAWYERS

Call 412-456-1221 for a free consultation.

Eligibility for the marijuana expedited review program in Pennsylvania includes the following criminal convictions:

  • Possession of a small amount of marijuana (personal use);
  • Possession of a small amount of marijuana with the intent to distribute (PWID);
  • Distribution of a small amount of marijuana (not for sale);
  • Paraphernalia-related offenses – marijuana-specific convictions;
  • Criminal conspiracy (marijuana-specific offense);
  • Marijuana-related DUI convictions incurred by lawful medical marijuana cardholders in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania;
  • Felony convictions for possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance (marijuana PWID), and;
  • Marijuana-specific convictions of which the Board of Pardons deems appropriate.

Ineligibility for the marijuana pardon program includes:

  • Anyone not yet convicted of a marijuana-specific offense;
  • Anyone currently enrolled in, or who has completed the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) Program;  
  • Anyone actively under court-ordered supervision (i.e., probation or parole). This exception can be waived if you can obtain a letter as support from your probation/parole officer/office. 
  • Anyone who possesses a criminal conviction classified as a violent offense;
  • Anyone who possesses a conviction for driving under the influence of marijuana;
  • Anyone convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana who was not a lawful medical marijuana cardholder in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania at the time of the incident;
  • Any prospective applicant who at the time of submission is incarcerated for an offense that is unrelated to the conviction(s) for which they are seeking expedited relief, and;
  • Any individual’s application that the Secretary deems to be unsuitable for expedited review.

See the Pennsylvania Board of Pardon website for additional information or download the application packet here.

PENNSYLVANIA MARIJUANA LAWYERS

KETCHEL LAW 

Call 412-456-1221 for a free consultation

If you were charged with marijuana in Pennsylvania, contact Ketchel Law today.

Our number one goal is to have your charges dismissed and your record clean.

Learn more about Marijuana Laws in Pennsylvania

_____________________

FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION

We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

Learn more about Ketchel Law:

Location Tracking, Cell Phone Data, and Your Rights

Can the Police Access Your Cell Phone Data?

What are your privacy rights when it comes to mobile data and cell phone tracking information?

police mobile data pennsylvania lawsNow that everyone owns a mobile device, it is very easy to for cell phone companies to track real time location, even if calls were not being made. They can also easily determine where and when calls and texts were made and the length of each call or text.

The question is, are they obligated to turn over this information to the police? And the answer is … it depends.

Generally, the police need a search warrant and probable cause in order to obtain tracking information from cell phone companies, like Verizon and ATT. They also need a search warrant to access data on your cell phone.

In the Commonwealth vs. Fulton, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled “that accessing any information from a cell phone without a warrant” violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Federal law has dictated the same. In 2018, Carpenter vs. The United States, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that the government violates the Fourth Amendment by obtaining Cell Site Location Information (CSLI) records containing physical locations of cell phones without a search warrant.

Your Right to Privacy and Cell Phone Tracking Data

Even though the police cannot access information on your cell phone without a search warrant, they still may be able to seize your mobile phone during an arrest.

If you are asked by a law enforcement official to be given access to your phone, ask if they have a warrant. If they say they have a warrant, ask to see it, as you have a right to see the warrant before granting access.

If you voluntarily grant access to your cell phone data, this data could be admissible in court.

While you do have to grant access to your mobile data if there is a search warrant, and the police can use facial recognition or fingerprint to unlock your phone, you do not have to unlock it via a passcode or pattern lock. This is in violation of the 5th amendment rights to not incriminate yourself.

In order to protect your privacy rights, always keep a passcode lock on your phone. However, the only way to avoid your mobile data tracking from being turned over to the police is to turn off your cell phone completely and remove the battery, if possible.

If you have been charged with a crime and are worried about police gaining access to your mobile data, you should ask to speak with a criminal lawyer.

PENNSYLVANIA CRIMINAL LAWYERS

KETCHEL LAW 

Call 412-456-1221 for a free consultation

If you have been charged with a crime in Pennsylvania, contact Ketchel Law today.

Our number one goal is to have your charges dismissed and your record clean.

_____________________

FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION

We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

Learn more about Ketchel Law:

 

 

 

 

PA Law Gives Immunity to People Who Help a Friend During a Drug Overdose

If your friend or loved one has overdosed on drugs and you assist them in getting help, you can not be criminally charged, even if you were also using drugs (under most circumstances). This immunity also applies to anyone on probation or parole.

Pennsylvania Drug Immunity Law—Good Samaritan and OverdoseThis law is often referred to as the Pennsylvania Good Samaritan Overdose Immunity Law.

Under Pennsylvania law, Act 139 SB 1164, passed in 2014, allows anyone who helps a person who is overdosing on drugs to obtain immunity from prosecution in the following circumstances:

  • The person transported the person who was overdosing to a hospital or medical facility, to a law enforcement agency, or to a campus security office, and:
    1. The person dialed 911 or called emergency services to report the person was overdosing on drugs and was in need of immediate medical attention in order to prevent death or serious bodily injury;
    2. The person cooperated with the EMTs or emergency service providers;
    3. The person gives their name and locations; and,
    4. The person stayed with the person needing medical attention until emergency services arrived.

In addition, the law also states that the person who overdosed on drugs also cannot be criminally charged, if the person who assisted them qualifies for immunity under the above circumstances. Both will remain immune from prosecution.

The law is limited in that it does NOT apply if the following events have occurred:

  • Law enforcement learned of the drug overdose independently;
  • Drug delivery or Possession with Intent to Deliver;
  • Drug delivery resulting in death or drug-induced homicide, and;
  • Any other crime that may have occurred around the overdose event.

If you are with a friend or loved one who is experiencing an overdose from drugs, do not be afraid to call 911 or to seek medical attention or help from law enforcement agencies.

If you were charged with a drug crime, or your loved one was charged with a drug crime, contact our criminal drug lawyers in Pittsburgh, PA. We can help you understand your charges, prepare a strong and aggressive defense and try to get your charges reduced or dismissed.

PENNSYLVANIA DRUG CRIME LAWYERS

KETCHEL LAW 

CALL 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE LEGAL CASE EVALUATION

If you have been charged with a drug crime in Pennsylvania, contact Ketchel Law today. Our number one goal is to have your charges dismissed and your record clean.

_____________________

FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION

We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

Learn more about Ketchel Law:

 

 

 

Marijuana Reform—Federal and PA Changes Could Happen Soon

Federal Marijuana Reform: How it Could Impact Pennsylvania Marijuana Laws

The MORE Act and Pennsylvania Cannabis Laws

Federal Marijuana Reform

Nearing the end of its session in late 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would decriminalize marijuana on a federal level, as well as provide a pathway to erase nonviolent federal marijuana convictions.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, or MORE Act, would remove marijuana from the federal classification of a Schedule 1 drug, like heroin and cocaine.

marijuana—cannabis—reform—pennsylvania—federalThe passing of the MORE Act is mostly symbolic, as it wasn’t considered by the Senate before the end of its session.  This means it will need to be reintroduced and pass both the House (again) and the Senate in the next session of Congress.  [Further, the MORE Act is unlikely to make it through a Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.]

However, if the MORE Act becomes law and marijuana is removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, it is up to the states to enact statutes and regulations to govern the industry.

Some states have started to move towards decriminalization, and certain cities, like Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Erie and State College, have already begun decriminalizing marijuana in Pennsylvania.

Learn more about penalties for different schedules of drugs in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Marijuana Law Trends

Medical Marijuana Regulation

Pennsylvania currently allows marijuana to be used for medical purposes only.

In October 2020, the Pennsylvania House passed a bill to amend the commonwealth’s DUI law to decriminalize driving while traces of marijuana are still in the system of legal medical-marijuana users.  The amended bill states that an individual may not drive under a controlled substance, with the exception of “marijuana used lawfully in accordance with the act of April 17, 2016, known as the Medical Marijuana Act.”

In Pennsylvania, the current laws and provisions related to driving while under the influence of alcohol or substances, aka DUI, criminalize driving while tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a component of marijuana, is still in a driver’s system, even if it has been weeks after ingestion. This also applies if a driver is a legal medical cannabis user.  The legislation passed the House in a 109-93 vote, and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Read the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act.

Recreational Marijuana Regulation

The use of marijuana for recreational purposes is illegal in Pennsylvania.  While marijuana possession is a crime under Pennsylvania law, various local jurisdictions throughout the state have passed ordinances that “decriminalize” the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

This includes Pittsburgh, where possessing 30 grams or less is treated as a civil violation (as opposed to a criminal offense) that carries a $25 fine.

In addition, in late 2020, New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana, launching a legal marijuana industry in the Garden State. As a result, neighboring states like New York and Pennsylvania are under growing pressure to follow suit to avoid losing out on millions in revenue from marijuana sales.

Read more about decriminalization of marijuana in Pennsylvania.

Know Your Rights: Marijuana Possession Charges

Although attitudes about marijuana are changing rapidly, the use of marijuana without a medical purpose is still illegal in Pennsylvania.

Know your rights by reading our article on Marijuana / Cannabis Possession Charges in Pennsylvania.

Learn more about pardons / expungement for non-violent marijuana convictions in PA.

If you are in need of an experienced Pittsburgh Marijuana Lawyer Contact Attorney Ketchel for a free consultation.

 

PENNSYLVANIA DRUG CRIME LAWYERS

KETCHEL LAW 

CALL 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE LEGAL CASE EVALUATION

If you have been charged with a drug crime or marijuana possession in Pennsylvania, contact Ketchel Law today. Our number one goal is to have your charges dismissed and your record clean.

_____________________

FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION

We offer free legal consultations to anyone charged with a crime. Call us today to find out how we can help defend your rights.

Learn more about Ketchel Law:

 

Reduced Sentencing for 2nd DUI Offense in Pennsylvania

Second-Time DUI Offenders May be Eligible for Reduced Sentence

Will the New Pennsylvania Ruling Reduce Your DUI Penalties?

If you were recently charged with a DUI offense in Pennsylvania and considered a “second-time offender” because you already completed the ARD program for a previous offense, you may be eligible to have your current sentence/punishment reduced. 

You may be eligible for lower penalties under the Pennsylvania Post-Conviction Relief Act (PCRA) if:

  • You are currently serving your sentence as a second-time DUI offender;
  • You have not previously litigated or waived the issue of whether you committed the first-time offense; and
  • You file for relief within one year from the date of the judgment.

Defendant’s Acceptance of ARD Program Alone Cannot Heighten Defendant’s Sentencing

2nd DUI penalties pennsylvania

Recently, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania determined in Commonwealth v. Chichkin and Commonwealth v. Roche that the sole fact that a defendant completed an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program in the past, cannot be used as a “prior offense” for sentencing purposes because doing so violates constitutional due process.

In other words—your second DUI offense could be treated like a first DUI offense.

As you may know, a first DUI conviction has drastically different penalties than a second DUI conviction in Pennsylvania.

Read more about this new DUI ruling in Pennsylvania.

By being admitted to the ARD program, a defendant avoids trial and is not required to admit guilt.  Therefore, it cannot be considered as a “prior offense” for DUI sentencing unless the Commonwealth proves to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt the fact that the defendant has committed a prior DUI offense or the defendant admits to having committed the prior DUI offense.

The difference between a first-time and a second-time DUI offense is significant because the law imposes mandatory minimums for repeat offenders.  In addition, a third-time DUI conviction may result in felony charges.

Ketchel Law Successfully Reduced Sentence for DUI Offender who Previously Completed ARD Program

The PCRA allows individuals who are serving a sentence to challenge their conviction on the grounds that their conviction is unconstitutional.

Because the ruling in Chichkin held that it was unconstitutional to use an ARD as a “prior offense” to sentence a person as a second-time offender, Ketchel Law recently used this ruling to successfully argue a PCRA petition that resulted in the resentencing of a second-time DUI offense as a first-time offense for the client.

The client was eligible for relief because he was still serving his sentence, had not previously litigated or waived the issue, and timely filed the PCRA petition (within one year of the date of judgment).

Ketchel Law argued that because the court treated the fact that the client had previously completed an ARD program as a “prior” DUI offense, his sentence on the new DUI case as a second-time offense was illegal.  The court agreed and re-sentenced the client as a first-time DUI offender.

This changed the defendant’s sentence from a misdemeanor of the first degree (M1) to an ungraded misdemeanor and reduced the amount of allowable supervision from 5 years to 6 months.

If you have recently been sentenced on a second DUI offense and your first DUI was an ARD program, call Ketchel Law right away to inquire if you are eligible to file a PCRA petition and possibly have your sentence changed.

If you were charged with DUI in PennsylvaniaJustin Ketchel can help build a strong defense for your case and keep fines and sentencing to a minimum.

The first step is to get a free legal consultation from an experienced and successful DUI Lawyer in Pennsylvania.

OUR NUMBER ONE GOAL: HAVING YOUR DUI CHARGES DISMISSED.

CALL KETCHEL LAW TODAY: 412-456-1221 FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

For more information and to better understand Pennsylvania DUI Laws, visit the following pages: