PA CRIMINAL PROCEDURE
- PA does not recognize the “good faith” exception to defective warrants. In PA, a warrant
shown to be invalid because it was not based on probable cause cannot be saved merely
because it was reasonable on its face and the police relied on it in good faith.
- The U.S. Constitution sets the floor for defendants’ rights. State constitutions are free,
however, to “raise the floor” and give defendants greater rights. In many respects, the PA
Constitution does just that.
- The Doctrine of Independent State Grounds: if a state court decision contains mixed
references to both state and federal law without a “short and plain statement” clarifying
that its decision rests on independent state law grounds, the Court will assume that the
state court actually relied on federal grounds.
- The Edmunds decision:
Attorneys must raise, brief and argue four separate factors in any case implicating a
constitutional issue. These factors are:
1) The text of the applicable constitutional provision
2) The history of the provision, including relevant case law
3) Related case law from other states
4) Policy considerations, including unique issues of state and local concern
Failure to brief these four factors isn’t fatal to a π’s case, but the PA Supreme Court
strongly urges litigants to raise them.
- Under Article I, Section 8 of the PA Constitution, defendants charged with possessory
offenses have “automatic standing” to challenge the admissibility of evidence alleged to
be fruit of an illegal search.
- Pen registers and dialed number recorders violate PA notions of constitutional search and
- There’s a violation of Article I, Section 8 when, without a warrant, a hospital turns a
blood sample over to the police if the blood sample was taken strictly for medical
o However: under PA DUI Statutes, the police may order the hospital to take a
blood test to determine the defendant’s BAC.
- A canine sniff is a search under Article I, Section 8. Canine searches of people must be
supported by probable cause. Canine searches of places merely need to be supported by a
showing of “reasonable suspicion.”
- Under White, the police may not conduct a warrantless search of an automobile absent
- When police have neither probable cause nor a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity,
contraband discarded by a suspect fleeing a Terry stop is inadmissible as fruit of an
- PA had not adopted the Hudson “knock and announce” rule. When PA police fail to
knock and announce, evidence seized is inadmissible.
- Police may not send a wired informant into the defendant’s home because of the
defendant’s heightened expectation of privacy in the home.
- In Pennsylvania, the defendant does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his
phone calls. Thus, police agents may instigate and record phone calls without a warrant.
- Waiver of Miranda rights must be explicit.
- There’s no presumption that juveniles are incompetent to waive their Miranda rights.
Courts will use a totality of the circumstances approach to determine whether a juvenile’s
Miranda waiver was knowingly and voluntary.
- If Δ requests a jury trial he is entitled to a 12-person jury.
- Victims may introduce impact testimony at sentencing. This does not necessarily lead to
violations of the Article 1, Section 13 prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.