Criminal

July 23rd, 2019 by Rieders Travis in Criminal

CRIMINAL LAW-SEARCH AND SEIZURE-SEARCH WARRANT-REAL TIME SITE LOCATION INFORMATION

Commonwealth v. Pacheco, 2021 Pa. LEXIS 3999 (November 17, 2021) Baer, C.J.  We granted allowance of appeal to determine whether trial court orders that authorized the disclosure of Appellant David Pacheco’s real-time cell site location information (“CSLI”) were the functional equivalent of search warrants and satisfied the requisites of the Fourth Amendment pursuant to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Carpenter, 138 S.Ct. 2206, 201 L. Ed. 2d 507 (2018).  The court held that the challenged orders were the functional equivalent of search warrants and complied with the Fourth Amendment.  Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the Superior Court, which affirmed Appellant’s judgment of sentence.

CRIMINAL LAW-INTERNET CONNECTION RECORDS-CONSENT

Commonwealth v. Dunkins, 2021 Pa. LEXIS 3994 (November 17, 2021) Dougherty, J. We granted review to determine whether the trial court erred by denying suppression of wireless internet network (WiFi) connection records obtained by police without a warrant from the Information Technology Department of Moravian College. For the following reasons, we conclude this search was constitutionally permissible, and accordingly, we affirm the order of the Superior Court.

By assenting to the Computing Resources Policy and logging on to the Moravian College WiFi network on his cell phone thereafter, appellant specifically agreed he “cannot and should not have any expectation of privacy with regard to any data . . . created or stored on computers within or connected to the institution’s network.” Computing Resources Policy. Appellant further agreed “[a]ll Internet data composed, transmitted, or received through the institution’s computer system is considered part of the institution’s records and, as such, subject at any time to disclosure to institutional officials, law enforcement, or third parties[.]” Id. These acts by appellant provide clear intent to relinquish any purported expectation of privacy in the WiFi connection records. Furthermore, this abandonment by appellant was voluntary. Although appellant was required to assent to the Computing Resources Policy and other policies in the Student Handbook prior to enrolling at Moravian College, he further acquiesced to the consequences of the Computing Resources Policy upon “[l]ogging in to or otherwise connecting to the campus network[.]” Id. Nothing in the Computing Resources Policy required appellant to log on to Moravian’s WiFi network on his cell phone and remain connected on that device at all times, but he did so voluntarily. Accordingly, we have little difficulty concluding appellant abandoned any purported expectation of privacy in the WiFi connection records and his suppression motion was properly denied. We therefore affirm the order of the Superior Court.

CRIMINAL-DRIVER’S LICENSE SUSPENSION

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Middaugh, Pa. No. 45 MAP 2019 (S. Ct. January 20, 2021) (Saylor, C.J.)  We allowed appeal to determine whether the Department of Transportation (PennDOT) was precluded from suspending an individual’s driving privileges based on a DUI conviction, where there was a lengthy delay between the conviction and the time the driver was notified of the suspension. We ultimately agree with the Gingrich/Middaugh line of Commonwealth Court decisions to the extent it suggests that a license suspension which is unreasonably delayed through no fault of the driver’s can potentially result in a denial of due process.  Gingrich v. PennDOT, 134 A.3d 528 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2016); Middaugh v. PennDOT, 196 A.3d 1073 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2018) (en banc).

Under these facts, we conclude that the trial court’s finding – that Appellee would suffer prejudice if the suspension were to be imposed at this juncture – is supported by competent evidence of record, and moreover, it demonstrates that prejudice would follow from the fact of the delay itself. Additionally, there is no dispute that Appellee did not accrue any additional Vehicle Code violations after his predicate DUI conviction. We therefore agree with the Commonwealth Court majority that a suspension at this late date will have lost much of its effectiveness with regard to its underlying legislative purposes, result in prejudice which can be attributed to the delay, and ultimately deny fundamental fairness.

PREEMPTION-CRIMINAL LAW

Kansas v. Garcia, 2020 U.S. LEXIS 1511 (March 3, 2020) Alito, J.  Kansas criminal law is not preempted by federal law dealing with immigration, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.  The fact that there may be overlap does not support the case for preemption.  There is no suggestion that the Kansas prosecutions frustrated any federal interest.  The possibility that federal enforcement priorities might be upset is not enough to provide a basis for preemption.  The supremacy clause gives priority to the laws of the United States, not the criminal law enforcement priorities or preferences of federal officers.  The mere fact that state laws like Kansas overlap to some degree with federal criminal provisions does not even begin to make a case for conflict preemption.  

Drivers with Multiple DUI Offenses in Pennsylvania

Drivers who repeatedly drive while intoxicated, even after getting multiple DUI convictions, put themselves and others at risk.

Drunk driving is a major cause of car crashes that kill and maim people throughout Pennsylvania.  In 2017, the department of transportation (PennDOT) recorded 12,040 crashes where a driver was suspected of being impaired, a 2.1 percent increase from 2016.

With the holiday drinking season in full swing, Pennsylvania lawmakers have voted to increase penalties for repeat DUI offenders. On December 23, 2018, a law went into effect that increases penalties for those with a third conviction of driving with at least twice the legal limit of alcohol in their system, and for anyone with fourth DUI convictions. In addition, mandatory jail time for repeat offenders is longer.

If you or a loved one was injured or if someone has died in a crash involving drunk driving, you may have a claim for compensation for your losses. This includes medical, hospital and rehabilitation costs, lost past and future wages, loss of wage horizon, and other economic expenses.  Compensation may also include the even more significant concept of non-economic damages such as loss of life’s pleasures, pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of family relationships, consortium, society and services.  A host of other damages are involved in connection with wrongful death and survival actions.

However, Pennsylvania laws are complex, and your case must be handled correctly and competently or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to.  It makes sense to get legal representation before you talk to an insurance company in order to protect your rights and maximize the compensation you receive.

Attorney Clifford A. Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann knows the courts, the insurance companies, the system, and what you need to do to increase your chances of winning a good settlement. Our attorneys have successfully represented people who have been harmed in crashes involving drunk drivers throughout Pennsylvania. Call or contact us online today to set up your free consultation.

Pennsylvania DUI Laws

Pennsylvania already had strict DUI laws on the books.  There is a three-tier system with penalties increasing as blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) increase from .08, to .10, to .159, to .16 or higher.

Penalties and jail time increase with each subsequent DUI, with a look-back period of 10 years:

  • First offense — no minimum jail time required and offenders can be fined $300.
  • Second offense — jail up to 6 months, a fine of $300 to $2,500, and a 12-month license suspension.
  • Third offense — up to 2 years’ jail time, fines of up to $5,000, and a 12-month license suspension.

The new legislation has established the state’s first felony for DUI. It applies when someone has been charged with a third offense in a decade with at least twice the legal limit for alcohol or for any fourth-time offense. There are increased fines and penalties for driving under the influence on a license suspended because of a DUI conviction and longer jail time for those who unintentionally cause someone’s death because of a repeat DUI violation.

Will Tougher Laws Help?

According to Pennlive.com, there are about 250,000 repeat DUI offenders in Pennsylvania and about 140,000 persons whose licenses are currently suspended because of a DUI.

While the new laws provide drivers with an additional reason not to drive while impaired for potential first-time offenders, it may not do much to stop habitual and addicted substance abusers. However, increased penalties may take some of the worst offenders off the road for a longer period of time once they are caught.

If You Are in a Crash

Survivors of a drunk driving accident may be left with serious and debilitating injuries that can change their life forever. Since anyone who operates a motor vehicle is required to drive responsibly and practice safe driving habits, DUI drivers must be held responsible for injuries they cause. In addition to criminal charges for being impaired, drivers may be sued for negligence in a civil suit.  If the at-fault driver receives a DUI citation, it can positively affect your civil lawsuit, including allowing you to receive punitive damages, which are not covered by insurance.

Limited Tort

Where drunk drivers are concerned, limited tort options may not apply.  The Financial Responsibility Law is an important and complex piece of legislation which governs recovery where there has been an auto collision.  The equation changes when a drunk driver is involved.  Drunk driving may also lead to punitive damages.

Contact us For Help and Guidance

If you or a loved one has suffered personal injury or someone has died from a vehicle crash caused by an impaired driver, you are entitled to compensation for your damages. However, Pennsylvania personal injury laws are complex, and insurance companies will try to get you to accept the lowest settlement possible. In order to get the best settlement possible, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to guide you through the process.

The seasoned Pennsylvania DUI personal injury attorney Cliff Rieders of Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann, is a Past President of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association.  Rieders has won numerous awards and recognition from the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, and he received the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority recognition award.  He was a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and served on same for 15 years.

Rieders was a Law Clerk in the federal court system for one of the most well-known and longest serving federal judges in the country, the Honorable Malcolm Muir.  Cliff has received the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, as well as the Milton D. Rosenberg Award from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. He is on committees and organizations that write the law in many fields of practice and was involved in the writing of the Mcare Act, which governs medical liability actions in Pennsylvania.

Cliff Rieders wrote “the book” on medical malpractice that lawyers use in the Commonwealth.  Cliff also teaches the subject of medical malpractice at seminars attended by the leading lawyers in the state.  Cliff Rieders is recognized as an outstanding authority in both the financial responsibility medical malpractice fields.  Cliff has testified before the legislature on medical malpractice laws and has supported organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  Rieders is a Nationally Board-certified specialist for Civil Trial and Civil Practice and Procedure, a cum laude graduate of New York University as well as Georgetown University Law Center.  Rieders is admitted in Pennsylvania, New York State, District of Columbia and numerous federal courts including the Supreme Court of the United States and is a life member of the American Law Institute which publishes recommended legal principles utilized throughout the United States.

Cliff Rieders is the lawyer that other lawyers call for counsel and advice in the medical and hospital malpractice and pharmaceutical/vitamin supplement fields.  He does substantial work in multi-district litigation in connection with pharmaceutical products and medical devices.

Based in Williamsport, the DUI personal injury attorney Clifford A. Rieders at Rieders, Travis, Humphrey, Waters & Dohrmann serves clients throughout Pennsylvania, offering a free consultation on all personal injury matters. More than that, we offer you experience, knowledge, compassion, and a long history of results.

Do not delay. Contact us online or call our offices today to set up your free consultation.

CRIMINAL-DRIVER’S LICENSE SUSPENSION-TIMELINESS

Middaugh v. Commonwealth 2018 Pa Cmwlth LEXIS 614 (October 31, 2018) Ceisler, J. – In Gingrich v. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing, 134 A.3d 528 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2016) (en banc), we held, premised on arguments raising issues of due process and fairness, that a delay in reporting a licensee’s conviction for violating the Vehicle Code, even though not attributable to the Department of Transportation, could be the basis upon which a civil license suspension appeal may be sustained, if the licensee demonstrates three factors. Id., at 534-35. First, the licensee must demonstrate that there was an extraordinarily extended delay in the reporting of the licensee’s conviction. Second, the licensee must demonstrate that the licensee has no further violations of the Vehicle Code for an extended period. Third, the licensee must demonstrate that the licensee suffered prejudice as a result of the delay. Of these factors, the first, whether the non-Departmental delayed constitutes an extraordinarily extended period of time, has become the focus of many appeals based on Gingrich, including the one before us now. Applying the Gingerich factors, the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County (common pleas) sustained the appeal of Steven Middaugh (Licensee) of his one-year license suspension, which was based upon his conviction for driving under the influence (DUI). The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Driver Licensing (Department) has appealed common pleas’ Order, arguing common pleas misapplied the first Gingrich factor. Here, following a hearing, common pleas applied the Gingrich factors and held that Licensee met the burden of proving his license suspension fell within Gingrich. On appeal, the Department challenges common pleas’ conclusion that the 2-year, 4-month delay in the Delaware County Office of Judicial Support’s (OJS) reporting the conviction to the Department constituted an “extraordinarily extended period of time” when compared to the 10-year delay at issue in Gingrich. After review, we agree with common pleas that OJS’s 2-year, 4-month delay in reporting Licensee’s conviction to the Department meets the first factor of the Gingrich test. Therefore, we affirm common pleas’ sustaining of Licensee’s appeal.

MALICIOUS PROSECUTION-CRIMINAL CHARGES

Zimmerman v. Corbett, 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 20115 (3rd Cir. October 16, 2017) McKee, C.J. Appellants are current and former high ranking officials of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, including a former Attorney General who subsequently became Governor. They appeal the District Court’s partial denial of their motion for judgment on the pleadings in an action that John Zimmerman, a former employee of the state legislature, filed against them under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Zimmerman alleged that Appellants were all involved in bringing criminal charges against him and that those charges amounted to malicious prosecution in violation of both the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Pennsylvania law. We conclude that there was probable cause to initiate those criminal proceedings and that Zimmerman can therefore not establish a prima facie case of malicious prosecution. We will therefore reverse the District Court’s order insofar as it denied Appellants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings.

Criminal Impersonation

Golb v. The Attorney General of the State of New York No. 16-0452-pr, 16-0647-pr (2nd Cir. August 31, 2017) Jacobs, C.J.  In this case, Golb impersonated Schiffman and “admitted” plaguerism and misrepresentation.  The emails were clearly sent with intent to damage Schiffman’s reputation.  The district court denied habeas as to the convictions of criminal impersonation.  However, the court did grant habeas relief based upon an overbroad New York statute that was narrowed.  An email that is so mild and puerile that it might have been intended to embarrass somebody named Ehrman without actual injury, obviously is not going to be punishable. The court rejects the overbreadth challenge to the narrowed statute. The First Amendment does not protect impersonation.  Impersonation is not parody.  The overbreadth would be insufficient to invalidate the statute.  The statute criminalizes impersonation with the intent to harm another’s reputation.  The criminal impersonation statute is not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad.  Five of the forgery convictions were based on emails falsely attributed to Schiffman.  Those convictions survived because the evidence so clearly supports Golb’s intention to deceive and cause injury.  As to the other five forgery convictions, it is so likely that the jury applied the law in an unconstitutional way to convict Golb that habeas relief is required.  Our office represented Larry Schiffman on the civil side.

CRIMINAL LAW-EXPUNGEMENT-CRITERIA

Commonwealth v. Giulian, 141 A.3d 1262 (Pa. 2016).  We get lots of phone calls for people who want to have criminal records expunged.  This is governed by a statute in Pennsylvania, 18 Pa. C.S. § 9122(b)(3).  The statute, in relevant part, permits expungement when the individual is free of arrest or prosecution for five (5) years following the conviction for that offence.  The Supreme Court case looks at whether it is an abuse of discretion for a court to refuse expungement.  The expungement may be granted only in very limited circumstances set forth in the statute.  Here, the lower court was reversed and the matter remanded for further proceedings.  Factors to consider in whether to expunge criminal records include:  (1) strength of Commonwealth’s case; (2) Commonwealth reasons for wishing to retain records; (3) petitioner’s age, criminal record, and employment history; (4) length of time between arrest and petition to expunge; and (5) adverse consequences resulting from denial.

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]

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