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Search and Seizure: Pennsylvania Man Victimized by Devious, Estranged Wife

Recently, I posted a blog entry entitled "Beware of the Enemy Within," in which I describe a not uncommon scenario where an angry wife or girlfriend runs to the police to implicate her boyfriend or husband for drug possession. Perhaps if a West Manheim Township man would have read my blog post and heeded its warning, he would not find himself in the world of pain he is in now.

On May 13, 2013, David Meganhardt called police to report that his estranged wife had stayed at his place for several days while he was out of town, without his permission. This led police to arrest Leslie Megenhardt for criminal trespass, when she refused their order to leave the premises. The old adage is that those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Leslie got her revenge by pointing out to the police that David was growing marijuana in a backyard shed. Given the fact that Leslie was brazen enough to disregard her husband's rights by trespassing on his property, and then refusing a police order to leave the premises, it should come as no surprise that she was also devious enough to implicate her soon-to-be ex-husband in a serious felony.marijuana_leaf_pictures.jpg

It is unclear whether the police obtained a search warrant, or David Megenhardt consented to a search when confronted by the police. At any rate, the police discovered evidence of a cannabis grow operation, just as Leslie had indicated. Later, the police discovered David's truck in Maryland, with 48 cannabis plants. Accoridngly, David Megenhardt now faces drug charges in both Pennsylvania and Maryland. Pursuant to the "dual sovereignty doctrine," both Pennsylvania and Maryland could prosecute Mr. Megenhardt for the same criminal episode, and he could receive separate sentences, without double jeopardy being implicated. That being said, often times in a non-violent case such as this, the state, which is less involved, may be content to allow the more-involved state to handle the prosecution. Pennsylvania would be the more-involved state, because Pennsylvania Police conducted the investigation, the alleged grow operation was in Pennsylvania, and the defendant is a Pennsylvania resident.

Although the plants were found in Maryland, York County prosecutors can argue that strong circumstantial evidence suggests that they were grown in Pennsylvania. Mr. Megenhardt faces a mandatory minimum sentence of three to six years in state prison under the Pennsylvania Drug Device and Cosmetic Act if he is convicted of cultivating 48 marijuana plants. If he enters into a plea agreement, he will likely receive a sentence more favorable than the ridiculously draconian mandatory minimum.

Matt McClenahen is a criminal defense attorney in State College, PA, with extensive experience in drug cases. http://www.mattmlaw.com/Criminal-Defense-Overview/Drug-Felonies.shtml

Source: http://www.ydr.com/crime/ci_23271590/police-west-manheim-man-arrested-up-36-50?source=most_viewed

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