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June 2013 Archives

Temptation Awaits Penn State "Freshman Summer" Students

Each year at the end of June, scores of students just a few weeks removed from high school graduation arrive at Penn State for "Freshman Summer." A high percentage of those enrolled in the second summer session at Penn State are freshman, because some students are accepted to the main campus at University Park as freshman only if they are willing to start classes in June. Not surprisingly, temptation awaits these young people, who generally are away from adult supervision for the first time in their lives.

Drunken Assaults Abound at Heinz Field Kenny Chesney Show

Apparently, Penn State fans and students are not the only people in Pennsylvania who get drunk and rowdy in large crowds. At last Saturday's Kenny Chesney concert at Heinz Field, police arrested or cited 73 people in and around Heinz Field, while an additional 43 underage drinking citations were issued during a sweep of the parking lots. Police also had to break up at least ten large fights, which will lead to assault charges. This seems like a lot of violence for a style of music, which does not exactly lead to mosh pits and slam dancing. A total of 45 people were hospitalized for injuries and/ or alcohol overdoses, which dwarfs the hospital transports to Beaver Stadium even for late kick-offs, even though we draw significantly more people for Penn State football games than Heinz Field draws for any event.

Pennsylvania Woman Charged with Third DUI Had Child in Car During Last Two Arrests

People charged with a third DUI are a dime a dozen; they tend to simply be alcoholics who are extremely careless and who do not live within walking distance of where they drink. What is noteworthy, however, is a Pennsylvania woman who not only is on her third DUI, but also had a child in the car during her last two DUI arrests. When Joanna S. Smith was arrested in York County on May 27, 2013, she allegedly had a .22 BAC. To make matters far worse, she also had a six year old boy in the back seat.

Bringing Marijuana onto State Prison Grounds leads to Charges

A Pittsburgh woman recently found out the hard way
what the consequences are for bringing a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia onto state prison grounds. The 20 year old college student was apparently attempting to visit someone at the new SCI Benner Township facility next to SCI Rockview, when drug sniffing dogs alerted corrections officers to the presence of contraband. A subsequent search revealed a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in the defendant's possession.

Drugs: Bath Salts Remain a Problem in Pennsylvania Despite Ban

Bath salts have been an illegal drug in Pennsylvania since August, 2011. Possession of bath salts is an ungraded misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine, while the sale or possession with intent to deliver bath salts is an ungraded felony punishable by up to five years in state prison and a $15,000 fine. But banning a drug does not eliminate demand, and where there is a demand, there will usually be a supply.

What is ROR Bail?

Some form of bail must be set in all misdemeanor, felony or homicide cases in Pennsylvania. By far the most common form of bail is ROR, especially here in Centre County, where we have a lot of non-violent offenses like DUI, small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. ROR stands for "released on own recognizance." That means that the defendant need not post any form of cash bail. Rather, the defendant must simply promise to appear at all future court proceedings.Centre_County_Courthouse-thumb-400x337-21337.jpg

Heroin Addict Posing as Cancer Patient Scams People for Drug Money

"Never trust a junky" is a famous line voiced by Chloe Webb in her portrayal of Nancy Spungen in the 1986 cult film "Sid and Nancy." And for good reason. Heroin addicts are infamous for conning and scamming people. Heroin creates such a powerful physical and psychological addiction that not a day can go by without shooting up or snorting. While many are "functioning addicts," who hold down jobs, heroin also tends to ensnare the type of people who are too dysfunctional to hold down a job even when they are sober. Thus, thinking up scams and cons becomes the addicts job.

Evidence: What is Hearsay?

The rules concerning the admissibility or inadmissibility of hearsay are among the most important among the various rules of evidence, and they are also among the most misunderstood. Hearsay is defined under the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence as "a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at trial or hearing, offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted." More simply stated, hearsay occurs when a witness testifies in court about what someone else said, as evidence of a particular fact. For example, if Witness X testifies that the bartender at Dionysus's Den told him that he saw Mr. Defendant at Dionysus' Den five minutes before Mr. Defendant allegedly shot Mr. Victim outside the bar, that would be hearsay. If the bartender himself testifies that he saw Mr. Defendant in the bar, that would not be hearsay; it would be direct eye witness testimony.

Marijuana Cultivation Charges Lodged Against Real Life Nancy Botwin

A suburban mom from Scarsdale, NY, one of America's wealthiest communities, faces federal charges for running a multi-million dollar marijuana grow operation out of a warehouse in Queens. The fact that Andrea Sanderlin lived a double-life as a marijuana "queenpin" and an upper-class, white, suburban mom is drawing inevitable comparisons to the fictional character Nancy Botwin, of the hit Showtime series "Weeds," who once marketed a product known as "MILF Weed."

Colorado's New Marijuana Regulations are Overly Burdensome

When Colorado voters approved a state constitutional amendment repealing Marijuana Prohibition last November, the next step was to draft laws regulating cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol. For practical reasons, Governor John Hickenlooper signed the new marijuana regulations into law on May 28, 2013, despite having been an opponent of the re-legalization of marijuana. I never thought that I would find myself taking issue with any legislation re-legalizing an unjustly demonized plant species, however, I simply cannot agree with a law, which more tightly regulates cannabis than alcohol.

Accomplice Liability Will Sink All Three Suspects in Mike Adams Stabbing

Steelers offensive tackle Mike Adams was attacked by three men on the South Side of Pittsburgh in a failed car jacking attempt in the early morning hours of June 1, 2013. The robbers failed to steal Adams' truck, but one of the thugs stabbed him in the stomach and forearm before running off. Another one of the thugs pointed a handgun in Adams' face, but fortunately, was wise enough not to pull the trigger and add a second degree murder charge to the list of serious felonies, which the suspects will be charged with when they are tracked down. Adams is expected to make a full recovery and is in good spirits.

Pennsylvania Man Not Guilty of Resisting Arrest in "Cover Charge" Case

On August 5, 2012, two Springettsbury Township police officers confronted 57 year old Steven Landis, who was wanted for misdemeanor domestic violence charges, stemming from an incident earlier in the day. Officer Chad Moyer claimed that when Landis failed to put his hands behind his back, Moyer took Landis to the ground with a leg sweep, causing Landis to land on his stomach. When Landis continued to refuse to put his hands behind his back, Moyer delivered a "compliance strike," to Landis' left side, resulting in five broken ribs. For good measure, Officer William Polizzotto then stunned Landis in the buttocks with a Taser, before Landis was cuffed, and ultimately charged with resisting arrest.

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