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  1. #1
    Mizzle87 is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005

    Info on Paraphernalia Charge, any help appreciated

    What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state? Pennsylvania

    I have a few questions that I'm hoping I will be able to get some answers on, as I am looking for information before I go to court. I'm sorry if this ends up being REALLY LONG to read, but I'm really looking for some information and I just want to make sure I explain what happened in detail.

    The situation happened like this:

    Two friends and I were skateboarding behind our local grocery store, were we used to always skate because it was a nice area in which we could skateboard without worrying about getting into trouble because the workers didn't mind us being there (as the back of the store does see much action) and we never bothered customers or anyone else by being there. However, on this occasion, we were told not to skate there because a truck shipment was coming in. Because we were told to leave, we started to walk to the front of the store (skateboards in hand) to get sodas from the machine before getting back into my car to leave.

    On our walk to the front of the store, we ran into a couple of our friends who worked at the Subway next to the grocery store. We were talking for a few minutes when a Police Officer drove by us and stopped his car. He got out of the car, and none of us moved at all (because we kinda figured he would want to talk to us about our skateboards), and we treated him pretty respectably. He told us that the store had called in a complaint of skateboarders, and that he came to follow-up on it, so we gladly told him what had happened (and how we usually skate there but always ask permission). He then started talking about how we can't skate there anyway (kinda starting to become an *******, even though we were still being respectful), so we argeed and offered up our IDs calmly (seeing as how we really weren't scared of skateboarding fines anyway, as they are just little fines).

    He then stepped back into his car for a few minutes while he ran all 3 of our IDs and the ID of one of our friends (because he was holding his skateboard also). When he came back out, he asked if any of us had previous charges on us (which was obviously just to mess with us, he would have seen any of our charges when he ran our IDs), so I told him I had a speeding ticket before, and the friend who was at Subway (who didn't skate with us but had his ID ran anyway) told the officer he just got off probation for possession of Marijuana.

    Then, for no apparent reason (other than perhaps because the other kid had just gotten off probation), the cop began to search the kid. When I say search, I mean he actually stuck his hands into the kid's pockets and pulled out everything he had on him (which turned out to just be some keys and change). After realizing the kids had no contraband on him, he allowed him to leave the scene, so it was just me and my two skater firends standing there with the cop.

    Now, I guess it's reasonable to realize that the cop may have had the right to search that kid, because he was just off probation for drug charges, but that should in no way affect his decision on what he should do with us, especially when no contraband was found on that kid.

    However, after the kid left, the cop asked if any of us drove to the store. Not wanting to lie to an officer, I told him I drove to the location (however I did not say whether the other two men rode in my car or not). He then began to search all of our pockets (without permission, without Probable Cause, and without even Reasonable Suspicion). There was no reason for any of us to be searched at that point in time, and we were even off the premises of the grocery store at this point.

    Anyway, the officer began to search all of us(starting with me) and pull out everything we had in our pockets. He yanked on my belt (to see if I had anything stuffed under it), lifted up my shirt and frisked me, the he PUT HIS HANDS INTO MY POCKETS and felt around my belongings. Now, because I was skating, I only had my car keys and some loose change on me. When he reached in to my pocket with the keys in it, he asked me what they were, I answered "Car keys" and he then told me to give them to him, which I did (since I wasn't worried of him searching my car because he had no permission or reason). As a matter of fact (since this all happened so long ago), he may have even PULLED THE KEYS OUT himself, but in either case I didn't think much of him doing that, because again, I wasn't worried because none of us had drug on us.

    He then searched my friend Nate in the same manner, finding nothing, and then he searched my friend Mark last. However, while searching Mark (and sticking his HANDS INTO Mark's POCKETS) he felt a sandwich baggy in Mark's cargo shorts pocket. Now, this was an empty sandwich baggy that posed no threat the the officer's safety (thus ruling out the cause of the search as to protect his safety), and from sticking his hand into the pocket, there was no way to know it was ever used for drugs. The officer then asked Mark what it was, and Mark didn't really even know what the officer was talking about (not knowing what was in his pockets and not being able to tell by feeling it on his leg, being that it was just an empty sandwich bag in a cargo shorts pocket) so he answered something along the lines of "I don't know".

    To this the officer began to get angry and told Mark to take it out of his pocket. Mark wasn't really thinking, and the officer was being fairly threatening, so he stuck his hand into his pocket and began to pull the bag out. Before the bag was even completely out of the pocket, the officer grabbed it from Mark's hand and took it from him (I guess to make sure he got it out and in the open before Mark could have a chance to realize what it was and shove it back into the pocket). The officer then smelled and held up the bag and asked Mark what it was for. Mark didn't have an answer (not wanting to say anything because he wasn't sure if the bag was ever used or not).

    The bag was COMPLETELY empty, no flakes or anything, the only evidence the cop could have had would be the smell of it, but he insisted on telling Mark that he was headed to jail for possessing "Paraphernalia". Since Mark was "headed to jail", the officer insisted on searching everything else Mark had, so the officer grabbed his skateboard backpack (that was laying on the ground near us) and asked if it was Mark's. Mark admitted it was (since it had evidence inside showing that anyway), and the officer opened it up and looked inside. He couldn't really see anything, so he asked Mark to dump it out, very threatheningly. Mark frightenly agreed and dumped out the bag, spilling bags of Marijuana onto the ground.

    Mark had just bought a few bags of different strains, so he had them in multiple bags (very bad to have in front of cops, because now the cop began to threathen charging him with Possession With Intent to Sell), and at this point, another officer on patrol drove by, saw what was going on, and stopped to join in.

    After they had put Mark into handcuffs and into the first police cruiser, the first officer walked back to me (and Nate) and asked "Now when I search your car am I going to find anything illegal?", to which I answered "I'd rather you not search my car so..." to which I was interrupted by the cop saying, "Well, I'm GOING to search your car, so is there anything I should know about?", to which I finally answered, "No, because I don't want you to search my car".

    Even after I expressed my disapproval of him wanting to search my car, he had the second officer lead us (me and Nate) back to my car while the first officer drove his cruiser with Mark in it back to my car aswell. When we got there We were forced to watch as the officers opened my car and began looking through everything. Inside, on the seats, covered up by shirts and hats (so NOTHING was visible from the outside of the car, or even visible without moving a bunch of stuff for that matter) they found two marijuana tin containers (both with less than a gram of marijauna each) and two pipes (one glass and one metal). Since it was all Nate's, Nate took responsibility of admitting to the officer's it was his.

    Nate was then put in handcuffs but not placed into a cruiser yet. The second officer then walked to the trunk of my car and tried to open it with my keys (although my trunk lock is broken and doesn't work like that anymore). The officer fumbled with it a little bit before he asked, "Is there another key for this or did you rig it not to open?", to which I responded, "No, the lock is broken, but I'm not giving you permission to search my trunk anyway..." to which I was interrupted by the first officer popping my trunk with the latch near the driver seat. In my trunk they found Nate's bong (which he admitted to) and MY shoebox of paraphernalia (one cheap plastic pipe, two metal pipes, and some baggies), which I admitted to owning.

    We were then all 3 taken down to the station for mugshots and to fill out paperwork. Since Nate was a juvenile, they let him go with a citation for Disorderly Conduct ($300 fine). Mark later got his papers in the mail, and was charged with Possession (about $350 fine, and just 1 month probation) and both Nate and Mark have served their sentances. I, however, got screwed over in the situation and have an upcoming Preliminary hearing for Paraphernalia charges (which in PA can be quite a pain in the ass, as it is MUCH worse than if I would have even just had an ounce of Marijuana possession). There is however, a mistake in the court papers I was sent. The police officer miswrote my birthday on the papers.

  2. #2
    Mizzle87 is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005



    I guess my questions are just:

    -Was I illegally searched? (I definitely believe I was, but will that hold up in court, especially when the cops lie about it?)

    -Is there anything I can do to prepare for the preliminary/court hearings?

    -Is there anyway the whole case can just be dropped because of the miswrite, since it proves the cop is negligent? (I'm not sure on this, but my dad mentioned it as a possiblility, ESPECIALLY because our district judge, who will hold the preliminary, is a really good old friend of my mom).

    -What kind of punishment do you think I will face if found "guilty"? (I know what it says on paper, but I was hoping maybe for some punishments from real-life similar case scenarios)

    -Is there anyway to plead for a lighter sentence? (Like perhaps plead for a possession charge instead of paraphernalia, as it is much lighter)?

    ANY help with this situation would be GREATLY appreciated, as I am really looking for answers with this problem.

  3. #3
    bigdreams11 is offline Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Your rights granted to you by the 4th amendment of the U.S. constitution were violated when the officer began searching you by inserting his hand into your pockets in stead of patting the outsides of them first to feel for any weapons. The officer violated your rights granted to you by the U.S. Constitution once again when he searched your vehicle when you told him you did not give him consent to do so. The vehicle had nothing to do with the incident for which the police were even called to. You should get a lawyer so they can file a motion to supress the evidence. The search that the police officer made of your person and property was unconstitutional and the evidence will most likely be supressed and the case dismissed.

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