Criminal Charges Overturned Due to Mistakes

Two criminal cases in Pennsylvania were overturned recently due to mistakes in the way an individual was charged. In one, charges were dropped against a driver suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) because he did not speak English, and in the second, a car was found to be illegally searched.

In the DUI matter, Vazquez-Santiago v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a driver was stopped on suspicion of DUI, and an officer read the consent warnings, but later testified that he wasn’t sure the driver understood him. The driver refused a blood test, but as the court ruled, due to the language barrier, he didn’t fully understand the implications of consenting to a test and didn’t realize he could refuse.

In the second case, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Barr, officers who had stopped a vehicle noticed the smell of marijuana. Though the driver presented a medical marijuana card, the police conducted a search and found an unlicensed firearm. Since medical marijuana is now legal in Pennsylvania, the court, citing a previous ruling, said that smell can factor into a probable cause but can’t be the only reason for a search.

Some criminal statutes can be confusing, but an experienced criminal defense attorney in Pennsylvania knows both the laws and precedential rulings that may help your case. Please reach out to us, as our firm is recognized as being at the forefront of litigating these types of cases throughout the commonwealth.