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Commonwealth. v. V.C., Clinton County, Pennsylvania (June, 2019)

Client was pulled over on Interstate 80 for following a tractor-trailer too closely. Client did not speak English and ultimately permitted the State Trooper to search his vehicle, which yielded approximately 39 pounds of marijuana.

Client, who was not a U.S. citizen, was arrested and charged with felony drug trafficking charges, and would be subject to removal proceedings if convicted of any or all of the charges.  Attorney Marc A. Decker successfully argued that Client’s consent to the search at issue was not knowing, intelligent, or voluntary given due to the State Trooper’s unlawful procedures, and in violation of the Pennsylvania and United States constitutions.  Motion to Suppress Evidence GRANTED.

Commonwealth v. P.R., Centre County, Pennsylvania (May, 2018)

Client was pulled over on Interstate 80 for allegedly having an obscured license plate. Client did not speak English, and the State Trooper who pulled Client over detained him for approximately 20 minutes and asked him numerous questions unrelated to the traffic violation through the Google Translate app on his phone.  The State Trooper asked Client for permission to search his vehicle, which Client denied.  Client was then detained for an extended period of time while a drug sniffing dog was dispatched to the scene.  The dog alerted to the presence of narcotics, and a search was conducted of Client’s vehicle, which yielded 43 pounds of marijuana.

Client, who was not a U.S. citizen, was arrested and charged with felony drug trafficking charges, and would be subject to removal proceedings if convicted of any or all of the charges.  Attorney Marc A. Decker successfully argued that the traffic stop for obscured license plates was illegal and not supported by probable cause that Client had committed a motor vehicle code violation.  The Court agreed that the State Trooper illegally pulled Client over in violation of the Pennsylvania and United States constitutions, and ultimately GRANTED Client’s Motion to Suppress Evidence.

Commonwealth v. R.V., Centre County, Pennsylvania (November, 2018)

Client was pulled over on Interstate 80 for changing lanes without utilizing a turn signal.  The State Trooper who pulled Client over detained him for over 40 minutes and asked him numerous questions unrelated to the traffic violation.  The State Trooper asked Client for permission to search his vehicle, and Client agreed to a search.  However, rather than conducting a hand-search of the vehicle right then and there, the State Trooper requested a drug sniffing dog be dispatched to the scene, which took nearly an hour to arrive.   When the dog arrived, the State Troopers removed three packages wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper that were located in the back seat of Client’s vehicle so the dog could conduct a sniff search on said packages.  The dog alerted on two of the package, which were then opened by the State Troopers, and were discovered to contain approximately 20 pounds of marijuana.

Client was arrested and charged with felony drug trafficking charges.  Attorney Marc A. Decker filed several motions to suppress the marijuana and argued, among other things, that Client’s consent to the search did not extend to the use of a drug sniffing dog.  The Trial Court denied Client’s motion to suppress the marijuana, and Attorney Marc A. Decker appealed this decision to the Pennsylvania Superior Court.  In a published opinion, the Superior Court upheld the Trial Court’s decision and refused to suppress the marijuana at issue. Attorney Marc A. Decker then petitioned to the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court, the highest court in Pennsylvania, and requested that they hear this appeal due to the significance of the legal issue presented.  The Supreme Court granted Client’s appeal and Attorney Marc A. Decker successfully argued that the canine sniff at issue was outside of the scope of Client’s consent, and therefore violated the Pennsylvania and United States constitutions, and ultimately REVERSED the lower court decisions and the evidence was ultimately SUPPRESSED.  This case changed the law throughout Pennsylvania dealing with the scope of consent searches and the use of drug sniffing dogs.  See Commonwealth v. Valdivia, 195 A.3d 855, 857 (Pa. 2018).

January 2015 — Clinton County

Client was charged with Possession With Intent to Deliver Heroin, Crack Cocaine, and Marijuana, all felonies, after his bedroom was searched by Lock Haven City Police. Client was potentially facing state prison time and a two-year mandatory minimum jail sentence if convicted.

Client was a student at Lock Haven University at the time and receiving financial aid from the federal government. If Client was convicted of ANY drug trafficking or drug possession-related crimes he would have been prohibited from receiving any federal financial aid for at least one year.

After meeting with the Client on several occasion, interviewing eyewitnesses, conducting a scene review, and reviewing police reports, criminal defense attorney Marc A. Decker filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence due to Client’s constitutional rights being violated.

Specifically, the police entered Client’s residence without a search warrant or Clients permission. Upon entering the Client’s bedroom, the officer noticed some suspected marijuana on the floor. The Officer then detained the Client and demanded that Client consent to a search of his entire room. A search was then conducted and a substantial amount of heroin and cocaine were discovered.

Sound Legal Advice: Never consent to a search of your person, property, residence, or vehicle. Demand that the police first obtain a warrant!!!

At the hearing on the Suppression Motion, Attorney Decker meticulously cross-examined the arresting officer in a manner that exposed the fact that this officer withheld evidence and secretly redacted portions of his incident report.

Results: Felony Drug Trafficking Charges DISMISSED.

December 2014  Clearfield County

Landlord made complaint to Clearfield County Police that Client/Tenant damaged property within the leased premises. Client was subsequently charged with Criminal Mischief, a Misdemeanor of the Third Degree.

A Misdemeanor of the Third Degree is punishable by up to One Year incarceration and a fine of up to $2,500.

Client was also on parole at the time of the alleged incident, and if convicted of the new Criminal Mischief charges Client was facing an additional six months jail sentence.

At the Preliminary Hearing, criminal defense lawyer Marc A. Decker successfully argued to the Magisterial District Judge that this matter was a classic landlord/tenant dispute, which was better suited for civil court as opposed to criminal court.

Results: Criminal Mischief charge DISMISSED.

December 2014 — Centre County

Client was a Penn State Student attending a party at his friend’s house. There were many people at the residence and the music was loud. State College Police Officers were dispatched to the house party where they encountered the Client at the front door. After questioning the Client, the officers charged him with Disorderly Conduct (Unreasonable Noise), a Summary offense, and Overcrowding, in violation of a local ordinance.

A summary trial was scheduled before a Magisterial District Judge. Client appeared in court without counsel and presented his argument to the Judge. At the conclusion of the hearing the Judge found him Guilty of all charges and imposed a fine of more than $1,500.

Client contacted Penn State criminal defense attorney Marc Decker to appeal the Magisterial District Judge’s ruling. At Client’s Summary Appeal Hearing, Attorney Decker cross-examined the prosecution’s witnesses and exposed critical flaws in the case. Namely that the officers were operating under the mistaken belief that the Client either lived at the residence or was responsible for hosting the party.

Results: At the conclusion of the hearing, the Centre County Court of Common Pleas Judge found Client NOT GUILTY of all charges.

Sound Legal Advice: Never show up to court unrepresented! If nothing else, at least consult with an attorney. Abraham Lincoln wisely stated: “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Contact the experienced attorneys at Decker Bradburn, Attorneys at Law, by email or by calling 814-470-8023 and schedule a FREE CONSULTATION.

September 2014 — Centre County

Facts: Client was a foreign student, whose family purchased a new car in Illinois to be used while Client attended college at PSU.

Subsequently, Client was pulled over for a minor equipment violation and it was determined by the police that the car had never been registered in Pennsylvania.

Strategy And Action: The lawyers at Decker Bradburn, Attorneys at Law, contacted Client’s Father and learned that the car had been registered in the Client’s country of national origin instead of Pennsylvania.

With extensive experience with the Motor Vehicle Code, Attorney Bradburn immediately discerned that there was a statutory exception for nonresidents, which had specific proof requirements that needed to be timely demonstrated.

In order to avail oneself of this defense, proof of the Client’s nonresidency and that the vehicle had been properly registered in the foreign country on the date of the offense was required to be provided to the Magisterial District Judge within five days of when the charge was filed, which would result in the charge being dismissed.

Attorney Bradburn immediately obtained a copy of Client’s driver’s license from his country of national origin from Client and the Client’s father faxed registration paperwork from that same country such that all required information was timely given to the Court.

Result: Case DISMISSED upon receipt of this information without a hearing.

Sound Legal Advice: Sometimes there are deadlines that need to be strictly adhered to, so do not delay in consulting with or obtaining an experienced attorney such as Wayne E. Bradburn, Jr., and Marc A. Decker.

Sound Legal Advice: Just because you “did it” doesn’t automatically mean you’re “guilty.” An experienced traffic law Attorney can quickly identify if any exceptions or statutory defenses might be applicable to your case.

September 2014 — Centre County

Client was pulled over by the Pennsylvania State Police for crossing the double yellow line and speeding. During the traffic stop, one of the state troopers ordered the Client out of her vehicle to perform standard field sobriety tests in below freezing temperatures and in bare feet.

Client did not perform the standard field sobriety tests to the trooper’s satisfaction and she was placed under arrest for suspicion of DUI. Client verbally protested and attempted to speak with the passenger of her vehicle so as to give that person instructions about what to do with her vehicle.

At this time, Client was physically restrained by two state troopers, and one of the troopers tased the client several times. The state trooper then accidently shot himself with his own taser such that he required medical attention.

Client was then charged with Aggravated Assault, a felony, and several misdemeanors, including Simple Assault, Resisting Arrest and DUI.

Client hired Centre County Criminal Defense Attorneys Wayne Bradburn and Marc Decker. At trial, Attorney Bradburn and Attorney Decker were able to show the jury that the state trooper injured himself due to his own negligence, and that the Client was well within her rights to verbally protest her arrest.

Results: The jury returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY on the charges of Aggravated Assault, Simple Assault and Resisting Arrest.

September 2013 — Centre County

Facts: Upon the advice of his prior counsel, Client rejected a written plea offer from the prosecution which required him to plead guilty to 25 counts of Possession Of Child Pornography in exchange for a recommended sentence of 11 and one-half s to 23 and one-half months of incarceration, plus a consecutive sentence of seven years of Probation.

In the Commonwealth’s handwritten plea offer, it was specified “Def. free to argue for county time compared to state.” In the Commonwealth’s typewritten plea offer, it was similarly asserted that “[i]n this offer, the Def. would be free to argue for county placement and the Commonwealth would argue for state placement.”

Instead, Def.’s family attorney recommended that Client plead open to 365 counts of Possession Of Child Pornography as it was suggested that this was his best course for obtaining a county jail sentence, which was Def.’s primary objective.

After throwing himself at the mercy of the Court, Client received a sentence of five years to 10 years in a state correctional institute, plus a consecutive sentence of 10 years Probation.

Attorney Bradburn was retained with the goal of obtaining a lesser jail sentence and possibly even having him serve that sentence in a county jail.

Action and Strategy: Timely Post-Sentence Motions were filed including a Motion To Withdraw Guilty Plea on the basis that there had been prejudice on the order of “manifest injustice” since it was argued the guilty plea had not been tendered knowingly, intelligently, voluntarily, or understandably.

With over 20 years of experience in criminal defense, Attorney Bradburn immediately recognized that the Client had been given a false choice by the prosecution regarding his place of confinement, and this might be under the original plea offer since a sentence of incarceration that is less than two years in length must be served in a county jail.

Sound Legal Advice: When involved in a criminal case, you should always consult with an attorney who regularly practices criminal law to avoid a consequential mistake from being made.

Attorney Bradburn successfully argued that the Client’s decision to plead open was made under duress in that he wrongfully believed that his acceptance of the original plea offer might result in his being incarcerated in state prison when that could not have occurred under the law.

Result: After being allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas to all 361 counts, Client pled guilty to only 25 counts of Possession Of Child Pornography and received a sentence of 15 months to 30 months, plus a consecutive sentence of 10 years Probation, but was allowed to serve the sentence in the Centre County Correctional Facility. This resulted in a sentence that was three years and nine months to seven and one-half years less than the one that was originally imposed.