When is a search illegal in PA?

Q: I was pulled over. The cop said my plate was a motorcycle plate. I called 911 while being pulled over. Thus, the whole conversation was being recorded by 911. The dispatcher came back on with the right information for vehicle and plate. Cop put in a letter “o” instead of a number “0”. I tried telling this cop this. He kept screaming and yelling at me. He gave me back my license. I asked, am I going to get an apology? He snatched my phone and pulled me from my car. Placed handcuffs on me. Searched my car. Searched me and found a dime bag of weed on me. Never read me my rights. Impounded my car. He roughed me up. I don’t smoke. He planted this weed in my change pocket of my jeans. I am thinking about getting an attorney for violation of my civil rights. Yes, I’m black. They were white cops and very racist. (Pittsburgh, PA)

A: A search is illegal when the judge says it is and throws the evidence out. Although we all know race can be a factor with police, this officer probably would have done the same thing if you were Casper the Friendly Ghost. Your comment no doubt aggravated the situation, especially if he was not in a good mood to begin with. You might as well have told him he had no probable cause or made a statement about him smelling like pork or donuts. The first issue was if there was PC to seize your body and arrest you. He will likely say he had the right to arrest you because you were disorderly. The second issue is whether he had probable cause to reach in your pockets and pull the weed out. It is likely he will say you were under arrest first, and then he felt your pocket for a pat down and it felt like a baggie of weed under the plain feel doctrine. I predict he will offer you a plea deal to a summary Disorderly Conduct at the Preliminary Hearing if you do not have an attitude at the preliminary hearing. If you want to defend this, it will be tough and a long journey for you. You will need a lawyer willing to go on the ride with you. You need to discuss this with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

If you feel like this issue relates to you, or a problem that you are experiencing, please contact me so that we can discuss your situation.