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April 2015 Archives

What is a 'criminal use of a communications facility' charge?

If you've been charged with a crime under Pennsylvania law, you could face an additional charge if the crime you're accused of involved a computer, smartphone or tablet. The charge is called "criminal use of a communications facility," and a prosecutor can add it to any of a wide variety of criminal offenses, including:

Caught with pot? Protect your college financial aid eligibility

With state after state legalizing marijuana possession for at least some purposes, it can feel like partaking in a little weed isn't a big deal anymore. Even though Pennsylvania hasn't legalized pot for any purpose, possession of a small amount of marijuana -- defined as 30 grams, or just over an ounce -- is often charged as a misdemeanor with very limited penalties.

Medical marijuana bill moving forward in Pennsylvania Senate

The Medical Cannabis Act -- currently Senate Bill 3 -- is back in the news. The bill, which was co-sponsored by Delaware County Sen. Daylin Leach, represents a renewed attempt to legalize medical marijuana after last year's effort passed overwhelmingly in the Senate but died in the House.  While it unanimously passed out of one committee yesterday, Leach realizes that some House members are likely to have questions and concerns, so additional discussions or possible amendments may be needed.

Who decides whether consensual teen 'sexting' is a crime?

The behavior we call "sexting" burst into the news when cellphones became capable of sending picture messages. Sexually suggestive behavior between underage teens may be nothing new, but technology has thrust it onto a collision course with the law.

Ex-cop admits planted evidence, lies common at Philly drug unit

This week, six former officers from the Philadelphia Police Department's undercover drug unit are being tried on a 26-count federal racketeering indictment. The star witness is former unit member Jeffrey Walker, who pled guilty in 2013 and is now testifying for the prosecution. Walker's plea led to as many as 160 drug convictions being overturned. In addition, numerous civil rights lawsuits have been filed by people mistreated by the drug unit.

Do the Baltimore PD and the FBI have an agreement to break federal law?

On Wednesday, the Associated Press issued a blockbuster report on the use of high-tech surveillance techniques by local police departments -- Baltimore in particular -- and the degree to which the FBI is willing to sacrifice our constitutional rights in order to keep that surveillance secret.

Can Pennsylvania charge you with cyber-bullying another adult?

The Internet and social media have opened up many new options for getting in touch with people. Unfortunately, they've also made it easier for people to act -- sometimes anonymously -- without thinking things through.

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The Law Office of Joseph Lesniak, LLC

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