Jul 22

Commonwealth v. J.R.

Commonwealth v. J.R.


J.R., who was on state parole, went in to the parole officer to meet with an agent. During the meeting, the parole officer took J.R.’s phone and searched it. On the phone, the officer observed photographs of large amounts of cash, and one photograph of a gun. Based on these observations, parole agents decided to search a residence that allegedly belonged to J.R. Once inside, agents observed narcotics and a firearm in plain view. The agents then contacted Philadelphia police narcotics officers who obtained a search warrant and searched the entire property. During that search, in a bedroom, police found large amounts of cash, heroin, crack cocaine, marijuana, packaging material, a firearm and letters and identification in J.R.’s name. As a result, J.R. was arrested for drug charges, firearm offenses, and violating his parole. The defense filed a motion to suppress all evidence recovered. Specifically, the defense argued that because the first photograph observed on J.R.’s phone was a large amount of cash, that alone did not establish a parole violation or a reasonable belief that J.R. was in possession of contraband. Therefore, the further search in the photo album of J.R.s phone was a search without any reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Thus, the viewing of the photo of the gun was illegal and counters this Philadelphia gun offense, which tainted the search of his residence. Therefore, all drugs and firearms recovered in the house were fruits of the poisonous tree (the illegal search of the phone). After hearing argument, a judge granted the motion to suppress evidence. As a result, the prosecutor indicated that all charges against J.R. will be withdrawn.

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