Can I get charged for drugs found in a sealed plastic container in a non-warrant only visual search?

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Can I get charged for drugs found in a sealed plastic container in a non-warrant only visual search?

I was accused of trespassing. The landlord of the property allowed the police access who then did a visual search finding drug paraphernalia and drugs. However, they searched a plastic container and found scales and packaging material. So on top of the paraphernalia possession charge, I am being charged with felony manufacturing and distributing.

Asked on August 9, 2017 under Criminal Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If the scales and packaging material were visible in the plastic container, and/or the container was found in such position (e.g. with the paraphrenalia and drugs) so that it was reasonable to assume there was more drug-related material(s) in it and search it so as to make sure said materials were not lost or disposed of (so that the police could  legally have searched it), then the search was very likely legal and you could be charged based on the results. On the other hand, if the container was not even partially see through and was not near the drugs, so that it could not be searched as a logical part of that "stash," then the search of the container may have been illegal and the things found in it could potentially be excluded. It depends on the precise facts and circumstances; this is something to discuss with your public defender.


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