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

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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