A blog of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section

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By Burt Rose

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In Com. v. Buchert, 2013 WL 1499347, 2013 PA Super 81, 329 EDA 2012 (4/12/13), the Superior Court reversed the grant of suppression by Judge Paula Patrick of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, Criminal Division CP–51–CR–0008730–2011. The Panel was composed of Judges BOWES, GANTMAN, and MUSMANNO. Judge Bowes wrote the Opinion.

The Commonwealth presented the following question on appeal: Where police officers conducted a valid traffic stop of a car in which defendant was a passenger and, as the officers approached the car, defendant bent forward and reached under the seat, then appeared very nervous, did the lower court err in suppressing the gun found under defendant’s seat during a protective search of the area within his immediate control?

The answer was yes. The combination of Appellee’s furtive movement of leaning forward and appearing to conceal something under his seat, along with his extreme nervousness and the night time stop, was sufficient to warrant a reasonable police officer to believe that his safety was in danger and that Appellee might gain immediate control of a weapon.

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