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Recent Law Posts

The Supreme Court Rules Police Need Search Warrant To Search Cell Phones

In Riley v. California, a unanimous Supreme Court ruled that police need a search warrant to search cell phones and other electronic devices. Chief  Justice Robert noted that “ninety percent of Americans have them [cell phones]... and they contain a digital record of nearly every aspect of their lives — from the mundane to the intimate.”

Moreover, Justice Roberts wrote that “Even the word cellphone is a misnomer... they could just as easily be called cameras, video players, Rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps or newspapers.”

Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged that the High Court’s decision would make law enforcement more difficult, but reasoned that privacy comes at a cost.

A Federal Judge Rules Same-Sex Marriage Ban in PA is Unconstitutional

On May 20, 2014, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones ruled that Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. Judge Jones’ ruling has cleared the way for same-sex couples in Pennsylvania to get married.

Since the federal court struck down Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban, thousands of same-sex couples have married throughout Pennsylvania. Prior to Judge Jones’s ruling, Pennsylvania defined marriage as “a civil contract by which one man and one woman take each other for husband and wife”. Additionally, Pennsylvania unambiguously banned same-sex marriage: “it is hereby declared to be the strong and longstanding public policy of this Commonwealth that marriage shall be between one man and one woman.

A marriage between persons of the same sex which was entered into in another state or foreign jurisdiction, even if valid where entered into, shall be void in this Commonwealth”. In his opinion, Judge Jones expressed that “we are a better people than what these laws represent” and he drew comparisons between the civil rights movement and the modern gay marriage movement.

Furthermore, Judge Jones so eloquently opined that “it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.” In response to questions as to whether she planned to appeal Judge Jones’ ruling, Attorney General Kane expressed that she had no intentions on appealing the federal court’s decision to overturn Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban because the ban is unconstitutional.

Search Warrant No Longer Needed To Search Vehicle Rules PA Supreme Court

On April 29, 2014, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court departed from its longstanding precedence in Pennsylvania of requiring police officers to obtain a search warrant before searching citizens’ vehicles. In Commonwealth v. Gary, 29 A.3d 804 (Pa. 2014), our Supreme Court ruled that police officers only need probable cause to search a citizen’s vehicle, and no longer need to apply for a search warrant from a  judge before conducting a vehicle-search. Consequently, in the wake of Gary, police officers now have the authority to conduct warrantless searches of citizens’ vehicles based on the police officer's subjective judgment of whether probable cause to search the vehicle exist.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Ruled That Police No Longer Need A Warrant To Search A Citizen's Vehicle

Prior to the decision in Gary, Pennsylvania afforded its citizens greater protections under Article I, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution than what was afforded under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and required police officers to obtain a search warrant before searching a citizen’s vehicle, except for instances where the driver consented to a warrantless vehicle- search or exigent circumstances existed. Long before the decision handed down in Gary, the federal courts allowed warrantless searches of citizens’ vehicles as long as police officers had probable cause to conduct a search.

In Gary, Justice McCaffery opined that there is “no compelling reason to interpret Article I, Section 8 of the Pennsylvania Constitution as providing greater protection with regard to warrantless searches of motor vehicles than does the Fourth Amendment”. The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Gary has sparked criticism from civil rights activists and criminal defense lawyers who see the Court’s decision to allow police  to conduct warrantless searches of citizens’ vehicles as a major encroachment to privacy rights. On the other hand, law enforcement and prosecutors throughout Pennsylvania seems to view the Gary decision as a major victory.

It is worth noting that citizens still have the right to challenge the legality of a search of their vehicles in court. In instances where a court finds that a police officer lacked probable cause to conduct a warrantless vehicle-search, the evidence will be suppressed.

My Opinion

It is my belief that judicial oversight should be required  before police can  conduct a  search of a citien's vehicle to strike a balance between the competing interest of citizens to live in a free society and police officers’ interest in enforcing our laws. The Gary decision has definitely tipped the scales in favor of the government, and will lead to more abuses of citizens' privacy rights by law enforcement.

Why Should I Go with Roy Galloway?

There is certainly no lack of attorneys in the United States of America. We hear about new court cases every day in the media and in our personal lives. Attorneys are on television, both in fiction and nonfiction. So why in the vastness of all these choices should you go with the Law Offices of Roy Galloway? That's a good question, and we want to be as real as possible in our answer.

Legal Experience Matters

Roy Galloway has been practicing in family law and criminal defense for the past 7 years, and it's as much a passion as it is a job. While this may not stack up to the time some other attorneys in the area have accumulated, Roy certainly makes up for it with a youthful energy. Aggressiveness and knowledge go hand in hand with that energy, and it shows. We understand people live busy lives. There are always instances where child care issues arise, or perhaps people cannot get a day off of work. That's why we take the time to work around our client's schedules and make ourselves available when they are. We want to make the process as convenient for them as possible. Proper management of case load is one of the most important tasks for any successful attorney, and that's precisely why we give every case the proper time of day it deserves. This is a pivotal philosophy at the Law Office of Roy Galloway. Your file is not another number in our stack. You are an individual. We take the time to get to know each individual and their situation. We listen, and we work with them to develop a strategy that works specifically for their situation. No two cases are the same, thus no two cases should be handled the same way. Putting in the proper time for each case goes beyond what's sitting on your desk. We aim to respond to your calls and questions promptly, at least within a business day. You're also going to receive a call as soon as we find any new developments in your case. We're very proactive in our approach, so your case won't just be idling so long as we have a say in it. We also tend to file any complaints within the same business day to get your case moving as soon as we can.

We understand what you are going thru

So why should you go with the Law Office of Roy Galloway? Because we understand what you're going through and we'll make it our personal mission to help you through it. If you feel that we can be of assistance to you, don't hesitate to contact us.

What is the Adoption Process in Pennsylvania? (Part Two)

In our last post on the adoption process in Pennsylvania, we discussed how important the decision to adopt is for all involved. We also talked about the first step in the adoption process, which involved either voluntary relinquishment of a child, or involuntary termination of parental rights. In our second part, we'll be diving into adoption further to discuss who is eligible to adopt, who can be adopted, and what else needs to happen to go through with an adoption..

First the parents rights must be terminated

Adoptions cannot take place until parental rights have been terminated, either voluntarily or otherwise. This process will involve a court decision, and an adoption will typically be granted if a judge has decided to terminate a parent's rights. So once the rights have been terminated, who can adopt? The simple answer is anybody over the age of 18. There is a process which we'll get into later on, but any individual over 18 is eligible to adopt a child. Whether this be a young couple or a single prospective parent.

There is no age limit with adoption

Who can be adopted? Anyone can be adopted. It's not limited to children of a certain age. An adult can be adopted if the adopting parents so choose. The majority of adoptions tend to be of children aged one to two though. Now that we understand who can adopt and be adopted, let's talk about that process. Not just anyone who applies for an adoption is going to be approved to do so. There are a series of checks that must be done to ensure to the best of the court's ability that the child will be entering a healthy environment. Those checks are as follows:

  • Pennsylvania criminal history check
  • FBI background check
  • Department of Public Welfare child abuse clearance
  • Home study

The goals of the first three checks is to ensure the adopted child is not entering into an environment where there is a history of irresponsible actions or drug abuse. These checks will also make sure children are not being adopted into the homes of known sex offenders or people who would otherwise exploit the child. Anything from citizenship to driving records is combed through for this. In some cases, a home study may be involved as well. A home study would involve a representative coming out to the house to observe and report on the living conditions. They would look at things such as the financial situation, the home environment, the religious background, whether or not there are other children, whether or not there was past abuse, or if there had been drug use. They look into the family biography to dig up as much information as they can to make an educated decision on whether or not to approve the adoption. It should also be noted that open adoptions are a possibility. Open adoptions are a form of adoption where the biological families still retain certain rights with their children, despite their parental rights being terminated. The specific conditions of open adoptions can be defined at the time of adoption. Some families opt to only allow mail and/or photo correspondence, while others may be more open to having personal visitation as an option.

Adoption cases are a happy occasion and we love handling adoption cases

We love handling adoptions at the Law Office of Roy Galloway because adoptions are often a very happy occasion. In most cases, a loving home is opening their world and expanding their family to a child who otherwise had no family. Perhaps their parents had passed away or they were previously living in abusive circumstances. We have certainly seen both sides though, and have dealt with cases where parental rights or grandparent rights were terminated due to neglect or because the parents were incapacitated due to mental or physical illness. It can be tough, and we understand. If you're thinking of going through an adoption at this time, we'd be happy to hold your hand through the whole process. Don't hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of Roy Galloway to ask how we can help you.

What is the Adoption Process in Pennsylvania? (Part One)

Adoption can be an important milestone in a family's life, and it's one of our favorite cases to handle. Adoptions can bring joy not only to the prospective parents, but to the child as well. It can be a complicated process though, and certainly an expensive one. This alone can scare a lot of people away from going through with an adoption. We're here with this two part series to explain the process and give you some insight into what an adoption entails.

Adopting a child is like giving birth without all of those medical bills. An adopted child has all the rights of a biological child. You have obligations to them as they grow, and they are entitled to inheritance. Most importantly though, adoptions are final. Once you sign the paperwork, there is no difference between that child and one you birthed yourself. It's a huge step, and you're helping a bigger cause by adopting a child. In the United States, there are 397,122 children currently living without permanent families. Roughly a quarter of these children are eligible for adoption. In 2012, however, U.S. Families adopted just over 7,000 children. In the same year, 23,396 youth aged out of the foster care system. There simply isn't enough demand to meet the supply. If you're interested in finding out more about these statistics, you can visit the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute's website.

Now that we've gotten through the why, let's get into the how. There are three main ways in which a child can be adopted:

  • Voluntary relinquishment to an agency
  • Voluntary relinquishment to another party
  • Involuntary termination of parental rights

Voluntary relinquishment to an agency is when the biological parents give their child over to an adoption agency for the agency to take over the adoption process. Children placed in an adoption agency may go on into the foster care system and join those statistics we discussed above. Voluntary relinquishment to another party occurs when the biological parents and another party come together to agree to an adoption with a court's approval. The biological parents will sign consent to the adoption and the adoption process will begin. This could occur between family members or even neighbors. Involuntary termination of parental rights occurs when parents do not consent to their parental rights being revoked. The adopting party in this case needs to prove that the parents are unfit, incapacitated, or has otherwise abandoned their parental duties. This can occur due to a variety of circumstances. Perhaps drugs are involved, creating unsuitable living conditions. Perhaps income disbursement is an issue, the children aren't being fed, or children are being outright abused. If a parent has simply abandoned their children for more than six months, it is also grounds for involuntary termination.

The ultimate goal is to give the adopted child a better life

The end goal of any adoption is to give the adopted child a better life than they would have had otherwise. Strong role models and supportive family members are key to the mental health of a growing child. What we've covered in this post, however, is just the first step in adopting a child. If you'd like to know more, be sure to read part two of the adoption process explained! If you're thinking about adoption, we'd be happy to hold your hand every step of the way. Just reach out to the Law Office of Roy Galloway to discuss how we can help.

How Do I Defend Against a Drug Trafficking Case?

With several states beginning to introduce laws legalizing marijuana, it's important to know what Pennsylvania's policies on the matter are regarding the matter. If you're ever traveling through, know that you are subject to the laws of the state you are in rather than your home state. Pennsylvania takes drugs very seriously, and if you're not careful, you may find yourself in much deeper trouble than you ever expected to be in, and be in need of a drug crime attorney.

Your options when you are charged with a drug offense

We're here to discuss what your options are if you've found yourself in trouble with the law regarding drugs. Keep in mind that sometimes a complete pardon from drug offenses is improbable, but a skilled attorney can get your sentence significantly reduced. Read on to find out how.

We start with the initial collection of evidence

The starting point of any drug case goes into the initial collection of evidence. The constitution affords rights that local police cannot override. The fourth amendment protects citizens against unreasonable search and seizures, and specifically requires warrants to be approved by a judge and supported by probable cause. The Pennsylvania constitution provides even greater protection than the federal counterpart. We take a look into the circumstances. Supposing the police stopped you, was their reason for doing so justified? Was the search not supported by reasonable suspicion? If the cop's seizure was not supported by his observation of criminal activity, we've had success in suppressing the drugs from entering into evidence. At that point, there is rarely a case to continue on.

What if we can not suppress the drugs as evidence?

This is certainly the ideal way the proceedings would go, but there are always situations where everyone involved had done their job well and there are no grounds to suppress the drugs. What happens then is we begin to take a look into your behavior and what the police found on you. It's in these circumstances where we are no longer looking at keeping you out of jail, but rather limiting your time. Our intention at this point is to prove that your intent in having the drugs was not to distribute, but rather to use them. There is a huge difference with respect to sentencing between the two cases. It's an ungraded misdemeanor to possess the drugs for personal use, with penalties up to a year. Possession with intent to deliver carries a hefty maximum of 15 years and is a felony. A felony conviction will not only put you away for a long time, but it will haunt you for the rest of your life. Many jobs will see this in a background check and pass right over you. So it's in situations where a party's rights have not been trampled upon that we seek to avoid the distribution charge and prove the drugs were intended for personal use.

Personal use versus intent to deliver

What can determine whether or not the drugs were intended for personal use? Well there are a couple things we can look at. First off, a good indicator is whether or not the individual was under the influence of the drug when they were arrested. The amount of drugs is another good indicator. One or two baggies is more indicative of personal use, where 10 baggies could show the intent to deliver. Large amounts of cash on a person can show the intent to deliver. The possession of use paraphernalia is another good indicator of personal use. It should also be worth noting that Pennsylvania recently passed a law to fall more in line with national standards regarding the searching of a vehicle. Prior to this law, Pennsylvania police were required to obtain a warrant to search an occupied vehicle if they had reasonable suspicion. Now, however, reasonable suspicion is enough to justify the search of an inhabited vehicle. This ruling also deems the possession of hidden compartments in a car as a felony, showing intent to deliver. There are many factors that we can use to our advantage to try to prove distribution was not the goal, and it's important to have an attorney who has a comprehensive understanding of your rights. If you find yourself in trouble with the law regarding drugs, don't hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of Roy Galloway.

What is the Divorce Process in Pennsylvania? (Part Two)

In part one of our discussion on divorce in Pennsylvania we covered a lot of topics regarding how to file for divorce and what claims, custodial and economic, are handled in the proceedings. In part two, we're going to discuss what the difference is between a fault based divorce and a no fault divorce is and which one you should file when going through the divorce.

Let's jump right in with what a fault based divorce is.

A fault based divorce involves court hearings in which parties will raise proof to determine who is at fault for the dissolution of the marriage. The grounds for this could be if one party simply left the other, one party was cruel emotionally or physically, or if one party had betrayed the commitment by performing adultery. Prior to the 1960's, fault had to be determined in order to proceed with a divorce.

What is a no fault divorce?

A no fault divorce, in contrast, does not require validation of fault by either spouse. This type of divorce instead takes the act of applying for the divorce as means of proof of something having gone wrong in the marriage. No fault divorce can be applied for by either party individually or both together. Courts may still look into each spouse's behavior and actions in determining the economic claims in a no fault divorce. So what is the difference between them besides a fault based divorce declaring someone is at fault? Time and money. A fault based divorce will involve more time in court and more attorney expenses. It will create headaches and it will create undue stress. It might leave you with the satisfaction of saying the other party was the cause of the breakdown. Otherwise, a fault based divorce has zero effect on the rest of the proceedings, including custody and economic claims.

It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that we suggest applying for a no fault divorce.

There are two provisions you can apply for a no fault divorce under: Mutual Consent and Irretrievable Breakdown in Marriage. Mutual Consent is a process in which both parties agree to the divorce. Under this provision, one party would file for divorce and serve the other party. After 90 days have passed, both parties would be able to sign papers to make the divorce final. The caveat to this is if both parties do not agree to the divorce, it cannot take place under the Mutual Consent provision. In cases where one party does not agree, we have an alternative if we can show there is an Irretrievable Breakdown in Marriage. In this case, after two years of separation, you no longer need both party's consent to obtain a divorce. This can take significantly longer since the parties have to have been separated for two years first, and it can be a point of contention between parties as one may believe the split happened earlier than the other. When helping our clients through divorce, we file under both no fault provisions. This way if the other party comes back and rejects the divorce, we can still proceed assuming two years have passed since the initial separation. We hope this information on the divorce process in Pennsylvania has been helpful for you, and urge you to reach out to an experienced divorce attorney should you be proceeding with a divorce yourself.

What is the Divorce Process in Pennsylvania? (Part One)

Divorce is a common topic in a lawyer's world. We'd all like to believe that we've found “The One” and live happily ever after, but sometimes things just don't work out. Sometimes you just have to be able to know when to call it quits for the sake of all of those involved. We understand how stressful and heavy of a decision it can be, and we're here to help every step of the way. We'll take some time in this two part post to dive into the world of divorce in Pennsylvania to help you understand what all it entails.

Divorce will have a dramatic effect on your life

To start, you should know that divorce is going to dramatically affect many parts of your life. The legal process of divorce will typically involve child custody and visitation, distribution of property, alimony, and division of debt. It can dramatically affect your credit and your taxes. It is stressful, and it will affect your home and work life. Knowing this going in, prepare yourself mentally. The first thing you need to understand about divorce in Pennsylvania is that one of the two spouses need to have lived in the state for at least 6 months prior to the filing. In most cases, this shouldn't be an issue, but it is something to be mindful of if you've just moved to the state within the past 6 months. The divorce process is initiated by filing a complaint. This complaint should be filed in one of the counties in which the parties reside.

Discuss the situation with your children

Children are among those most deeply affected by divorce. You should take the time to help them understand why it is happening and let them know it is absolutely not their fault. As for the legal side of things, it is wise to discuss custody agreements during the divorce process. It's at this time you can set up who has custody when, and if child support payments need to be instituted. Sometimes both parties can come to an agreement right then, which is the ideal situation. If an agreement cannot be reached, filing for custody at this point in time will save you money in the long run since you won't have to hire an attorney for two separate cases. There are several economic claims that can be brought up during the divorce process in Pennsylvania that you should be aware of:

  • Equitable division of property
  • Alimony
  • Alimony Pendente Lite
  • Counsel fees
  • Expenses

Let's explain what each of these are to give you a better understanding of what you and your attorney will be dealing with.

Equitable division of property

Equitable division of property refers to the process in which a judic al agreement is formed to divide the rights to the jointly owned property of both parties. Courts consider each spouse's contributions to the accumulation of the property, as well as the needs of each party, in order to reach a decision on this.

About alimony payments

Alimony refers to financial support given to a former spouse after the divorce is completed. Alimony is separate from child support payments, which are instituted when discussing custody of any children.

Alimony Pendente Lite

Alimony Pendente Lite is similar in that it is financial support given from one spouse to another during the divorce proceedings rather than afterward. It should be noted that alimony payments are considered taxable income for the party receiving the payments, and can be deducted from the gross income of the party making the payments.

Counsel fees

Counsel fees refers to the cost of the attorneys handling the case and the various other legal fees involved. Sometimes an agreement will be made for one party to cover all the fees involved for both spouses.


Expenses refers to the cost of things such as rent, property taxes, mortgage payments, credit card bills, etc. The economic claims in a divorce often consume the bulk of the proceedings in such magnitude that the divorce will not be finalized until the economic claims are resolved. If parties are still trying to figure out how to divide up retirement income, what to do with the marital home, or who gets what money out of bank accounts, the divorce can be significantly delayed. There is an exception to this though. An attorney can file to bifurcate the divorce from the economic claims. This allows the courts to finalize the divorce while maintaining jurisdiction to resolve the economic claims. If you're going through a divorce, it's wise to have an experienced and proven attorney on your side. At the Law Office of Roy Galloway, we want to make the process as easy as possible while getting you the most we can. Be sure to read part two to gain a better understanding of the divorce process in Pennsylvania.

What Are the Self Defense Laws in Pennsylvania?

Self defense is a touchy subject in today's society. Our school systems today institute a 'zero tolerance' policy where fights between children result in punishment of everyone involved. If schools are that strict, what must the laws on the matter be like? We're taking the time today to dive into this subject to explain exactly what self defense entails and what your rights are regarding the matter.

Let's start by defining what self defense is. Dictionary.com holds three similar definitions:

  1.  The act of defending one's person when physically attacked, as by countering blows or overcoming an assailant.
  2.  A claim or plea that the use of force or injuring or killing another was necessary in defending one's own person from physical attack.
  3. An act or instance of defending or protecting one's own interests, property, ideas, etc., as by argument or strategy.

Plainly put, self defense is an act taken to protect yourself should someone attack you. There are some intricacies to this that we'll get into, but know up front that in cases of self defense, the burden of proof is not on you. This was not always the case. Up until recently Pennsylvania had what is referred to as a Duty to Retreat. This meant that in a situation where you were put in harms way by another individual, you had to have taken reasonable steps to avoid conflict prior to using force. In theory, this would have cut back on situations where self defense was needed in the first place, but many states are beginning to see that it instead puts undue duress on the victim in cases of self defense.

Pennsylvania Law That is similar to the “Stand Your Ground” Law

Pennsylvania now has laws in place that more closely reflect Florida's “Stand Your Ground” law. Defendants in self defense cases no longer have the burden of proof on their shoulder's, but rather the prosecution has to show that the defendant did not act in self defense. This grants further protection to individuals who are attacked and take potentially deadly measures against their assailants. This does not mean, however, that you can take deadly measure against just anyone who might assault you. The force you use has to be commensurate with the force you are threatened with. If someone attacks you with their fists for example, you are not permitted to counter with a deadly weapon, but you could counter with your fists. If someone were to attack you with a knife, deadly force could be acceptable. It's all about reacting in a way in which a reasonable person should react. This could potentially lead to actions made on a mistaken belief. Suppose it's dark out and somebody is coming at you with what you believe to be a knife in their hand and you fire upon them. You later find that they were throwing a punch with their cell phone in their hand. A cell phone is not commensurate with a gun, but in the moment, you believed your life was in peril. In cases such as this, a jury is called upon to put themselves in your shoes in the exact moment and discuss how a reasonable person would react. They are prohibited from using hindsight in the matter. Now surely this only applies if you're not the instigator in an altercation, right? Not so! Let's say you get in a heated discussion and in the moment you decide “Let's throw down! Right here, right now!” and you're unlucky enough that your counterpart wants to oblige. If you take measures to back out of the altercation at that point and show you don't wish to fight, you are allowed to defend yourself afterward, similar to the original duty to retreat.

The  “Castle Doctrine"

Building on these laws, Pennsylvania has instituted what is known as the “Castle Doctrine.” The Castle Doctrine states that it is assumed deadly force is reasonable in three specific cases:

  • If someone is in the process of unlawfully entering your home, work, or occupied vehicle.
  • If someone has unlawfully entered your home, work, or occupied vehicle.
  • If someone tries to unlawfully remove you from your home, work, or occupied vehicle.

If you are indicted in a case in which you've taken deadly force upon someone in these scenarios, the law protects you as the Castle Doctrine presumes that deadly force was necessary. This places a huge burden on the prosecution to prove that your actions were unreasonable given the circumstances. When the law itself is stating the use of deadly force is reasonable, however, it makes it almost impossible to prove the contrary. If you find yourself charged with a violent offense, it's important to have a lawyer who knows and understands all there is to know about self defense laws. The right lawyer can mean the difference between years in prison and an acquittal. Contact the Law Office of Roy Galloway to have an aggressive and experienced attorney on your side.


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