Tag Archives: Civil Rights Defense Firm

Chief Counsel Joshua Prince and Attorney Adam Kraut Testify Before the PA House Judiciary Committee

Today, Chief Counsel Joshua Prince and Attorney Adam Kraut of the Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®), a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., jointly testified before the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee regarding a number of anti-Second Amendment and anti-Article 1, Section 21 proposals that were previously discussed during the 6 day hearings on “public safety.” As specified in Exhibit H to the Joint Testimony, there are significant constitutional issues with these proposals, under the U.S. and Pennsylvania Constitutions, and several of the proposals seek to discriminate against the Amish, as a result of their closely-held religious beliefs. Live streaming will be available at RonMarsico.com, and PAHouseGOP.com

Please join us in thanking Attorneys Prince and Kraut for the monumental amount of time expended in the researching and drafting of their joint testimony. As many have inquired about donating to support the time expended, anyone wishing to donate can:

  • Pay via the secure website: Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C. – Please place “House Judiciary Testimony” in the reference field, or
  • Mail donations to: Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., 646 Lenape Rd, Bechtelsville, PA 19505 and include a note or letter stating that it is in relation to House Judiciary Testimony”.

Together, we can ensure that our inalienable rights are never encroached upon!

 


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.

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Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

U.S. Supreme Court Finds That An Unauthorized Driver In Lawful Possession of Rental Car Has A Right To Privacy

On May 14, 2018, the United States Supreme Court held that people who borrow rental cars from friends are afforded the same protections against unlawful searches as the authorized driver. In the matter of Terrence Byrd v. United States, 2018 WL 2186175, the Supreme Court justices unanimously held “ the mere fact that a driver in lawful possession or control of a rental car is not listed on the rental agreement will not defeat his or her otherwise reasonable expectation of privacy”.

In September of 2014, Pennsylvania State Troopers pulled over a car driven by Terrence Byrd. Byrd was the only person in the rental car which had been rented by his fiancée, Latasha Reed in Wayne, New Jersey. Reed rented the car with Byrd present but failed to list Byrd as authorized driver on the rental agreement. The rental agreement specifically stated that “PERMITTING AN UNAUTHORIZED DRIVER TO OPERATE THE VEHICLE IS A VIOLATION OF THE RENTAL AGREEMENT.”

Shortly after Reed rented the car, Byrd returned with the car to his home in Patterson, New Jersey to get his belongings and later departed in the car alone for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After driving three hours, Byrd was stopped by Pennsylvania Troopers on Rt. 81, near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

The Troopers became suspicious of Byrd because he was driving with his hands at the “10 and 2” position on the steering wheel, sitting far back from the steering wheel, and driving a rental car. Based on these observations, the Troopers decided to follow Byrd and, a short time later, stopped him for a possible traffic infraction.

In the course of the traffic stop the troopers learned that the car was rented and that Byrd was not listed on the rental agreement as an authorized driver. The Troopers discovered that Byrd had identification under two different possible alias. The Troopers further discovered that Byrd had prior convictions for weapons and drug charges as well as an outstanding warrant for a probation violation in New Jersey. Byrd then revealed he had a “blunt” in the car and offered to retrieve it for them. The Troopers declined Byrd’s offer and continued to seek consent to search the car, though they stated they did not need consent because he was not listed on the rental agreement. The Troopers began a thorough search of the car and trunk. In the trunk, the Troopers found a laundry bag containing body armor and found 49 bricks of heroin.

The evidence was turned over to federal authorities, who charged Byrd with distribution and possession of heroin with the intent to distribute in violation of 21 U. S. C. §841(a)(1) and possession of body armor by a prohibited person in violation of 18 U. S. C. §931(a)(1). Byrd moved to suppress the evidence as the fruit of an unlawful search. The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania denied the motion, and the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed.

The Court of Appeals recognized that a “circuit split exists as to whether the sole occupant of a rental vehicle has a Fourth Amendment expectation of privacy when that occupant is not named in the rental agreement”; but it noted that Circuit precedent already had “spoken as to this issue . . . and determined such a person has no expectation of privacy and therefore no standing to challenge a search of the vehicle.”

In its Opinion, the Supreme Court recognized that one who owns and possesses a car, like one who owns and possesses a house, almost always has a reasonable expectation of privacy in it, but it is more difficult to define and delineate the legitimate expectations of privacy of others. The Court stated that a person does not always need to have a recognized common-law property interest in the place searched to be able to claim a reasonable expectation of privacy in it.

On the other hand, the Supreme Court also noted that legitimate presence on the premises of the place searched, standing alone, is not enough to accord a reasonable expectation of privacy, because it “creates too broad a gauge for measurement of Fourth Amendment rights.”

The Supreme Court explained that “[l]egitimation of expectations of privacy by law must have a source outside of the Fourth Amendment, either by reference to concepts of real or personal property law or to understandings that are recognized and permitted by society. The Supreme Court further noted that the two concepts in cases like Byrd’s case are often linked. “One of the main rights attaching to property is the right to exclude others,” and, in the main, “one who owns or lawfully possesses or controls property will in all likelihood have a legitimate expectation of privacy by virtue of the right to exclude.”

In rejecting the Government’s position that only authorized drivers of rental cars have expectations of privacy in those vehicles, the Court saw no reason why the expectation of privacy that comes from lawful possession and control and the attendant right to exclude would differ depending on whether the car in question is rented or privately owned by someone other than the person in current possession of it.

The central inquiry was whether Byrd had lawful possession of the car.  The Court reasoned that under some circumstances ‘wrongful’ presence at the scene of a search would not enable a defendant to object to the legality of the search. A car thief would not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a stolen car. However, Byrd was a permissive driver of the rental car and therefore, had the right to exclude others and a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remanded the case to further consider two of the Government’s arguments: that one who intention- ally uses a third party to procure a rental car by a fraudulent scheme for the purpose of committing a crime is no better situated than a car thief; and that probable cause justified the search in any event.

Attorneys arguing on behalf of Byrd argued that 115 million car rentals take place annually in the United States and if the government won, police would have an incentive to pull over a rental car driver who commits a traffic violation because police will know they can search the car if the driver isn’t on the rental agreement.

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Filed under Uncategorized, Constitutional Law

3rd Annual FICG/Shooters Gauntlet Next EVOLUTION Machine Gun Shoot!

We are proud to announce that Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG)® (FICG®) and Shooters Gauntlet, LLC will be hosting our 3rd annual Next EVOLUTION machinegun shoot at the Shooters Gauntlet on June 2-3, 2018, in celebration of the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and Article 1, Section 21 of the PA Constitution. During the first Annual Machinegun Shoot, with the assistance of our great friends at USA Chemical, we broke the world record with a 600 lbs binary explosion. Last year, there was a 20MM Oerlikon machine gun and two mini rail guns – one shooting a cyclic rate of 2500 RPM, the other 4000 RPM. And this year will be even BIGGER and includes a NIGHT SHOOT!

Located deep in the endless mountains of Pennsylvania (directions below), about 4 hours northwest of NYC, 3 hours north of Harrisburg, PA, in the town of Monroeton PA, 18832, our 3rd annual next evolution machinegun shoot will offer shooting experiences that are not available anywhere else! If you haven’t registered yet, you can do so here! The admission cost is drastically reduced for those registering in advance and you’ll receive updates and notices about special events, shooting experiences and local hotel deals.

The shooting experiences available include:

  1. Main machinegun range, approximately 200 yards long and 75 yards deep!;
  2. 1500 yards range and ability to rent a 50. caliber Barrett;
  3. Go off the grid in a 3 Gun Obstacle Assault Hike; and,
  4. Rent multiple machineguns and other, unique firearms!

Additionally, as ATF has already approved the event as a sanctioned event, there will be a gun show section for vendors to sell firearms and parts! All applicable local, state and federal laws apply, including applicable state tax regulations.

As Firearm Industry vendors, representatives and personalities register, we will post a new article specifying all of those who are set to attend! Last year, the vendors included (and we anticipate them attending this year!):

We also anticipate a number of raffles/giveaways like last year and will post about them as we approach the shoot.

As the sponsors of this event are extremely supportive of the youth-shooting experience, we worked tirelessly with NUMEROUS insurance carriers to obtain coverage for minors to be able to attend. Accordingly, minors will be permitted to attend the event, where those 14 years of age and older accompanied by a parent/guardian will be permitted to shoot, except for machineguns and canons. Those under 14 year of age, who are accompanied by a parent/guardian, will only be permitted to observe. Unfortunately, due to the requirements of the insurance carrier, all minors will have to produce a Government document (e.g. birth certificate, passport…etc) stating their date of birth.

Also, there will be food available onsite!

Accommodations: Special hotel accommodations have been negotiated, which you can find here.

Local Directions: The Shooters Gauntlet, LLC is located on Millstone Road, Monroeton, PA 18332. From the Towanda PA area:

At the intersection of route 220 and route 414, take route 414 west (route 414 begins here) for appx. 2.6 miles. Turn left onto Brocktown Rd. (sign here for RODS GARAGE) for  appx 0.2 miles to Weston Rd, turn right. Continue on Weston Rd. for 1.6 miles, and then turn left over bridge onto Millstone Rd. Follow Millstone Rd appx. 2.2 miles to intersection, turn left over bridge remaining on Millstone Rd. You will see the signs and receive direction from there

NOTE: For the Stone Mountain Machine Gun Event, follow signs for parking when on Millstone Road. There will be parking attendants to assist you. As for the events that take place during the Stone Mountain Machine Gun Event that require 4wd, all transportation to and from those events will be provided. Attendees will not be allowed to drive there own vehicles off road due to high traffic and time constraints.

If you haven’t registered, what are you waiting for?!?! Come on out, get your machinegun on and meet FICG® Chief Counsel and your PA Gun Attorney®, Joshua Prince, as well as, our other FICG® attorneys, while enjoying the rich seclusion that Shooters Gauntlet has to offer.

Brought to you by your PA Gun Attorney® and PA Firearms Lawyer®, as well as, the home of Armor Piercing Arguments®.

Be sure to share this event with your family, friends and anyone you know who loves guns!

 


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.

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Filed under Firearms Law, News & Events, Pennsylvania Firearms Law, Shoots

PA College towns are enforcing rental ordinances targeting student disruptive conduct.

As students return for the fall semester in many Pennsylvania universities and colleges, there are traditional welcome back parties. On campus, campus police regulates parties but off campus parties are less controlled and typically louder and wilder events. After several weekends of rowdy wild off campus parties which disturbed neighbors, led to underage drinking, fighting, arrests and saw a number of students taken to hospitals for alcohol consumption, the City of Bethlehem decided to enforce a city rental ordinance that had been on the books for almost twenty years but rarely used.

The city ordinance essential provides that a code enforcement officer may direct a landlord to evict a tenant if the tenant has been cited with three “disruptive conduct” violations within a year. The ordinance defines “disruptive conduct” as any form of conduct that is a violation of existing city ordinances and/or state law where the Police have issued a Citation and the Citation has been successfully prosecuted or a guilty plea entered before a District Justice.

The ordinance is clearly focused on controlling disruptive student behavior and is limited to regulated rental units occupied by three or more non-blood related persons, but no more than five, under the same lease agreement.

Under the ordinance, each lease agreement must include a provision notifying the tenants of the ordinance and the risk of eviction. Most lease agreements already have some provision requiring a tenant to obey all local and state ordinances but those provisions are general focused on the use of the premises in compliance with city zoning ordinances and not the conduct of the tenant.

Bethlehem’s ordinance is based on a similar ordinance from the City of Bloomsburg with was upheld by the U.S. District Courts for the Middle District Of Pennsylvania. In Bloomsburg Landlords Ass’n v. Town Of Bloomsburg, 912 F. Supp. 790 (M.D. Pa 1995), aff’d 96 F.3d 1431 (3rd Cir. 1996), the landlord association filed a complaint contending that the Bloomsburg Ordinance violated the state and federal constitutional rights of its members. The association alleged: 1) violation of their rights under Article I, Section 10(1) [Article I, Section 10(1) provides that no state shall make any law “impairing the obligation of contracts”] and the Fourth, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution under section 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 2) violation of their rights under Article 8, Section 1[All taxes shall be uniform, upon the same class of subjects, within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax, and shall be levied and collected under general laws] of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

In summary, the U.S. District Court held that: 1) the ordinance was not vague or overly broad; 2) the municipality may constitutionally regulate the number of unrelated individuals who may occupy a single family dwelling so long as as the ordinance was rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest, specifically, preventing disturbing conduct; 3) the ordinance was not a violation of the landlords’ substantive due process guarantees under the 5th and 14th amendment as it was rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest; 4) the ordinance was not a taking in violation of the 5th amendment as the ordinance substantially advances a legitimate state interests and does not deny an owner economically viable use of his land; and 5) that the licensing fee requirement of the ordinance was not a tax and not in violation of Pennsylvania’s constitutional prohibition against non-uniform taxes.

The U.S. District Court also rejected the argument that students were a protected class subject to protection from discrimination under the equal protection clause.

Other Pennsylvania cities and municipalities have similar rental ordinances, including State College, Reading, Kutztown, Allentown and Easton. In Easton, where Lafayette College is located, only two violations for disruptive behavior are required before a landlord is directed to evict the tenant.

Neighbors tired of the late noise and disruptive conduct appreciate the rental ordinances. At the same time, landlords who rent to students on a seasonal basis complain that the ordinances are punitive causing loss of revenues in mid lease.

The effectiveness of the ordinances is debatable. College students are not going to stop throwing parties. However, as long as the ordinances are rationally related to protecting the public and eliminating disruptive conduct, the ordinances will continue to be enforced in Pennsylvania.

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Filed under Landlord/Tenant

Strattanville Borough Declines To Move Forward With Firearm Discharge Ordinance

As our viewers are aware, we previously blogged about Strattanville Borough’s proposal to enact a firearm discharge ordinance, which resulted in Firearm Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®), a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., submitting a letter written in opposition on behalf of Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC) by Chief Counsel Joshua Prince.

Last night, Strattanville Borough voted, 5-2, not to move forward with the firearm discharge ordinance due to the legal ramifications and FOAC preparedness to institute legal proceedings against the Borough, if it moved forward with any form of firearm or ammunition regulation.

Please join us in congratulating FICG and FOAC in this accomplishment!

If you or someone you know has been the victim of an unlawful municipal firearm or ammunition regulation or ordinance, contact FICG today to discuss your options.


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.

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Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

FICG Files Comment in Opposition to ATF’s Proposed Changes to the 4473 Form

Today, Attorney Adam Kraut and Chief Counsel Joshua Prince of Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (“FICG®“), a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., filed a Comment in Opposition to numerous changes that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives proposed to the 4473 Form.

FICG® raised a plethora of issues, including that ATF is the incorrect federal administrative agency for determinations of prohibition under 18 U.S.C. 922(g), that ATF cannot redefine a “fugitive from justice” in these proceedings, and issues relating to the certification statement. FICG® also requested that ATF revise the 4473 Form, consistent with the ATF Form 1 and Form 4, whereby it would include fields for fictitious entities, instead of requiring FFLs to draft and attach a fictitious entity form as required by 27 C.F.R. 478.124(g), for which, ATF provides no sample form.

Cannabis Industry Law Group (“CILG”), a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., also filed a Comment in Opposition raising issue that 27 C.F.R. 478.11 already acknowledges that the use of physician prescribed controlled substances does not result in a prohibition, as well as that ATF is the incorrect federal administrative agency for determinations of prohibition under 18 U.S.C. 922(g). CILG’s stated purpose is to “protect, defend and assert the legal rights of businesses, professionals and individuals to operate lawful cannabis-related businesses and professions and to use cannabis medication without discrimination.”

It will be interesting to see how ATF responds to these and any other comments submitted.

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Filed under ATF, Firearms Law, News & Events