If you have been charged with a crime, you could be facing some pretty unpleasant penalties. That is why having an experienced and aggressive local criminal defense attorney working on your behalf is so essential. At Boertje & Associates, our defense attorneys are committed to working diligently for clients, starting with taking a look at potential errors made by law enforcement. There are plenty of places where deviations from protocol and legal procedure could lead to a boost in your defense. Just a few include the following:
Improper Stop, Search, or Seizure
Police cannot just stop and search anyone they would like based on your race, suspicious clothing, or other “gut feelings” without following certain rules:
- They have to have a reasonable suspicion that you have been involved in criminal activity in order to stop you in the first place;
- A search or arrest cannot legally occur without probable cause, a warrant (which requires probable cause to obtain), or your consent.
More About Search Warrants
Police seek warrants from judges or magistrates based on probable cause that they will find evidence of criminal activity. They have to submit their request with fairly specific details as to what they expect to find and then can seize only items related to the suspected activity in question. For example, vehicles discovered in a garage might be seized if the warrant relates to stolen cars. If during the search cocaine is found, it can only be seized if it was found during a reasonable search for the vehicles listed in the warrant. In other words, if the cocaine was found in plain view on a counter in the garage during the search for stolen cars, it’s fair game. If it is found, however, in a jewelry box in the bedroom, it is not because a search for a stolen car would not reasonably include looking in a bedroom jewelry box.
Failing to Secure a Crime Scene
When police neglect to properly secure a crime scene, it opens any findings up to real questions. Was there tampering with any evidence? Did evidence become smudged or damaged inadvertently? Did items enter the scene that were not there originally
Neglecting Chain of Custody Requirements
When evidence is collected, it must be carefully secured, stored, and documented in order to ensure the integrity of the material. Failure to adhere to the chain of custody with care could result in a judge’s ruling that the evidence must be excluded. Continue reading