Friday, April 26, 2013

What Happens When Police Break the Law?

The headlines lately have brought attention to an age old problem of what to do when police officers behave poorly, or break the law when they are investigating a case.  In West Valley City, Utah, many drug related criminal prosecutions were dismissed because the police misconduct in investigating the crimes resulted in the prosecutors stating "we no longer believe we have sufficient credible evidence with which to obtain a conviction."

When an investigating police officer knowingly, or inadvertently violates the law, it compromises the investigation and the case.  When evidence is gathered illegally, even if it proves that a person is guilty of committing a crime, it cannot be used in court.  This is called the exclusionary rule, and its intent is to motivate police officers to play by the rules, or have their efforts be wasted.

If you are charged with a crime, and believe that the police officers may have broken the rules relating to properly gather evidence, give me a call.  For example, if police search your house or car without a warrant or permission, any evidence gathered is illegal.  Likewise, if you have been arrested and are interviewed without having your Miranda rights read to you, any statement you made was gathered illegally.

When I review a client's case, the first thing I look for is whether the evidence was gathered legally.  If I believe the officers didn't follow the law, I file a Motion to Suppress the illegal evidence.  I have been successful in State and Federal Courts in litigating Suppression Motions, getting evidence thrown out, and having my client's cases dismissed.  Everyone should play by the rules, especially police officers, and when they don't, there are consequences.

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