"The first duties of the officers of the law are to prevent, not to punish crime. It is not their duty to incite to and create crime for the sole purpose of prosecuting and punishing it." — U.S. Supreme Court, Sorrells v. U.S.
In your search warrant affidavits, your reports, and your testimony you have to lay out the basis of your suspicions and justify every detention, arrest, search, seizure, entry, and use of force.
Ever since the 1964 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Massiah v. U.S., it has been the rule that any statements about a crime that were deliberately elicited from the suspect by a government official or undercover agent, after the Sixth Amendment right to counsel had “attached” and been asserted, could not be used at trial to prove guilt.
You must act with considerable discipline and restraint when loudmouths try to demean and upset you with offensive language and gestures.
Evidence discovered during a search incident to an arrest supported by PC is not suppressible in the majority of state courts.
Just because a prosecutor declines to file or a grand jury declines to indict does not necessarily mean there has been a bad arrest. Proving guilt in a criminal trial requires the prosecutor to meet a much higher burden than the arresting officers, by proving the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
In many cases, two or more crooks commit crimes together. When you catch them, you'll generally do your best to get admissible confessions from them. Arresting multiple suspects can actually give you better chances to obtain statements.
There are four ways to make a lawful entry into a private home. Notice that "entry incident to outdoors arrest" is not on the list of lawful ways to get inside a residence. In three separate cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has held such entries to be unconstitutional.
How many times have you heard the expression "PC for the stop"? How about the application of Miranda once the suspect is "not free to leave?" These are common examples of improper mixing that can undercut the case against a guilty perpetrator.
Two of the basic questions you have when you write an investigative report are "What to put in?" and "What to leave out?" Although these are legitimate questions-because you normally couldn't possibly write down everything you know about a case-it's important to understand that certain things you might consider leaving out should actually be included.
One of the most troublesome legal issues in law enforcement is the question of when an officer may resume discussions with a suspect after some kind of Miranda "history" has occurred. The answer is, "It all depends."
On average, 60,000 officers are assaulted on the job every year. That's an average of 164 per day. The risk level you face on the job makes it important not only to resist complacency and to follow prudent tactics, but also to understand how to ensure that your interactions with suspects are constitutionally justifiable, so that you are never forced to choose between being safe and being sued.
In the 2007 decision in Brendlin v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court added yet another to a series of Fourth Amendment opinions on the subject of vehicle searches and seizures involving passengers, rather than drivers.
A search conducted under a valid search warrant can still violate the Fourth Amendment if it is conducted in an unreasonable manner. "It is incumbent upon the officer executing a search warrant to ensure the search is lawfully authorized and lawfully conducted." (Groh v. Ramirez)
Any officer who's been involved in a vehicle pursuit that resulted in property damage, bodily injury, or death should be concerned with at least three levels of liability. Departmental discipline may be imposed if the pursuit violates agency policy. Tort liability may be imposed through a lawsuit filed in state court. And plaintiffs may file a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking damages.
The U.S. Supreme Court has said that "Because many situations which confront officers in the course of executing their duties are more or less ambiguous, room must be allowed for some mistakes on their part. But the mistakes must be those of reasonable men, acting on facts leading sensibly to their conclusions of probability." (Brinegar v. U.S.)
If the court finds that the Constitution was violated by a vehicle impound, the existence of an authorizing statute or policy may not be enough to save you and your agency from civil liability and suppression of resulting evidence.
If a criminal exposes evidence in ways that can be detected by use of the personal senses, there is no Fourth Amendment “search” involved in discovering the presence of such items. Assuming no previous unlawful search, the seizure of the items is presumptively reasonable if there is probable cause to associate them with criminal activity.
In many instances, the suspect in a cold case turns out to be someone who is serving time for another crime. What are the considerations for conducting custodial interrogation of such a prisoner, insofar as Miranda and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel are concerned?
The requirement of the Fourth Amendment is that all searches be "reasonable." The Supreme Court has ruled that warrantless searches are presumed to be unreasonable, "subject only to a few specifically established and well-delineated exceptions."