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Overlooked Legal Nuggets

Overlooked Legal Nuggets

From time to time, we get a really helpful decision that can make our jobs easier, and yet few people seem to learn about it or realize its significance. Here are 10 such decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court.

May 4, 2016

Arrest Warrants

Arrest Warrants

Many arrests are made without a warrant, of course. However, where the circumstances permit, "Law enforcement officers may find it wise to seek arrest warrants where practicable to do so." (U.S. v. Watson)

April 6, 2016

Serving the Search Warrant

Serving the Search Warrant

Having a warrant does not guarantee that your actions will always be upheld. Every officer participating in the execution of a search warrant should be familiar with the following guidelines.

March 2, 2016

Consensual Encounters

Consensual Encounters

The well-trained, self-disciplined, smart law enforcement officer first tries a consensual encounter, before resorting to a detention that may or may not win judicial approval.

February 5, 2016

Under the Microscope After an OIS

Under the Microscope After an OIS

If, God forbid, you have to shoot someone on the job, here are some possible consequences you may find yourself enduring for the next several years, even though you may have been completely justified in your use of deadly force.

January 7, 2016

Self-Inflicted Wounds

Self-Inflicted Wounds

There are times when "tactical language" may be the only thing some suspects respond to. But that doesn't mean profanity should be your default method of communicating with everyone with whom you come in contact.

December 3, 2015

Reasonable Force

Reasonable Force

In the age of ubiquitous video and mushrooming oversight, how can you ensure that your use of force does not bring unwanted discredit upon you, your department, and the entire profession? The same as always: Know the law, and comply with it.

November 3, 2015

Flight and the Fourth Amendment

Flight and the Fourth Amendment

Sometimes, people run when they see you coming. May you chase them? If you do, does that amount to a "show of authority" constituting a detention, requiring reasonable suspicion?

October 7, 2015

Reasonable Suspicion

Reasonable Suspicion

In some cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that particular searches and seizures need only "reasonable suspicion" to be constitutional—not the higher justification level of probable cause. What's the difference, and when is reasonable suspicion sufficient?

September 2, 2015

Hotel/Motel Registry Checks

Hotel/Motel Registry Checks

A supreme court decision might have the adverse effect of making it easier for motels conspiring with criminals to thwart police investigations. 

August 21, 2015

Entries and Civil Liability

Entries and Civil Liability

Fortunately, the Supreme Court recently overturned two federal court rulings that had exposed officers to potential liability in cases involving warrantless entries.

July 7, 2015

Unlawfully Prolonged Traffic Stop

Unlawfully Prolonged Traffic Stop

Is it OK under the Fourth Amendment to turn a traffic stop into a criminal investigation? Of course it is, provided the justification for the additional investigation is developed during the reasonable duration of the traffic stop—not after.

June 18, 2015

Admonitions and Waivers

Admonitions and Waivers

Most of your communications with criminal suspects are "unscripted" dialogue. But in certain situations it can be very important that you say the right words, at the right time, to avoid creating problems for yourself, your agency, and your prosecutor.

May 4, 2015

Search Warrant Basics

Search Warrant Basics

There are good reasons why officers need to become more comfortable with writing search warrant applications, and to delay non-emergency searches until warrants can be obtained.

April 28, 2015

Getting Your Case Filed

Getting Your Case Filed

Although the prosecutor's decision to decline to pursue a prosecution could be for a variety of reasons, there are steps you can take to ensure that a rejection is not based on your police work on the case.

March 5, 2015