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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

The 5 Biggest Search-and-Seizure Myths

The 5 Biggest Search-and-Seizure Myths

Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court made the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule binding on the states in the 1961 decision in Mapp v. Ohio, thousands of published decisions from state and federal courts have applied the exclusionary rule to thousands of searches and seizures. It's no wonder the 50-year tidal wave of exclusionary decisions has left confusion and misunderstanding in its wake. Here are five areas of the law that seem to suffer the most in translation.

November 11, 2014

The 5 Biggest Miranda Myths

The 5 Biggest Miranda Myths

Some myths that have sprouted from Miranda have shown so much inertia that the Supreme Court has had to keep coming back to try to knock them down. Here are five of the most persistent.

October 28, 2014

Stop and Frisk?

Stop and Frisk?

Many people who use the term "stop and frisk" fail to realize that there actually is no such concept in the law, and that the phrase "stop and frisk" couples two constitutionally distinct activities that do not necessarily coincide. This misunderstanding is easily traced to the coincidence in Terry v. Ohio.

May 1, 2014

Reduce Negative Impact of Miranda

Reduce Negative Impact of Miranda

Has Miranda v. Arizona adversely affected criminal justice and public safety? Miranda has resulted in the inability to clear a quarter-million homicides, 1 million rapes, 5 million robberies, and 9 million aggravated assaults.

March 11, 2014

'Don't Talk To My Client!'

'Don't Talk To My Client!'

The Constitution does not forbid you to talk to a person just because that person has an attorney, or just because the attorney tells you not to do it. Instead, the law focuses on whether the suspect is willing to talk without his or her attorney present.

February 7, 2011

Understanding Probable Cause

Understanding Probable Cause

Probable cause is much less than proof "beyond a reasonable doubt," which the prosecutor must meet in order to convict a defendant. But PC is something more than the "reasonable suspicion" required to justify a temporary investigative detention.

May 18, 2010

Keeping up with Case Law

Keeping up with Case Law

Much of what I learned in basic academy in the late 1960s is no longer good law. If I were still operating on the basis of 40-year-old understandings, I wouldn't be very effective.

November 1, 2008

Courtroom Common Sense

Courtroom Common Sense

Testifying might be unfamiliar territory, but a few tips can make it less painful.

November 1, 2008

Topics of Conversation

Crooks often commit multiple crimes. When you make an arrest and get ready to begin interrogating, you will normally administer the four-part Miranda warning. But if you want to ask questions about more than one crime you think your suspect committed, do you have to inform him of all possible topics of discussion? The short answer is, "No."

May 1, 2008

The Bruton Rule

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.

March 1, 2008

Reflex Fire

Reflex Fire

It's not uncommon to hear or read about officer-involved shootings where multiple officers emptied their loads into the suspect and anything within 10 feet of him. Asked about why they opened fire, bystander officers may reply, "When another officer started shooting, I just reflexively started shooting, too."

October 1, 2007

The Lawful Use of Deception

It might be nice if law enforcement officers never had to lie to a criminal suspect in order to solve a crime. In fact, some police advisors do suggest to officers that they should never mislead a suspect. Unfortunately, the reality is otherwise.

January 1, 2007

30th Anniversary: High-Impact Decisions

Every U.S. Supreme Court decision on the criminal justice provisions of the Constitution (especially the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments) is important to law enforcement, but some have a more significant day-to-day impact on police work than others.

October 1, 2006

Residential Protective Sweeps

There's always a risk that when a Supreme Court decision discusses two or more major points, those points may get blurred. One familiar example is Terry v. Ohio, which is often cited as the opinion that gave us the "stop and frisk" rule.

November 1, 2005