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Consent Searches

Consent Searches

Warrantless searches are presumed to be unreasonable, but the U.S. Supreme Court has acknowledged that a warrantless search may still be reasonable under the Fourth Amendment if it falls within the guidelines of one or more of a limited number of exceptions.

February 5, 2013

Suspect-Initiated Interrogation

Suspect-Initiated Interrogation

Once a custodial suspect has been given Miranda warnings and has acknowledged his understanding, he might waive his rights and submit to questioning, or he might invoke—either by indicating that he doesn't want to talk, or by requesting counsel.

January 9, 2013

Entry to Secure

Entry to Secure

As previous "Point of Law" articles have discussed, there are four—and only four—legal justifications for entering private premises. For several reasons, the preferred authority for entry is a judicial warrant.

December 10, 2012

Expanded Definition of "Search"

Expanded Definition of "Search"

When the government, in an attempt to get information, "trespasses" on any of the items specifically listed in the Fourth Amendment ("persons, houses, papers and effects"), this constitutes a "search," whether or not there is any infringement of a suspect's legitimate expectation of privacy.

November 5, 2012

Publicity Can Be Costly

Publicity Can Be Costly

As private citizens, reporters are not bound by the Fourth Amendment. You are. Private citizens generally can't be sued for violating someone's Fourth Amendment rights. You can. Read on.

October 10, 2012

Lawyers and Miranda Warnings: Either/Or?

Lawyers and Miranda Warnings: Either/Or?

It sometimes happens that a suspect's lawyer offers to surrender him for arrest and agrees to let his or her client be questioned, provided the lawyer is present during the interrogation.

September 7, 2012

Immigration Checks

Immigration Checks

Under what circumstances is it permissible to inquire into a person's immigration status? The Supreme Court has addressed this question in several opinions, most recently in its 2012 decision reviewing Arizona's immigration statutes.

August 2, 2012

Innocent Behavior Can Be Suspicious

Innocent Behavior Can Be Suspicious

If you articulate circumstances that are suspicious, based on your training and experience, you should not be second-guessed by judges on the ground that the conduct you considered was just a combination of innocent acts.

July 10, 2012

Suggestive Eyewitness ID

Suggestive Eyewitness ID

Identifying the perpetrator and clearing innocent suspects are crucial goals of every criminal investigation, and both depend on the use of reliable evidence. The Supreme Court has applied a constitutional due process test to the admissibility of testimony about an eyewitness's pretrial ID.

May 9, 2012

Miranda: When Custody Isn't "Custody"

Miranda: When Custody Isn't "Custody"

Of the 55 subsequent Supreme Court opinions on Miranda issues, 14 have involved attempts to clarify the meaning of "custody," and in 12 of those 14, the Supreme Court reversed the decisions of state and federal appellate courts, which got it wrong.

April 4, 2012

New Restrictions on GPS Tracking

New Restrictions on GPS Tracking

Police use of technology to catch criminals makes the U.S. Supreme Court nervous, as was evident in the recent Jones decision. In the absence of a recognized basis for a warrantless search, Jones does mean that a warrant must be obtained for installation andmonitoring of a GPS tracker on a suspect's vehicle.

March 5, 2012

Drawing Lines Around Miranda

Drawing Lines Around Miranda

In November, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 54th decision on a Miranda issue, in a case called Bobby v. Dixon. This is the third decision on the issue of the admissibility of a suspect's statements obtained after a belated warning and waiver.

February 13, 2012

The Independent Source Doctrine

The Independent Source Doctrine

Although some searches and seizures may only be justifiable under a single approach, many can be justified several different ways. The U.S. Supreme Court has long held that when this is the case, any independent source of contested evidence will suffice, even when another does not.

January 12, 2012

Four Famous Cases

Four Famous Cases

The decade of the 1960s gave us four of the most significant cases that apply to our daily work: Mapp, Brady, Miranda, and Terry. These four are among the most prominent criminal law cases you should know more about to understand how we got to where we are.

December 2, 2011

Probable Cause and Reasonable Suspicion

Probable Cause and Reasonable Suspicion

Some actions you take have been classified by Supreme Court decisions as requiring that you articulate a "reasonable suspicion" in order to make them constitutionally reasonable, while others can be undertaken only if there is "probable cause" ("PC"). But what do these terms mean? And how do you match the right level of justification with the kind of conduct you're seeking to justify?

June 7, 2011

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