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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

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

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

Mistake of Law: To Err Is Human

Mistake of Law: To Err Is Human

In a series of cases, the court has upheld searches and seizures made by officers who were mistaken in their understanding of the facts they confronted, or as to the law to be applied.

February 27, 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

Why You Should Double Check for Accuracy

Why You Should Double Check for Accuracy

Although law enforcement officers are given considerable leeway for reasonable mistakes, you don't get much slack for unreasonable mistakes that result from hasty reactions to bad information that comes from your own official sources.

August 8, 2014

Cell Phone Search Incident to Arrest

Cell Phone Search Incident to Arrest

Just when it looks like a rule is finally refined to the point of general understanding, the Supreme Court takes an unexpected turn, as it recently did on the subject of searching an arrestee's cell phone incident to his arrest.

July 11, 2014

Video and You

Video and You

If you aren't speaking and behaving at all times in public the way you want to appear when you're uploaded on YouTube, you could have some unpleasant surprises in store.

October 2, 2013

When Silence is Golden

When Silence is Golden

Whenever you see or hear a suspect doing or saying something an innocent person would not, your observations should go into your reports. The suspect's selective silence can sometimes indicate a consciousness of guilt.

September 2, 2013

Open Wide and Say, "Ahhh"

Open Wide and Say, "Ahhh"

Under what circumstances would the Fourth Amendment allow routine collection of DNA samples upon arrest and booking? A recent Supreme Court decision addressed this issue.

August 5, 2013

When Miranda Doesn't Matter

When Miranda Doesn't Matter

Miranda warnings should not be given when they aren't legally necessary such as when information is urgently needed to protect the safety of officers or the public, or to rescue a victim.

July 2, 2013

Forced Blood From Impaired Drivers

Forced Blood From Impaired Drivers

The Supreme Court has made it more difficult for law enforcement officers to obtain the most probative evidence of impaired driving—a measure of the alcohol concentration in a sample of the suspect's blood.

June 7, 2013

Dogs, Drugs, and the Fourth Amendment

Dogs, Drugs, and the Fourth Amendment

Two cases from Florida have brought the U.S. Supreme Court to two different conclusions regarding K-9 searches in 2013. One is an affirmation of existing practice, but the other breaks new ground and imposes new limits.

May 3, 2013

Search Warrant Detentions

Search Warrant Detentions

When you make a search of premises under authority of a search warrant, it is generally permissible to detain the occupants pending completion of the search. The authority to do so, and the rationale supporting detention, were limited by a 2013 decision.

April 30, 2013

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