What you should know about search and seizure
When the government obtains evidence against a defendant in violation of her/his constitutional rights, that evidence may be suppressed, and therefore not introduced at trial by the prosecution. This rule is derived from the US Constitution. The defendant in such a situation is entitled to a pretrial suppression hearing. At the hearing, the defendant will generally not testify, only the police officers will give testimony. A person is not generally entitled to a pretrial suppression hearing regarding admissibility of evidence. A hearing may be granted by the court after a showing by the defendant that a constitutional violation of a defendant’s search and seizure rights took place.
There are endless scenarios with regard to the application of the search and seizure analysis. The analysis is different and can change based on the smallest facts individual to your case. If you are charged with a crime, you must immediately seek the advice of an experienced attorney who works everyday to help people protect their rights to ensure the most favorable outcome possible in your case.
Among the types of evidence that a prosecutor may offer against a defendant at trial are tangible (such as drugs seized), observations of police officers, identifications by witnesses, and statements or confessions obtained from the defendant. Each of these may be subject to suppression if improperly obtained by the police. When evidence was arguably obtained in an unconstitutional manner, the defense recourse is to move to suppress. The object of the motion is to suppress the evidence (exclude its admission at trial). If the prosecution disputes the defense assertion, a suppression hearing is held.
There are four levels of permissible police intrusion, and each has it’s own requirement to determine whether the police intrusion is justified. Level I, is the least intrusive level, and is called a “request for information.” This level requires an objective and credible reason for the police to approach an individual that is not necessarily indicative of criminality. Questions permissible at this level include identity, address or destination.
A Level II inquiry is referred to as the “common law right of inquiry.” In order for the police to intrude at this level, founded suspicion that criminal activity is afoot is required. At this level, an officer is entitled to interfere with the citizen to the extent necessary to gain explanatory information, but may not forcibly seize the individual. This type of questioning would lead the person approached to reasonably believe that he or she is suspected of some wrongdoing and is the focus of the approaching officer’s investigation.
A Level III, detainment and frisk, requires the police to have reasonable suspicion that criminal activity has or will be committed. The police may forcibly pursue and/or stop and detain an individual, that is, significantly impede that person’s freedom of movement. Reasonable suspicion is defined as that amount of knowledge sufficient to cause an ordinarily prudent and cautious person to believe, under the circumstances, that criminal activity is at hand.
Lastly, a Level IV, warrantless arrest, is the highest level of police intrusion. This can only be done when there is “probable cause” to believe that the person has committed a crime, even if the crime was not committed in the officer’s presence.
If you should have any questions about a particular matter and your charges are in Onondaga, Oneida, Madison, or Jefferson County, don’t hesitate to call us at 315-701-2939 or find us on the web at bestsyracuselawyers.com for a free initial consultation. See related articles:
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