Criminal Justice

Posted: August 13th, 2013





Criminal Justice

In Florida v. Royer, the Florida Supreme court found that Royer’s rights in relation to the fourth amendment were violated. The court held that Royer was arrested without probable cause. According to Barry Latzer in States Constitutions and Criminal Justice, the exclusionary rule is not just a technical problem but also an essential constitutional right that must be upheld (p. 35). Royer’s rights were protected by the exclusionary rule of the fourth amendment, and his arrest was unlawful. Thus, no exception to the exclusionary rule should be granted. Consequently, his conviction was overturned. In Royer’s case, the exclusion rule was applicable. In People v. Quintero, the court held that the officers who arrested Quintero did not act in good faith, and the events did not sufficiently show support for probable cause. They thus held that the actions of the officers in the arrest were a violation of the exclusionary rule of the fourth amendment. The evidence thus obtained would be suppressed in a court of law. In this case, an exception to the exclusionary rule should be granted. The officers who arrested Quintero acted in good faith. According to William T. Pizzi, there should be an exception when officers purportedly act in good faith, in circumstances ridden with uncertainty such as that of Quintero (p. 44). The officers in this case acted in good faith.

Police officers usually erect roadblocks or check points for several reasons. Checkpoints can be used to check dangerous drivers, investigate narcotics and to get help from drivers on criminal drivers. Police stops have generated a lot of controversy. Pedestrian stops have been labeled racist. Drivers stopped at police checkpoints are protected by the fourth amendment and thus cannot be unreasonably arrested. In Michigan v. Sitz, the court found that the subjection of drivers to sobriety checkpoint was a violation of the fourth amendment that protects citizens from unreasonable searches. In Orr v. People, the court held that the checkpoints in Pecos did not cause any violation to the fourth amendment. The checkpoints were thus applicable as per the constitution. The fourth amendment prohibits unlawful seizure and searches. In the above two cases however, the checkpoints were meant to protect motorists from drunk drivers and should therefore have been exempted from this rule.

In Terry v. Ohio, the court ruled that law enforcement officers with reasonable suspicion that a crime was going to occur were empowered by law to conduct routine searches or questioning on suspects (Harr et al. 213). In Stone v. People, the court ruled that agent Mulnix had probable cause to arrest Stone and that he did not violate the fourth amendment. These two cases show that for law enforcers to carry out searches, they must have probable cause. This ensures no violation of the fourth amendment occurs. This case showed that officers were permitted to frisk, pat down or demand identification from people if they suspected their involvement in a crime.

In Whren v. United States, the defendant claimed that the officers had violated the fourth amendment by stopping them. Whren said that the officers who stopped them had no probable cause to suspect them. The court however upheld their convictions on the basis that the officers were carrying out a traffic check when they were arrested. According to the courts, traffic checks are not a contravention of the fourth amendment. According to Harr, Hess and Orthmann (p. 243), a pretext stop is acceptable under the law as long as there was probable cause. In the case of a traffic stop, there must be reason to believe that a traffic offence had been violated. Pretext cases are therefore prohibited according to the fourth amendment. In United States v. Sokolow, the court held that the officers who arrested and searched Sokolow at the airport had probable cause. His conduct made them suspect that he was carrying narcotics. Their decision was not based on race. Racial profiling is however prohibited according to the law and the fourth amendment.

In Colorado v. Jackson, the court of appeal ruled that the request by the officer for Jackson’s identification amounted to unreasonable seizure and thus was unconstitutional. In Jackson’s case, the officers did not have probable cause. They stopped the vehicle to demand identification details. Brendlin’s case, on the other hand, was different. The officers suspected that the vehicle was illegally on the road. According to the ruling in Brendlin, when an officer stops a vehicle, he intends to investigate the driver. The passenger is therefore protected in such instances by the fourth amendment. In Jackson however, the judges stated that request for identification by an officer does not constitute a violation of the fourth amendment.

Officer Porter’s appeal to the civil service commission enabled a fresh analysis of the case where the facts and evidence was freshly analyzed and previous decisions annulled. The appeal before the civil service uncovered anomalies in the case that were not identified in the court. In Landau’s tort case, the officers used unreasonable violence upon him and caused numerous injuries on his person. The officers then proceeded to file a case claiming that the plaintiff wanted to disarm an officer. In this Tort case, the jury examines several claims for relief by Landau that will form a case against the accused officers. In Jerome and Blatnik’s appeal filed under the Public Safety Review Commission to reverse a conviction of excessive force filed against them. The Public Safety Commission carried out investigations into the conduct of the officers. The officers defended themselves against the commission. They claimed that it was wrong for the commission to ask them to incriminate themselves according to the Fifth Amendment. The judges declared that the accused had the right not to answer the questions of the commission since the Fifth Amendment protected them. The Tort claim is the preferable mode since it provides for compensation and a deeper review of the case. The Powell/Blatnik case shows that the constitution protects officers and is more lenient in cases where they are found to be in the wrong. The Porter case on the other shows the inability of the constitution to prosecute errant police officers. There are many legal hurdles in the prosecution of officers.




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