WHEN A POLICE MISTAKE LEADS TO CRIMINAL CHARGES
You have certain unalienable rights. That’s something every Texan learns in civics class. And even if you happened to miss that day, you likely know the words of the Miranda warning because of television. You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer police questions without an attorney present.
A right to be free of government intrusion is granted by the Constitution, as well. And while that right is not absolute, authorities are required to be careful when infringing on it. Overstepping the bounds happens more often than most people know. Sometimes it happens on purpose. Sometimes it occurs because officers are blind to crossing the line. Regardless, anyone facing criminal charges as a result needs strong legal advocacy in addressing the potential consequences.
What police can’t do
Under the Constitution and because of legal decisions over time, police cannot:
- Search without a warrant in a location where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, unless certain exceptions exist.
- Use evidence obtained by illegal search against you in court.
- Rely on evidence found separately, but directly resulting from, an illegal search.
- Submit an affidavit seeking a warrant if they know the claims in the document are untrue.
- Search your vehicle as part of a standard traffic stop, unless they have reasonable suspicion it might contain evidence of criminal action.
That last prohibition is one that deserves the special attention of readers. All you have to do is scan any day’s headlines and you are bound to find at least one instance in which a traffic violation resulted in police conducting a vehicle search, finding evidence and subsequently arresting a suspect on weapons, drug or other criminal charges.
You might not be aware when police cross the line, but police should and an experienced attorney will. That’s why it’s important to consult an experienced lawyer when issues arise.