4 Police Mistakes that Could Get Your Charges DismissedJun 26 2021, by Criminal Defense in
Believe it or not, law enforcement can make mistakes in the field just like anyone else. Errors made during your arrest may result in the exclusion of the evidence found. But it takes an experienced criminal defense attorney to identify these mistakes and help get your case dismissed.
1. Lack of Reasonable Suspicion
Police must have reasonable suspicion for suspecting criminal activity before detaining someone or pulling a car over. When there is a lack of reasonable suspicion, a criminal defense attorney can challenge the arrest. Furthermore, all related evidence can be suppressed by the judge.
For instance, if an officer is aggressively pulling over cars without reasonable suspicion, the evidence obtained from drunk driving, possession of drugs, or weapons can’t be used. As you can see, an officer can spoil a trial if they do not have the presence of mind to have grounds for your arrest in the first place.
Although this is a reasonable standard to meet, some officers still manage to make this mistake.
2. Lack of Probable Cause for Arrest
Probable cause or objective circumstances leading an officer to believe you committed a crime must exist before an officer legally arrests you. Without sufficient evidence, the arrest can be challenged, and the defendant released.
The officer needs more than a suspicion that you committed a crime, but less than what can prove the suspect guilty beyond a reasonable doubt – the standard for a conviction.
Because of this standard, arrests happen all the time. However, just because you are arrested does not mean there is enough proof to be convicted. Often a prosecutor may withdraw charges if there is not enough proof to convict the defendant.
3. Unlawfully Obtained Evidence
Evidence found during an illegal search is excluded from use. Law enforcement must have a search warrant or special circumstances to search someone or their property.
If law enforcement conducts a search without a warrant and no special circumstances, all found evidence is suppressed. Suppose an officer searches your car after you had already refused them to do so, and a warrant was not present. In this case, the evidence cannot be used.
4. Mishandled Evidence
Evidence can be mishandled, and records show the proper care and tracking of evidence. Evidence must be tracked and documented from the time police seize it to its use at trial. This process refers to the “chain of custody”. If this chain is broken in any way, the evidence loses credibility. Mishandled evidence results from tampering or mixing it with evidence from another investigation. The judge should dismiss mishandled evidence.
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