September 29, 2021 | Criminal Defense
There are many things cops do that are illegal in Lexington, Kentucky. In this article, the criminal defense lawyers at Suhre & Associates discuss what a police officer can and cannot do.
Police actions are subject to numerous constraints from the U.S. Constitution, statutes, and courts. These constraints on police action protect your rights and safety as you go about your daily life.
Cops are required to follow the law, or they will risk doing something illegal. If the police violated your rights, a court may throw out certain evidence in your case. Alternatively, you could have a civil lawsuit against the state.
Defense lawyers go to law school for three years to learn the legal doctrines dictating what police can and cannot do; police academy is much shorter. It is almost impossible for the police to always follow the law—there are too many rules for them to know!
Excessive Use of Force in Lexington
One of the worst mistakes the police make is using excessive force. When the police use excessive force, people end up injured or killed. Use of force rules dictate that a police officer should use the minimum amount of force necessary for the situation. When the police use excessive force, the injured party or their family may have a “Section 1983” civil suit.
The amount of force that can be used in a given situation is typically determined by the “reasonable person” test. This legal test asks how a reasonable police officer would have acted in that same situation. Lethal force is only authorized when the officer reasonably believes they are facing death or severe injury.
Courts analyzing the use of force by an officer compare what happened to what a reasonable police officer would have done. Judges will hear expert testimony from law enforcement officers and instructors about the use of force. Typically, both sides will have dueling experts, with one side arguing the force was reasonable and the other side arguing it was excessive.
Illegal Interrogations in Kentucky
A favorite strategy of defense lawyers is proving an illegal interrogation occurred. Sometimes prosecutors think they have a home run case based on incriminating statements. However, the police are required to comply with your Miranda Rights before asking you any questions after an arrest.
Failing to do so violates your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and your Sixth Amendment right to counsel. These rights are more commonly known as the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.
In practice, a Miranda violation may be based on the timing of police reading your Miranda Rights. They could read your rights too late after you already confessed or made an incriminating statement. If this happens, a motion in limine may be able to get the statements thrown out so they can’t be used against you.
Illegal Searches in Lexington
Motions in Limine aren’t limited to incriminating statements. Another section of the Constitution, the Fourth Amendment, provides limitations on searches conducted by police. If cops search your car, house, or person, they must follow complex legal rules.
If they don’t, physical evidence such as drugs, guns, and stolen property can be ruled inadmissible in court. This is called the exclusionary rule. It is a remedy provided by courts to put a check on illegal police searches. The police know they have to follow search rules or risk the whole case!
Each type of search has different levels of suspicion that the police must have before performing the search. Three different levels of suspicion include:
- Reasonable Suspicion
- Probable Cause
- A search warrant
A search warrant is a legal document signed by a judge. In it, the police lay out all their reasons for thinking there is evidence of a crime in the location to be searched. If the judge agrees there is probable cause, the judge signs off on it. This is the gold standard of suspicion for a search, and evidence is rarely thrown out if there is a warrant.
Probable cause and reasonable suspicion are used to conduct stops and searches much more frequently. Police on patrol in the community don’t have time to go to court and get a warrant, so they have to rely on their training to determine if there is enough suspicion of a crime to search you or your vehicle.
When the police don’t have a warrant, they are only allowed to perform a search if they have a strong enough belief evidence of a crime is present. This is very difficult for them, which means opportunity for the defense. Take a DUI investigation, for instance.
The police are not allowed to move straight to a blood draw until they have performed field sobriety tests to determine if they have enough suspicion of DUI. The NHTSA training manual on field sobriety tests is 648 pages long. If any portion of a field sobriety test is incorrectly administered, suspicion of intoxication is called into question, and further searches may be illegal.
The criminal defense lawyers at Suhre & Associates know how to use these types of errors in judgment to the advantage of our clients. We go over every case with a fine-toothed comb because we know cases can be won and lost in the tiny details.
333 West Vine Street #212
Lexington, KY 40507