June 30, 2014

GET A WARRANT! SCOTUS says no more warrantless searches of cell phones.

th.jpg


The Supreme Court in the case of Riley v. California held that police must obtain a warrant before going through people’s cellphones. In a unanimous decision, this ruling is at the soul of privacy rights and marks a win for more American privacy in the ever changing technology era.

This ruling arose from two different cases Riley v. California and United States v. Wurie. In both cases police seized the defendant’s cell phone, incident to arrest, looked through it for information and that incriminating information found was used against the defendants in court.

The Police argued that searching through data on cellphones was no different from asking someone to turn out his pockets, but the justices rejected that, saying a cellphone holds the most personal and intimate details of someone’s life and falls squarely within the Fourth Amendment’s privacy protections.

The Supreme Court went on to say, “The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in the unanimous opinion. “Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple — get a warrant.”

SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) went even further to say law enforcement cannot check a cellphone’s call log because it could contain more information than phone numbers, and examining the call log is a violation of privacy that can be justified only with a court-issued warrant.

If a warrantless search was conducted on you or a family member leading to a criminal charge please contact MDH & Associates for a free consultation 615-308-5405. It’s good to know your rights!

Continue reading "GET A WARRANT! SCOTUS says no more warrantless searches of cell phones." »

November 20, 2012

Suppression of Evidence

Suppression of Evidence for a criminal defense attorney is pivotal in some major cases. Evidence that the District Attorney has obtained such as a search warrant, wiretap, video, and photos all can be challenged for its admissibility. Evidence is suppressed when a judge decides that the evidence in question was illegally obtained. This is known as the “exclusionary rule.”

Tennessee Code 50-4-108; states the following for suppression of evidence,
(a) Any person aggrieved by an unlawful inspection of premises named in an administrative inspection warrant may in any judicial or administrative proceeding move to suppress any evidence or information received, or moves for the return of any item seized, by the agency pursuant to the inspection.
(b) If the court or the administrative agency finds that the inspection was unlawful, the evidence and information shall be suppressed and any item seized returned and not considered in the proceeding.
[Acts 1979, ch. 345, § 9; T.C.A., § 50-608.]

There are other types of evidence that you can have suppressed at trial also. The “fruits of the poisonous tree” doctrine states that additional evidence discovered as a result of illegally obtained evidence is excluded at trial. For example, if an officer illegally searches your car and finds your illegal drugs in it, the drugs cannot be used as evidence at trial. The illegal search is the “poisonous tree” and the illegal drugs are the “fruit.”

However, there are some exceptions in which evidence that was obtained illegally may be used in court.

These exceptions are:
•Inevitable discovery – this means that the police would have inevitably found the evidence, with or without the illegal search
•Independent source – the discover of the evidence involved a combination of legal and illegal means, but the evidence could have been discovered by a reliable source
•Good faith – the officers who discovered the evidence has no reason to believe their search was illegal (i.e., believed the search warrant to be valid when it was not)
•Attenuation – if the connection between the illegal search and the evidence is sufficiently weak, the evidence may be considered untainted.

If you have been the victim of an illegal search and seizure or have questions about evidence suppression contact Attorney Don Himmelberg for your free consultation.

June 8, 2010

Bonnaroo 2010!!

This week marks the ninth annual Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tennessee. It seems each year this festival keeps getting bigger and draws thousands of fans to the otherwise sleepy town of Manchester in Coffee County, Tennessee. The lineup this year includes acts such as Dave Matthews, Jay Z, Stevie Wonder, Kings of Leon, and many, many others. We certainly hope everyone who is planning on attending the show has a great time and is both safe and hassle free. Please note, law enforcement officers throughout the State of Tennessee will be out in full force as you make your way to the show in Manchester this weekend.


bonnaroo-2010-banner.jpg

Continue reading "Bonnaroo 2010!!" »

April 19, 2007

Drug Sniffing Dogs- Are they constitutional? Are they reliable?

In 2005, the United States Supreme Court held in the case of Illinois v. Caballes that when a trained drug dog sniffs a persons automobile, there is no search. As a result, no constitutional violation occurs. This is the case even if the police have absolutely no reason to suspect you may be carrying illegal contraband whatsoever.

617050_police_dogs.jpg

The majority reasoned that a dog’s sniffing is not really a “search” because it detects only contraband, and therefore does not compromise the privacy of someone who has nothing to hide. Justices David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg both dissented strongly, warning that this decision could lead to “suspicionless and indiscriminate sweeps of cars in parking garages and pedestrians on sidewalks.”

The decision was not shocking, it was merely an extension of an earlier case decided by the Supreme Court in 1982 which held that the use of drug sniffing dogs to search luggage in an airport was in fact not a search either. (United States v. Place).

Continue reading "Drug Sniffing Dogs- Are they constitutional? Are they reliable?" »