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When suspected of a crime, or charged with a crime, all citizens have certain due process rights that are guaranteed by our Constitution. One of those fundamental rights is the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Whenever evidence is seized from a citizen, it must generally be the result of a valid search warrant or exigent circumstances that make getting a warrant impractical. Even when such circumstances exist, if certain requirements are not met, and hence the protected privacy rights of the defendant have been violated, any evidence obtained may not be admissible in a court of law.

Drug charges against two men have been dismissed and a New York City police detective has been arrested and charged with several crimes because he allegedly repeatedly lied under oath to a grand jury in 2009 about the search and arrest of the two men.  

At a suppression hearing after a motion to exclude evidence, challenging probable cause for the search, the detective allegedly made false statements about the circumstances under which the search occurred. He testified that he stopped the men because he believed one of them was a confidential informant. He said that once he realized the man was not a confidential informant, he told the men to leave and take a duffel bag that was in their possession with them. He then stated that he searched the bag because neither man would admit that the bag was his. The bag in question contained cocaine.

The New York District Attorney’s office released a statement indicating that an investigation by Internal Affairs revealed that the detective arrested the men and unlawfully searched their bag without probable cause. All charges against the men were dismissed because of the detective’s false testimony. The district attorney expressed his dismay regarding the incident, condoning the actions of the police officer.

This situation clearly illustrates that there is a strong need for criminal defense attorneys to advocate for defendants and ensure that their rights are protected. If you have been charged with a crime, the best way to protect your own rights may be to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: Newsday, “NYC cop indicted on charges he lied in drug arrests,” Candice Ruud, April 30, 2014

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