Upcoming Supreme Court Decisions on Several Big Ticket Criminal Law Items

The fall of 2017 will be a time of major decision making for the U.S. Supreme Court and its new Justice Neil Gorsuch. The Court will be deciding on a number of cases, but its focus on the following cases and criminal law issues is of particular interest to attorneys nationwide. A Boston criminal defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with any type of crime.

Cell Phone Searches

Is cell phone location data simply routing information, or does it constitute conversational content? That is the big question in United States v. Carpenter, the case in which law enforcement officers used cell site data to incriminate Timothy Carpenter. The officers didn’t get a warrant before obtaining this information, and they used it to link Carpenter to locations at which several robberies had occurred. If cell phone location data is only a form of routing information, it is not protected by the Fourth Amendment. If, however, the Supreme Court decides that this information is a form of conversational content, it is protected by the Fourth Amendment, making law enforcement’s actions in the above case unconstitutional.

Vehicle Searches

In Ryan Austin Collins v. Commonwealth of Virginia, law enforcement officers were searching for a stolen motorcycle when one of the officers saw what appeared to be a motorcycle under a tarp in Collins’s driveway. The officer lifted the tarp and jotted down the bike’s identification number. The number matched the stolen bike, and Collins was immediately arrested. But did the officer violate Collins’s constitutional right by obtaining this evidence without a warrant? Does the automobile exception apply on private property? In addition to this case, the Supreme Court will also be considering United States of America v. Terrence Byrd, a case involving privacy rights of a non-registered driver of a rental car. A MA criminal defense attorney can help you understand your rights and options if you’ve been charged with a crime.

Police Immunity

In an especially interesting case, a group of 16 partygoers have brought a lawsuit against police, saying that they were illegally arrested for trespassing at a party to which they had been invited. Police arrested the 16 individuals for having a late-night part at what appeared to be an abandoned house. But the group says it was invited to the house by “Peaches,” and that – due to this invitation – their arrest was illegal. In Wesby v. District of Columbia, the Court will consider qualified immunity for police officers in lawsuits such as this one. Are there limits to this type of immunity, and if so, what are they?

What are Constitutional Rights?

When it comes to criminal law and constitutional rights, most protections for defendants come from the Amendments to the Constitution. The rights below are among the most frequently-arising:

  • 4th Amendment rights: Include provisions on search warrants, and the right to be free from illegal search and seizure.
  • 5th Amendment rights: Include the right to be silent, the right to due process, and Miranda rights.
  • 6th Amendment rights: Include the right to a speedy trial and an impartial jury, and the right to obtain legal counsel.

Violations of  these rights are often the basis for defenses in criminal cases. If, for example, evidence was illegally seized without a warrant, the defendant’s 4th amendment rights may have been violated, and that evidence will likely be disallowed as evidence in a criminal trial.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Premier Criminal Law Firm Serving all of MA

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of individuals charged with crimes for more than 50 years. It is our goal to keep you out of jail, and to keep your record clean. Our experienced, knowledgeable attorneys have an impressive track record of getting clients’ charges reduced, or dismissed altogether. Don’t go through this challenging time alone, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

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