Criminal Investigation

Criminal Investigation

CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION 6

CriminalInvestigation

InstitutionAffiliation

CriminalInvestigation

Therewas a time when standards concerning investigative procedures thatlaw enforcement officers were established by experienced officersbasing on the common experience they had acquired in the field.Later, changes were made, leading to changes in defining of criminalprocedures. Since the 1960s, the US Supreme Court became the key bodyin interpreting laws to be followed in criminal investigations. TheSupreme Court has since issued over 300 opinions that have direct orindirect control over basic aspects of work done by police includingarrests, searches, detentions, seizure of evidence, interrogation ofsuspects, eyewitness identification evidence and entry into privateresidences. All the changes were made into a single act called TheCriminal Procedure Act. This paper will do an in-depth discussion ofa case currently scheduled to be heard in the Supreme Court next yearto determine areas in which the detective police officers involvedbroke this Act and how their ways of obtaining evidence could impactthe outcomes of the case.

LegalConcepts

Thiscase is surrounded by several legal issues that undermine many of itsaspects and highly affect its implications and the final outcomes.The Fourth Amendment to the constitution provides protection to allUnited States residents, whether or not charged with a crime, againstunreasonable searches and seizures. Under this amendment, lawenforcement personnel are not allowed to conduct and a ‘search andseizure’ on a personal property unless they have probable cause.The Fourth Amendment states that &quotTheright of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers andeffects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not beviolated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing theplace to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. &quotAccording to the US Constitution, a search is said to have occurredif the subjective expectation of privacy of an individual isinfringed. In this case, the subject’s expectation of privacy wasinfringed by the detective law enforcement officers when they climbedthe wall and gathered evidence of marijuana being grown in the house.Additionally, they also conducted a search when they entered thesubject’s house disguised aspower company employees and municipal water workers.

Now,considering the two searches, it is clear that they were conductedwith no warrant even if the officers had probable/reasonable causefor conducting them. The US Constitution and the constitutions ofmany states render searches that are done without a warrantunreasonable or illegal. Although illegal, there are a fewexceptional circumstances under which a warrant is not necessary fora search to be conducted by law enforcement officers. In this case,the officers had probable cause for conducting the searches without awarrant because of the evidence they had collected on the subject.The officers placed a video camera at the location that they wereinformed that sold marijuana during business and off-business hours.Since the location was provided free access to the public, it cannotbe said that owner/subject expected reasonable privacy inside it.Members of the public could walk in freely and buy marijuana. Thisimplies that the business location was not protected from the publicand any member of the public could have easily noticed the marijuanaplants and equipment used for planting marijuana. The evidence of theexistence of marijuana in the shop cannot be said to have beenobtained illegally by the video cameras because the place was open tothe public. The evidence of the plants provided the officers withprobable cause in addition to the marijuana smell from the house. TheSupreme Court recognizes the value of a law enforcement officer’suse of the sense of smell to identify evidence of a crime or possiblecommission of a crime. In the year 1932, the Supreme Court statedthat &quotprohibitionofficers may rely on distinctive odors as a physical fact indicativeof a possible crime.&quot As such, the smell of marijuana comingfrom the house was enough probable cause for the law enforcementofficers to perform a search without a warrant. Therefore, allevidence uncovered during a search following smelling marijuana andfollowing the subject from the shop using evidence from the videocamera is admissible at trial.

Anotherpiece of evidence that is very important to the circumstances of thiscase is one that was obtained by officers who were disguised as powercompany employees and municipal water workers. That evidence isadmissible in court if and only if the marijuana was in plain sightwhere an ordinary worker from the aforementioned organizations wouldhave noticed it easily. Additionally, if the officers never went toother places within the house where they were not invited to or wherepower company employees and municipal water workers would not beallowed to go, then it is legit. The Fourth Amendment will notprovide protection against such evidence because the subject/owner ofthehouse did not expect reasonable privacy in the areas where theyinvited the powercompany employees and municipal water workers. As such, thehydroponic plants were available for seeing by the public, whichconstitutes the power company employees and municipal water workers.

Theevidence available is solid enough to convict the subject ofinvestigation because it was obtained without a warrant but itstrongly called for a search based on probable cause. The absence ofa warrant will not lead to the suspect walking away without payingfor their crime.

Althoughmost methods used for obtaining the evidence are legal andjustifiable by the law, some elements highly abused personal rightsthat the US constitution strongly provides to the citizens of the US.The constitution provides civil lawsuits can be filed against lawenforcement officers, law enforcement officer supervisors, sergeants,and law enforcement agencies if they infringed or abused personalrights in conducting their law enforcement duties. In this case, thelaw enforcement officers in question broke the law by jumping overthe subject’s wall to obtain evidence. The subject might file acivil lawsuit against the officers even if they resigned to avoidinternal investigation issues. The sergeant who ordered thedestruction of the DVD that contained evidence of the officersjumping over the subject’s wall and engaged in other acts thatundermined the subject’s personal rights may also be sued formisuse of power, destruction of evidence, and being part of aconspiracy to break the law. Evidence obtained when the officersjumped the subject’s wall will be inadmissible in court because itwas obtained illegally. The means used to obtain that evidenceundermined personal privacy in the subject’s home. As such, thesubject may have to be compensated for having their rights infringed.

References

Swanson,C. R., Chamelin, N. C., Territo, L., &amp Taylor, R. W. (2012).Criminal investigation (11th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.