It may seem like it is obvious when you are in police custody, but in truth, that question can become legally complicated. In fact, there are several reasons that the police like to blur the line between being in custody and being free, due to the legal implications of placing someone in custody. But how do you know if you are in police custody, and why does that matter?
The Supreme Court of the United States has recently ruled that criminal defendants who suffer violations of their Miranda rights and are acquitted cannot sue police who violated their rights. While this does not eradicate Miranda protections, it does mean that those who are acquitted of alleged crimes cannot get financial compensation for any harms they suffered as a result of Miranda violations. This decision is considered by advocates to be a major setback in holding the police accountable for violating the rights of criminal defendants.
Under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, every U.S. citizen has the fundamental right against self-incrimination (or, as it is more commonly known, the right to remain silent). However, protecting your right to remain silent is not as easy as it sounds, and law enforcement has a number of tricks to convince you to talk even when you do not need to. Here are some important tips you should know about protecting your right to remain silent:
If you are arrested for an alleged criminal act, you will most likely be faced with the decision as to whether you should accept a plea bargain. While this may seem like a difficult decision, the fact of the matter is that an estimated 95% of all criminal cases end with the defendant pleading their charges. Here are the pros, and cons, of taking a plea bargain:
Police brutality is a sadly common phenomenon whenever people come into contact with the police. Some law enforcement officers are willing to engage in blatant acts of violence, or other illegal or unconstitutional acts, in order to secure arrests or punish those they think deserve it. Unfortunately, even innocent witnesses and bystanders are not necessarily protected against the consequences of their misconduct. Here are five types of police brutality you may encounter when you come into contact with law enforcement:
Every American citizen has certain rights that they are entitled to as a result of the United State Constitution and various statutory laws. Unfortunately, police do not always respect these rights, resulting in harm to criminal suspects and the innocent alike. So what should you do if law enforcement officers decide to violate your rights?
Under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, no American citizen can be forced to testify against themselves (what is commonly referred to as the right to remain silent). In practical terms, this means that if someone is forced to give a confession against their will, that confession can be deemed inadmissible in court. But what exactly can make a confession involuntary, legally speaking?
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution states that no U.S. citizen can be subject to an unreasonable search or seizure without a warrant backed by probable cause. This fundamental protection is core to protecting the rights of American citizens from potential abuse by law enforcement. But what exactly is “probable cause,” and what happens when police conduct a search or seizure without it? Continue reading “When Do the Police Have Probable Cause to Conduct a Search?”
When people talk about the criminal justice system, usually the conversation revolves around three outcomes in criminal cases: taking a plea deal, being convicted at trial, or being acquitted at trial. However, there is one surprisingly common outcome that many people do not talk about, known as an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (also called an ACOD or ACD). But what is an ACOD, and why might it matter to you?
Broadly speaking, the law divides all crimes into two different categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Most people also know that, generally speaking, misdemeanors are considered as less serious than felonies. But what exactly is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony, and why should it matter to you? Continue reading “What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony?”