The United States Constitution protects the citizens of the United States against unreasonable searches and seizures via Suppression Motions. Although the Fourth Amendment mentions the need for a warrant in order to perform a search, under certain circumstances a warrant is not required. An attorney may file Suppression Motions to try and keep out evidence. One of these circumstances is regarding the stop-and-frisk law. The stop-and-frisk law, Miranda Rights under the Fourth Amendment, does not require that a police officer acquires a warrant before performing a stop-and-frisk. By giving police officers the power to stop-and-frisk, they are able to deter crime by catching potential criminals before the commission of a crime has even occurred. The purpose of the stop-and-frisk law is to keep officers safe and to deter crime.
One of the primary issues in Suppression Motions is whether the police action against the defendant constitutes a seizure. If a seizure occurs, then a court should grant a defendant's suppression motion and exclude evidence seized by the police. The threshold issue for this Court to determine is whether the encounter rose to the level of a seizure. A seizure has legally occurred when an officer, by means of physical force or show of authority, has restrained the liberty of an individual. Id at 623. "To decide whether a seizure has occurred, a court must consider all the circumstances surrounding the encounter to determine whether the police conduct would have communicated to a reasonable person that the person was not free to decline the officers' requests or otherwise terminate the encounter. Stated differently, we ask whether a reasonable person, innocent of any crime, would have thought he was being restrained if he had been in the defendant's shoes." Important circumstances to consider include, but are not limited to, the following: the number of officers present during the interaction; Miranda Rights whether the officer informs the citizen they are suspected of criminal activity; the officer's demeanor and tone of voice; the location and timing of the interaction; the visible presence of weapons on the officer; and the questions asked.
Defendant's may challenge evidence that is seized by the police by filing a suppression motion. A suppression motion can be used to suppress evidence that is seized as a result of police interaction with Defendants. If Police interaction with defendants is too aggressive, then evidence should be suppressed. It is undisputed that Pennsylvania case law recognizes three categories of interaction between police officers and citizens. Consent and the Police Evidence seized during an arrest might have to be suppressed by the court, depending upon the type of interaction that the court finds took place between the accused and the police. The first type of interaction is a mere encounter, or request for information, which need not be supported by any level of suspicion by the police, however, this also carries no official compulsion for the accused to stop or to respond to the police. The second is an investigative detention, which must be supported by reasonable suspicion as it subjects a suspect to a stop and a period of detention, but does not involve such coercive conditions as to constitute the functional equivalent of an arrest; and (3) arrest or custodial detention, which must be supported by probable cause.
An interesting Suppression issue under the law is what are the rights of people who are on state parole to be free of search and seizures under the 4th amendment from their parole agents? Miranda Rights Generally speaking, if the police want to enter someone's home, they must have the consent of the owner of the home or a search warrant permitting them entry into the house in order to search for contraband. (If they do not do this then their is a Suppression issue raised whereby the Defendant may have the fruits of the search suppressed). However, an individual on state parole does not have as much of a privacy right from searches made by his parole agents. And generally, parole agents can enter their parolee's homes and search their homes so long as they satisfy a fairly low legal standard.
Suppression of evidence means that the evidence is not allowed in court. In search and seizure cases, there is one Suppression issue that arises with great frequency, and that is, when do the police not need a search warrant to enter and search my home. In this blog, we will be exploring various circumstances when the police do not need a search warrant to enter your home. read about drug crimes Almost all of these instances involve something called exigent circumstances. Exigent circumstances are circumstances where there is something going on in the case such that the police are not required to get a search warrant. Examples of this are the destruction of evidence, safety of other people or the police are engaged in a hot pursuit of an accused.
The general rule under Pennsylvania law is that police officers must obtain a warrant prior to searching any area or item. An exception to the general rule occurs when the owner of the place or item to be searched consents to the police officer searching without a warrant. In those cases, the search is not unlawful if the consent was validly given.
The United States Supreme Court recently issued a ruling holding that police are NOT permitted to search a person's cell phone incident to an arrest absent a warrant or a separate exigent circumstance.
In a fairly recent United States Supreme Court case, the Court had to resolve the issue of whether the police use of heat-seeking devices to detect whether the owner of a home was growing marijuana inside his residence constituted a search for Constitutional purposes.
The United States and Pennsylvania Constitutions protect against unreasonable searches and seizures. In a number of cases, the United States Supreme Court has had to address the issues of whether the police's use of a drug-sniffing dog constitutes a search and, if so, whether that search is unreasonable.
A new Pennsylvania Supreme Court case has ruled on the proper standard to analyze warrantless searches of an automobile. In this case, the PA Supreme Court has held that the proper standard is the standard the federal courts apply: namely if a police officer has probable cause to believe that an automobile may contain contraband, the probable cause plus the fact that an automobile is readily mobile, creates an exception to the warrant requirement.