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Trials, Evidence, Testimony in the United States Essay


This paper provides the responses to two difference cases of interaction of the police with the potential suspects due to the suspicion that the latter could be involved in criminal activities. In both cases, the suspects attempt to hide evidence that is later revealed by the police officers by means of searches. Such cases are considered controversial because the police representatives’ freedoms and rights are limited when it comes to searches. As a result, it becomes possible for the defendants to appeal for a motion to suppress evidence that “is a request by a defendant that the judge exclude certain evidence from trial” (Schwartzbach, 2016, para. 1).

The Amendments

The Fourteenth Amendment of the Unites States Constitution explains the rules of the due process. According to this Amendment, due process can be subdivided into two major areas – procedural and substantive (Due Process, n. d.). The former area of due process is grounded on what is known as fundamental fairness – the establishment of the legal procedures applicable in various state hearings such as “notice, opportunity for hearing, confrontation and cross-examination, discovery, basis of decision, and availability of counsel” (Due Process of Law, 2016, para. 1). At the same time, the main role of the substantive due process is to serve as the basis for assessment of law applicability and fairness in regard to different procedures (Due Process of Law, 2016). Practically, substantive due process is more influential and can produce effect of state legislature restricting it. Equal protection is the concept that refers to the requirement that the rights and freedoms of both, the innocent and the guilty parties are equally protected from the misuse of legal procedures and criminal laws (Criminal Procedure, 2016).

The Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments to the Constitution are designed to protect the individuals from the unfair actions from the side of the law engorgement organs and courts establishing their rights and the rights of the citizens (Criminal Procedure, 2016). To be more precise, the Fourth Amendment prevents unlawful searches and seizures, the Fifth Amendment prohibits the forced self-incrimination and double jeopardy, the Sixth Amendment grants the right to a trial with the presence of an impartial jury, and finally, the Eighth Amendment restricts the limits of bail so that no excessive payments are taken (Criminal Procedure, 2016).

Case One

In the first case, the police officers who are on patrol in a district known for high rates of criminal activity notice a parked car with two people inside and one person leaning on the car and giving an unknown object to the passenger. The police officers respond to this action and approach the car when they notice that the person who gave the object to the passenger begins to walk away and the passenger commits shoving motions that lead the officers to believe that the passenger has a gun. Based on this suspicion, one of the officers frisks the passenger finding a hard object in his pocket which turns out a rock of crack cocaine. The further search reveals several more rocks and leads to the arrest of the passenger for the possession of the controlled substance.

Since this case involves the search of an individual by the police officer, it falls under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution that regulates such actions and prohibits the representatives of the law enforcement to search properties and people without having a specific and viable warrant. That way, in the case the United States v. Mayer (1987), the search of the privately owned premises (such as a plane and a hangar), revealed about six and a half hundred pounds of a controlled substance (marijuana). The court ruled that “even though the search of the airplane and hangar was apparently conducted pursuant to telephonic authorization, the government concedes that the “warrant” was defective. Accordingly, the evidence seized during the search must be suppressed” (United States v. Mayer, 1987). As a result, the defendants were able to suppress all the evidence revealed during the search because verbal consent from an authority does not qualify as a viable warrant.

Nevertheless, there are several exclusions to the Fourth Amendment. One of them is known as “stop and frisk” exception that allows the police to stop and search individuals based on what is identified as a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. NPC (2007) defines reasonable suspicion as “something beyond mere suspicion, but is less than the level required for probable cause”. This exception is based on the case Terry v. Ohio 392 U.S. 1 (1968) where an officer stopped and frisked three men based on their suspicious activity in front of a jewelry store which led the police representative to believe they were preparing to commit a crime and were armed.

In the Case One, the police observe a woman giving an unknown object to a passenger of the car parked in a high-crime district and then watches the passenger to commit shoving motions that become the basis for the officers to suspect that he may be armed. That way, the police approach the car and searches the passenger because of the shoving motions and then finds a controlled substance in his pocket. The police officers, however, had no right to search the driver of the car and the woman. That is why it is possible to conclude that in this case, the evidence suppression motion should not be granted because the police officers would be able to provide a basis of reasonable suspicion according to which they frisked the passenger. The reasonable suspicion was based on a combination of factors such as the high-crime area, the transfer of an unknown object, and the shoving motions of the passenger as the response to the approaching police officers which led the latter to believe he could be armed. Even though, the police were searching for a gun and found a forbidden substance, they have the right to seize the drugs and arrest the possessor because this created the probable cause of the committed crime (Probable Cause, 2016).

Case Two

In the second case, a police officer approaches a car parked in the area this officer knows as high-criminal due to his previous calls. Having illuminated the car, the officer notices that one of the people inside the car is touching something on the car floor. The officer approaches to check the IDs of the people in the car and then notices a bullet on the car console which leads him to conclude there may be guns in the car. Then, he has the driver step out of the car and searches it revealing a bag of crack cocaine hidden inside of the pack of beer.

This case involves the search of the privately owned property (the car) by the police officer and also falls under the Fourth Amendment. In this case, the officer illuminates the car and approaches it because of a suspicion, however, it cannot be regarded as reasonable because the primary basis for the officer’s actions is his past experience and intuition that do not count as viable reasons to create an exception to the Amendment Four (NPC, 2007). Besides, the following reason for the search of the car is the bullet that is present in plain view and could qualify as the cause for unwarranted seizure, however, the bullet alone is not a gun and cannot be connected to unlawful activities. Moreover, the officer has the people step outside the car and does not mention whether or not they provided consent to the search. In the United States v. Sanchez (1995), the officers asked for the permission to search the car first, received the owner’s consent, and only then requested that the people step out of it which is the correct legal procedure of search. That way, in the case Two, the officer approached the car without a reasonable suspicion and then violated the Fourth Amendment; and these facts provide the defendants to request the evidence suppression motion that would be satisfied due to the unlawfully conducted search.

Conclusion

The rights and freedoms of the law enforcement are limited and regulated just like those of the other citizens. This paper explored two cases where to officers were put in challenging situations and had to choose the right frameworks of actions in order to respond them without undermining their own decisions.

References

(2016). Web.

(n. d.). Web.

(2016). Web.

NPC. (2007). Web.

Schwartzbach, M. (2016). Web.

(1968). Web.

United States v. Sanchez. (1995). Web.

United States v. Mayer. (1987). Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020, August 19). Trials, Evidence, Testimony in the United States. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/trials-evidence-testimony-in-the-united-states/

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"Trials, Evidence, Testimony in the United States." IvyPanda, 19 Aug. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/trials-evidence-testimony-in-the-united-states/.

1. IvyPanda. "Trials, Evidence, Testimony in the United States." August 19, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/trials-evidence-testimony-in-the-united-states/.


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IvyPanda. "Trials, Evidence, Testimony in the United States." August 19, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/trials-evidence-testimony-in-the-united-states/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Trials, Evidence, Testimony in the United States." August 19, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/trials-evidence-testimony-in-the-united-states/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Trials, Evidence, Testimony in the United States'. 19 August.

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