In 2022 and 2023, many people followed the Britney Griner saga, some disdainfully and some sympathetically. Regardless of your perspective, these events made it clear that there is no Bill of Rights in Russia. These provisions are not just technicalities. They’re the only thing that separates a system like the American system, where everyone gets a day in court, from a system like Russia.
Police officers and prosecutors care very little about these rights. Police officers just want to make arrests, and prosecutors just want to convict defendants. So, unless a Marietta criminal defense lawyer identifies violations and stands up for these rights, they might as well not exist. Furthermore, procedural defenses are very effective in individual cases. No one can go back in time and erase mistakes.
Search and Seizure Probable Cause
Usually, probable cause is a Legalese phrase that means anything a judge or jury decides it means. But in this context, probable cause means a warrant or a recognized exception.
Warrants must be based on affidavits that rely on facts, not conjecture. Additionally, the affidavit cannot over-rely on an informant’s uncorroborated testimony. Informants, like the rest of us, will say almost anything for love (leniency in another case) or money (a cash payment that often exceeds $10,000).
Owner consent is the most common search warrant exception, followed by an item in plain view. There’s a big difference between consent, which is 100 percent voluntary, and assent, which is at least partially coerced. Items seized in plain view are only admissible in court if the initial stop was legal.
Before they interrogate suspects in custody, officers must read suspects their Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent, in a language they understand. Interrogation doesn’t mean using bright lights in an interview room. “Where are you heading?” and other seemingly innocuous questions count as interrogation. Likewise, custody doesn’t mean the back of a police car. Custody means the suspect doesn’t feel free to leave.
Any evidence investigators obtain from illegal interrogations, such as a confession or the location of contraband, is fruit from a poisonous tree and inadmissible in court.
DJ isn’t just the part of the show when dollar amounts double and scores change quickly. Double jeopardy means trying a defendant for the same crime twice.
Generally, to prosecutors, double jeopardy is an insurance policy. If a judge grants a mistrial in Jane’s drug trafficking case, prosecutors cannot retry her for drug trafficking. But they can charge her with drug possession.
Things could get messy. For example, in a 2020 Ohio case, a man illegally sold heroin cut with fentanyl. The state charged him with illegally trafficking both substances. The state supreme court threw out the second conviction on double jeopardy grounds.
All defendants have the right to an attorney. Indigent defendants have the right to a court-appointed lawyer or public defender. Usually, judges set their own guidelines as to who is “indigent.”
In movies and TV shows, a heroic Marietta criminal defense lawyer rides to the rescue just as the defendant is about to crack under intense police interrogation. The real world is different. This Sixth Amendment right doesn’t kick in until the state files formal charges. Officers cannot prevent lawyers from counseling clients earlier, but they don’t have to provide lawyers either.
This important right ended a once-common practice. Officers picked up suspects, threw them in jail, and let them sit there until they confessed. So, the right to a speedy trial is especially important in jail cases. Incarcerated individuals shouldn’t have to wait more than a few days, or a few weeks at most, to have a day in court.
Different rules apply to bond cases. These cases are on a different track. Many defendants wait months or years for a trial date, especially if they want a jury trial.
That delay isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Delay hurts the party with the burden of proof. Over time, memories fade and physical evidence disappears. The burden of proof is so high in criminal cases that one witness with a fuzzy memory could be the difference between a conviction and an acquittal.
Don’t overlook this important right. Usually, people are on their best behavior when they know someone else is watching.
This right is similar to the public trial right. Many people say very bad things about other people behind their backs or on social media. But it’s much harder to make such accusations in front of the accused, and also to make these accusations in public.
Furthermore, the right to confront witnesses gives a Marietta criminal defense attorney an opportunity to cross-examine these witnesses. Police officers are essentially professional witnesses who aren’t easily rattled. Most likely, civilian witnesses have never testified in court before.
Some judges relax this rule in some extreme cases. For example, traumatized children usually don’t have to confront the people who allegedly abused them.
Initially, the sheriff usually sets bail based on the defendant’s criminal record as well as the severity of the charges. The results may not be reasonable. If Tim was a lookout during an armed robbery, he faces armed robbery charges, but he’s clearly not an armed robber.
A Marietta criminal defense lawyer makes a big difference. At a subsequent bail reduction hearing, an attorney forces a judge to consider other factors, such as Tim’s ability to pay and his ties with the community, that make a bail amount much more reasonable.
California adds penalty assessments to traffic tickets. If the driver misses a court date, a $35 speeding ticket becomes a $325 ticket. Many people might say that amount is excessive.
Fine enforcement is a somewhat related matter. Many Cobb County judges won’t revoke probation based solely on a failure to pay fines. Debtors’ prisons are illegal in the United States.
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Here in the land of the free and the home of the brave, Griner’s ten-year sentence for possessing THC vape cartridges for personal use, even at an airport, is clearly cruel and unusual.
Other punishments, like capital punishment, are controversial. We can go back and forth on this issue all day long and never reach a resolution. Still other punishments, mostly humiliation punishments, are borderline cruel and unusual. An Ignition Interlock Device is a good example. IIDs are excellent law enforcement tools, but they also loudly proclaim “I picked up a DUI” to anyone who gets in the defendant’s vehicle.
Criminal defendants have important rights in Georgia. For a free consultation with an experienced Marietta criminal defense attorney, contact The Phillips Law Firm, LLC. We routinely handle matters in Cobb County and nearby jurisdictions.