Police Misconduct & Defenses to Criminal Conduct
Police misconduct that is associated with the investigation of a crime, whether intentional misconduct or unintentional misconduct, could lead to the suppression of evidence or the discrediting of evidence.
To suppress evidence means to render the evidence inadmissible in a criminal proceeding. To discredit the evidence means to call into question the legitimacy, reliability, or relevancy of the evidence. Sometimes evidence may be suppressed for a limited purpose in a criminal proceeding, such as using the otherwise suppressed evidence only if the defendant testifies, etc.
Misconduct by police officers has different forms: 1) violations of the defendant's legal rights; 2) evidence of officer's prior misconduct [in a prior criminal case] that affects the credibility of the officer's testimony in the defendant's current case [Pitchess Motions]; and 3) Entrapment [Police misconduct that promotes criminal activity and serves as an affirmative defense to the defendant's otherwise criminal conduct].
Suppression of evidence
When an officer commits misconduct by violating the defendant's rights, the evidence is suppressed. The evidence that is suppressed might include confessions, physical evidence, medical reports, scientific reports, statements and observations of witnesses, and more. Examples of the basis for suppression motions include:
- Evidence that is suppressed as it was obtained in violation of the defendant's right against unreasonable search or seizure and without Probable Cause (Fourth Amendment violations) [Note: Cases where there is a warrant obtained by police for search and seizure may still lead to the suppression of evidence if the warrant was obtained without probable cause or based on unreliable informants]
- Evidence that is suppressed because the defendant's right to remain silent was not observed by law enforcement officers after the defendant invoked his right to remain silent (Fifth Amendment violations)
- Evidence that is suppressed because it was obtained in violation of the defendant's right to have an attorney present during all critical stages of the criminal proceedings (Sixth Amendment violations)
- Evidence that is suppressed because the collection of the evidence violated the defendant's right to Due Process or Equal Protection of the laws (Due Process violations), and more.
Other types of police misconduct
- Prejudice or Misconduct of Officers in Prior Criminal Cases: Example: showing that the investigating officers in the defendant's criminal case have prior disciplinary actions for misconduct concerning untruthfulness or prejudice towards a class of persons so as to discredit those offices in the defendant's current criminal case (Pitchess Motion)
- Entrapment: Example: Improper police procedure that amounts to promoting a crime where the defendant was not predisposed to commit the crime in the first place. This defense is most commonly used when police conduct prostitution stings, drug transaction, or money theft transactions, and the police officer's conduct in setting up the sting operation encourages the illegal conduct of the defendant) [More on Entrapment defense at Entrapment]
In sum, every criminal case is different and whether police misconduct, intentional or unintentional, applies in a criminal case to promote a defense depends on many factors. The laws that support suppression of evidence, Pitchess Motions, and Entrapment defenses, turn on the nuances of facts particular to the defendant's criminal case.
If you or a loved one is charged with a criminal offense in California, call criminal defense attorney Christopher Dorado today. Attorney Dorado and his team of successful criminal defense trial attorneys dedicate 100% of their law practice to defending the accused. We are available 24/7 to answer your criminal law and procedure questions.
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Common Defenses to Criminal Charges
- Due Process Violations
- Statute of Limitations
- Double Jeopardy
- Search & Seizure Violations
- Mistake of Fact
- Insufficient Evidence
- Claim of Right
- Procedural Defenses
- Technical Defenses
- Lack of Jurisdiction
- Coerced Confessions
- Jury Nullification
- Self Defense
- Defense of Other People