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Archive for the ‘warrantless police searches’ tag

Privacy Rights Upheld in Recent Supreme Court Case

September 14th, 2018 at 8:31 am

Chicago criminal defense lawyer unreasonable search and seizureIf you are facing a criminal charge, this does not mean that you are not entitled to the same rights and protections afforded to other individuals in the United States, including the right to privacy. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution affords citizens the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Search warrants are used to ensure that if a search is being conducted, then there is a legitimate reason and cause for conducting the search. There are exceptions to this rule, however. Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the right to privacy for suspects regarding warrantless searches.

Collins v. Virginia

In the case of Collins v. Virginia, the defendant was suspected of being in possession of a motorcycle that had been stolen. The motorcycle was parked under a three-walled enclosure that was covered with a tarp. This enclosure was located at the defendant’s girlfriend’s house. The house also had a traditional garage that could completely block the inside of the garage from outside view. The police suspected that this motorcycle was parked at the defendant’s girlfriend’s home and therefore went to examine the scene. Instead of obtaining a search warrant, the police officers proceeded up the driveway to where the motorcycle was parked under the tarp. The motorcycle turned out to be the stolen property they were looking for, and the defendant was arrested.

At trial, the defendant argued that his fundamental right to privacy that is guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment was violated because the police did not have a valid search warrant for the property. The state argued that finding the motorcycle without a search warrant fell under the automobile exception. The automobile exception states that police are allowed to search a vehicle when there is probable cause that the vehicle contained some type of evidence or contraband.

The Court found that the automobile exception was not applicable in this case. Instead, the three-walled tarp enclosure could be considered a part of the home. As a part of the home, it receives the same type of heightened rights to privacy as the living area of the home. The Court went on further to state that the automobile exception applies only to situations where the alleged evidence or contraband is inside of a vehicle, not sitting underneath a tarp on someone else’s property.

An Attorney Can Help You Today

If you have been charged with a criminal offense and are concerned your rights have been violated, contact experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher M. Cosley. Attorney Cosley is dedicated to using every possible defense applicable under the circumstances, including improper searches due to lack of a search warrant. We know that just because you might be charged with a crime, you should not lose your rights. Contact us today at 847-394-3200 for a free consultation.


Probable Cause: When Are Police Allowed to Search a Vehicle without a Warrant?

July 15th, 2015 at 3:45 pm

your rights, Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorney,Two of the most common types of criminal charges are drug charges and weapons charges. These two types of cases have something in common. They often involve a police officer searching some area (like a car or a home or a person) and finding an item that is the very basis of the crime, like a gun or drugs. Of course, many people understand that in most situations the police need a warrant to go in and search someone’s home. This is ultimately because of the Fourth Amendment. However what many people do not understand is that, because of some United States Supreme Court decisions, the police usually do not need a warrant to search a vehicle.

Occasionally the Police Need a Warrant to Search a Car

Very often police do not need a warrant to search your vehicle. Certainly, however, there are some exceptions. For example, if your car is being stored in your garage at your home and none of the warrant exceptions apply that would allow the police to search your home without a warrant, then they probably cannot search the car without a warrant (or your permission) either. This is because without your permission or a warrant, they cannot go into the garage. However, if your car were parked on a public street in front of your house, then a warrant likely would not be required.

Most of the Time the Cops Do Not Need a Warrant

Most of the time police officers do not need a warrant to search a car that you are out driving around. This exception to the Fourth Amendment dates back to a case almost as old as automobiles, known as Carroll v. United States. In this case from 1925 the United States Supreme Court ruled that an officer can search an automobile without a warrant so long as the officer has “probable cause” to believe that either evidence or contraband is in the automobile. Probable cause is one of the lowest burdens of proof in our legal system. The reasoning behind this ruling is two-fold.

First of all, since by their very nature cars are movable, there is a real threat of evidence destruction if officers have to wait for a warrant. Secondly, the Court theorized that there is less of an expectation of privacy in a car then there is in a home since cars are operated on public roadways under state regulations. Motor homes that are readily mobile, trailers pulled by trucks, boats, house boats, and airplanes are also covered by this exception.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are the suspect in a crime, or if you have already been charged, you will need help. There are many issues to consider beyond just whether or not you are guilty. In many cases there are important constitutional issues at stake like issues regarding the Fourth Amendment. In these cases you need someone on your side who has an in depth understanding of the law. You will need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at (847)394-3200.

Can Police Search Cell Phones without a Warrant?

May 22nd, 2014 at 7:30 am

Chicago criminal defense attorney, search cell phones, search warrant, right to privacy, warrantless police searches, privacy protectionsThe law of warrantless search and seizure and other limits on police activity has been argued and debated in criminal cases for over a hundred years. Now, that argument is extending to the use of technology in modern times. According to a recent news article, the United States Supreme Court is considering two cases about warrantless police searches of defendants’ cell phones and the legality of such actions.

What is a Cell Phone?

Each case currently before the Court portrays a cell phone in completely opposing lights. Whether the Court considers a cell phone a criminal’s tool or an individual’s virtual home will directly affect their decision and the outcome of the cases in question. The defense is arguing that warrantless searches of cell phones upon arrest violates the right to privacy in the digital age.

The government is arguing that the searches are constitutional, reasoning that cell phones are no different than any other possession found on a person when they are arrested, and that search incident to arrest in the absence of a warrant has long been upheld in high court cases. Taking it a step further, the government is also saying that cell phones act as critical tools in the commission of a crime.

The Right to Privacy

In the broader legal world, some are urging the Court to consider a broad view on privacy protections that are implicated by police having access to powerful devices that are capable of storing volumes of personal information. Cell phones are powerful, and are only becoming more so as technology advances.

Those on the privacy side of the argument are saying that cell phones should be afforded the same protections as citizens’ homes when it comes it police intrusion, requiring a warrant that is supported by probable cause. However, the legal analysis is more complicated than that, due, in part, to the numerous exceptions that have been identified over the years for police behavior when arresting a suspect. Police generally have more leeway for warrantless searches in these situations in order to ensure officer safety and to prevent evidence from being destroyed.

A Resolution is Expected

Both state and federal courts have struggled with this issue, in some cases coming to opposing rulings. The impending rulings from the Supreme Court are expected to provide a resolution regarding whether cell phones will receive special protection. It is also possible for the Court to come up with a narrow ruling that applies in some circumstances but not others. One thing is certain: the rate at which technology is developed and changes will be a key consideration in reaching a decision in these cases.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Although the Supreme Court has yet to extend privacy protections to cell phones, there are numerous other safeguards in place to protect a criminal suspect or defendant from police intrusion. If you have been charged with a crime and believe your privacy protections may have been implicated, an experienced criminal defense attorney can discuss your case with you and protect your rights. Contact the Law Office of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Cook County and surrounding areas.

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