DiCindio Law LLC | April 6, 2022 | Criminal Defense
Things Cops Do That Are Illegal: What a Police Officer Can and Cannot Do in Pennsylvania
There are many times we wonder if police can legally do what they are doing. Can they lie to you? Do they need a warrant to search your house? What about your car?
The law as it relates to what police can and can’t do is mainly created in case law. There are not many statutes specifically addressing police conduct or behavior. Therefore, what type of conduct exceeds the bounds of the law is sorted out in cases on the subject of searches and seizures, or other prohibited conduct by law enforcement. Navigating those cases and knowing how they apply to your situation is critical to your criminal defense.
How Do I Know If I Am Being Questioned?
Most people have seen or heard police read “Miranda rights” on television. However, you may not realize what they are or why they are called that? These rights originate from the case Miranda v. Arizona.
Upon arrest, you have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Law enforcement must inform you of these rights if they plan to subject you to questioning or interrogation. After they read you these rights, you may waive them and agree to speak. Then, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. If you are simply arrested and not questioned, the officers do not have to read your Miranda rights.
But suppose you are detained and questioned regarding an offense without being read your Miranda rights. In this case, the court may suppress these statements pursuant to a motion by your attorney.
Should I Maintain my Right to Remain Silent?
Remain silent. You might want to give your side of the story. You might worry you will appear guilty by remaining silent or asking for a lawyer.
However, even the slightest misstatement can be interpreted as an admission or later used to implicate you in some way regarding the charges you are facing. That is why it is so important that you remain silent until you have had a chance to speak with a criminal defense attorney.
Can the Police Search My Car or House without a Warrant?
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed a prior ruling that had cleared the way for warrantless searches of vehicles. Thankfully, this is no longer the case.
Police can stop drivers and perform searches due to an alleged odor of marijuana, even if those searches turn up no drugs at all. Many defense lawyers are challenging these types of stops and detentions and questioning whether it is constitutional or a violation of an individual’s rights.
Police need a warrant to search your house. And “house” is really any residence or place you have been residing or have a similar expectation of privacy. That means this goes for apartments and even hotel rooms in some instances. There are limited exceptions to the warrant requirement for searching a residence. For example, officers may search your house with legal consent to enter or in cases of exigent circumstances.
Suppose a search conducted by the police leads to contraband, and that search is deemed unlawful. In this case, an experienced criminal defense attorney could file a motion to suppress that evidence or have it deemed inadmissible for use by the prosecution.
Contact an Attorney If You Believe The Police Acted Illegally In Your Case
If you believe police have violated your constitutional rights or acted unlawfully, contact one of our experienced West Chester criminal defense lawyers today to discuss your case. We can evaluate the police’s conduct before and after your arrest and determine if they acted illegally. We can file motions to suppress evidence and protect your rights throughout your case.