Few would support the occurrence of criminal activity in their neighborhood, but the desire for a safe place to live does not always supplant a person’s reluctance to report suspicious or criminal activity to police. Unfortunately, history has shown that police tend to assume most crimes are committed by minorities, and unfairly target minority populations when problems occur. A person never knows where a police suspicion could lead, and a criminal defense attorney should be retained to protect one’s rights. However, without cooperation from witnesses and others with relevant information, police cannot effectively do their job. Undocumented immigrants are especially hesitant to cooperate with police due to fears of being deported. California’s governor signed a number of new bills into law this week, including one that stops police from detaining undocumented immigrants who provide information in criminal investigations, but are not considered to be active participants in the alleged crime. An overview of the new law, as well as a discussion of when police are generally permitted to detain a person in connection with a crime, will follow below.
New Law on Detention of Undocumented Immigrants
Under the provisions of the new law, victims of crimes and individuals seeking to cooperate or provide information related to the commission of a crime cannot be detained by police or turned over to federal immigration officials solely on the basis of suspected violations of immigration laws. The only circumstance under which police may hold someone purely based on immigration violations is if there is a warrant. In addition, a person may be held if he/she has been charged or convicted of a crime. In essence, the new law seeks to encourage cooperation between undocumented immigrants and the police to help community relations and promote more effective investigations into incidents of alleged criminal activity.
Police Detention Generally
The U.S. Constitution guarantees all Americans the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, and requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant issued by a court before taking action. This means the police must have enough evidence to convince a judge that a person was more likely than not involved in a crime for a warrant to be issued. However, following decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, principally Terry v. Ohio issued in 1968, police are permitted to detain a person without a warrant or arrest under certain circumstances. The Terry case focuses on what is a reasonable search and seizure, and distinguishes the difference between a reasonable belief and a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is or was taking place. A reasonable belief is probable cause, and authorizes an officer to make an arrest or conduct a more extensive investigation. A reasonable belief exists when a reasonable and prudent officer would believe a person was involved in criminal activity under the circumstances. A reasonable suspicion, on the other hand, allows police to stop a person for brief period of time when a violation of the law is suspected, but not enough information is available to connect them with criminal involvement. An experienced criminal defense attorney will know if probable cause existed to arrest, or if a reasonable suspicion was present to temporarily stop a person, and if not, ask the judge to exclude the evidence as the product of an illegal search or arrest.
Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
Police do not have the right to arbitrarily stop and hold you without sufficient cause. If you were illegally detained or arrested, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are fully protected. Manshoory Law Group, APC represents individuals accused of crimes in Los Angeles, and can help guide you through the criminal justice system. Attorneys are available 24/7 to take your call. Contact us for a free consultation.
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