The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola


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Posted on in Search Warrant

drones used in Illinois, Kane County criminal lawyerNew technology is constantly revolutionizing the way that police do their jobs, and that means that the law has to keep up in order to protect people's civil rights. One of the most common places where new technology butts up against people's rights is in the area of searches. The Fourth Amendment provides citizens with protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, but it does not define unreasonable. Over the years, courts have had to deal with wiretaps, heat vision, and GPS trackers, just to name a few pieces of technology.

Now, a new technology is creating another future Fourth Amendment issue: police drones. Police have had access to aerial surveillance for decades, but drones are different. Ordinary aerial surveillance is expensive. It requires helicopters and officers and a good deal of time and money. Drones make those searches much easier and cheaper.

Drones and the Fourth Amendment

The Supreme Court has yet to deal with the issue of drones, but it has handled other types of aerial surveillance. The Court has heard several cases on ordinary aerial searches, usually in the context of a police helicopter that spotted a person growing marijuana. These cases resulted in something known as the "flyover exception" to the Fourth Amendment.

Fourth Amendment law is based largely on whether the person had a "reasonable expectation of privacy." With regard to aerial searches, the Court reasoned that something that could be spotted by anyone who happened flying overhead could not be reasonably expected to be private. This meant that it was not an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment, so the police did not need a warrant.

However, it is not clear that that same logic would apply to drone searches. The court has already had to grapple with how to deal with a piece of technology that makes an ordinary search much easier, the GPS tracker. The Court ruled that attaching a GPS tracker to a person's car was a search that needed a warrant, even though a police department could theoretically assign an officer to follow the car around all the time without a warrant.

Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act

Although it is unclear where the Supreme Court will eventually come down on the use of drones by police, the Illinois state legislature has already acted. The Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act goes into effect this year. As the name suggests, it requires police to get a warrant before employing drones in a criminal investigation. However, A final Supreme Court ruling on the issue may still become important to Illinois residents; state laws change much more easily than the Constitution.

The law makes sure to protect the rights of defendants in criminal cases, but those rights are constantly changing. If you have recently been charged with a crime, contact a Kane County criminal defense attorney at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today to learn more about the protections available to you.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

police search warrant in Illinois, Elgin criminal defense lawyerThe U.S. Constitution provides people with a variety of rights and protections with relation to law enforcement and the criminal justice system. One of the most important of these rights is the protection from unlawful searches provided by the Fourth Amendment. Usually, what separates a lawful search from an unlawful one is whether the police had a warrant to perform the search. Whether a search is performed with a valid warrant can make all the difference in the outcome of a criminal case because of a legal doctrine known as the "exclusionary rule."

The exclusionary rule is a rule of evidence that governs whether the prosecutor is allowed to use evidence during a trial. Its name comes from the fact that it excludes any evidence that was recovered during an unlawful search. It also excludes from the trial any evidence that the police found because of evidence they uncovered during an illegal search. This rule is designed to discourage police from performing these sorts of searches because anything they discover will be useless to the prosecution at trial.

The Warrant Process

The warrant process is important because if it is not followed correctly then it can trigger the exclusionary rule. Warrants are legal documents issued by judges that give the police permission to search. This means that the police officers must speak to the judge and present that judge with evidence they already have about the crime. Their goal in doing this is to convince the judge that they have probable cause to believe that the search they want to perform will result in their finding the evidence of a crime. If they convince the judge of this, then the judge will issue a warrant. This warrant will give the police the right to perform a specific search, usually only looking for specific items at a specific location.

Reasons Warrants May Be Invalidated

Warrants can be invalidated through a variety of different issues, usually either because of problems with the process of how it was issued or of how the search was performed. Common issues with the process relate to the type of information that the police were giving the judge. For instance, if the police provide the judge with old information, then the warrant might be invalid since it would not relate to the likelihood that the search would actually turn up evidence of a crime. Conversely, an issue of execution would be exceeding the scope of the search warrant. If the police have a warrant to search for a large item, like a stolen flat screen TV, then opening drawers and finding drugs would exceed the warrant's scope.

If you have been charged with a crime after what you believe was an unlawful search, contact a Kane County criminal defense attorney today to learn more about your rights.

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dui checkpointIllinois is one of nine states receiving federal funding to participate in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's "No Refusal" initiative. The initiative centers around police setting up so-called No Refusal checkpoints, which are named as such because the police there have access to a streamlined procedure for acquiring search warrants. This allows them to perform blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests over a driver's objection. However, some states have refused to implement these DUI checkpoints, citing concerns that they may be violating their citizen's Fourth Amendment rights, which protect them from unreasonable searches and seizures. What No Refusal Checkpoints Are

When a person refuses to consent to a BAC test, the police have the option of seeking a warrant from a judge to get the person's blood tested to determine the individual’s alcohol level. No refusal checkpoints are named that way because of a specialized procedure that the police have available to them to order blood tests for drivers who refuse to take a Breathalyzer test. The judges, who are ordinarily on call, are made aware that they will be participating in a No Refusal weekend so that they can prepare to provide police with speedy access to warrants.

Additionally, during the operation of these checkpoints, many police stations will have a nurse on staff so that the blood test can be performed at the station rather than requiring the police to bring the person to a hospital. However, this new initiative is not without its controversy. In fact, 21 other states have the ability to access this program because they allow their police to get warrants via a phone call, but many are refusing to participate, citing concerns about the program's constitutionality because of how easily it provides police access to warrants.

Fourth Amendment Concerns

The constitutional concern that many people express arises out of the Fourth Amendment. This portion of the Constitution protects citizens from "unreasonable searches and seizures." In practice, this means that police usually need to acquire a warrant before they search a person or their belongings, and the use of a BAC tests counts as a search.

Some people are concerned that this No Refusal initiative undermines the protections of the Fourth Amendment because the court's issuing of search warrants should be a careful decision that weighs the need to prevent crime against the individual's right to privacy. This issue is also complicated by the fact that Illinois is an implied consent jurisdiction, which means that there are certain penalties that go along with refusing a BAC test, such as a license suspension.

If you have recently been charged with a DUI or some other criminal offense, contact an experienced Elgin criminal attorney. The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola can help protect your rights and your interests in court.
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