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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 26776
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Can an undercover police car without video follow my son approx.

Resolved Question:

Can an undercover police car without video follow my son approx. 10 blocks, thru 4-5 turns ram the back bumper of his car when he pulled in my driveway and pull him out of his car without identifying themselves and then completely toss the interior of his car screaming about drugs when he was clean? He had been out the nighte before at a party and walked to get his car in the morning from where he left it at work. The police report claims they had badges out in the driveway of my home -- the video from the marked car that pulled in approx 10 min. later (not the 1 min as stated in the report) shows no badges. There are several outright lies in the police report. The court apt. lawyer is not interested in the civil rights -- " I focus on the criminal aspect of cases assigned by the court. If you want to hire the firm to protest the rights issues thats different." How can LE violate so many rights and still get an arrest? How can a lawyer not fight to get it thrown out? Can we fight this
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.
This question has to be answered on two fronts:

1) Your son can be searched, arrested and prosecuted if the police and the state have probable cause. Probable cause only means that a crime may have been committed and that your son may have had something to do with it. It's a very low standard of proof. It doesn't mean that he will get convicted, which requires proof of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

I cannot tell from your post why the police believed your son was involved in drug activity. But I can assume that if the state is willing to prosecute, they have a good faith belief that your son may have been using, in possession of or dealing drugs -- perhaps a citizen complaint, or alleged eyewitness, or possible erratic driving when they were following him.

2) It certainly does look as if your son's civil rights may have been stepped on. That would not immediately result in the dismissal of the charges unless when the prosecutor evaluated the case, the state felt that there was no probable cause upon which to go forward. However it would be grounds for your son's attorney to file a motion for pre-trial hearings which would explore all of the circumstances leading up to and including the police behavior. At those hearings the police would testify and attempt to justify their activities as supported by probable cause. Your son's lawyer could then cross-examine the officers to show that the officers went well beyond what was proper under all the circumstances. If the judge agreed with you, any evidence seized by the improper activities would be suppressed.

Finally, your son may be able to sue the county for his arrest and/or for the violation of his constutional rights, but he will first have to deal with his ciminal matter. Any finding of guilt, any plea he might take, would undercut such a suit.

I am about to leave for the dentist. If you require follow-up, I will be back later this afternoon.


If I've helped, please click the green Accept button so I can get credit for my work.

This thread will not close and you can always use it to get clarification.This is informational only and is NOT legal advice.
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you for the quick answer. I an dissapointed in what has to be done to keep LEO on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately in a small town everyone under the age of 25 is fair game for knowing someone either dealing or involved with drugs. Without $$$ to fight the civil rights violations it looks like he is pretty well up a creek. He will go to pretrial today and knowing this town if he fights this it will only make LE more determined to harrass him. This is not the first time he (we) have had problems with city police. We have the wrong last name in this town. To many relatives that are bad apples. But, I appreciate the speed and clarity of your answer.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 7 years ago.

Thank for accepting the answer.

I knew you wouldn't be thrilled with the news, especially as the police certainly seemed overzealous in your posted facts. They can get away with an awful lot, in big cities as well as small town, because judges and prosecutors give them a lot of latitude. Police frequently have to act fast to stop something that doesn't look right to them. We are all grateful for that most times, preferring them (in theory anyway) to be too vigilant rather than not vigilant enough.

We can hold police to standards by challenging them at hearings and by going after them civilly, but unfortunately a criminal case that may be wrongfully brought, stays alive in the meantime. Small towns are particularly problematic. When everyone knows everyone else, standing up to the authorities to protect your own rights can be seen as a personal affront.
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