Constitutional Law and the Criminal Justice System

(A) What arguments could you make to keep the drugs from being entered as evidence at trial? Clearly, the manner of seizure of evidence is in violation of the person’s constitutionally guaranteed rights, particularly the fourth and sixth amendments. The fourth amendment guarantees a person’s right against unreasonable searches and seizures. Such amendment implies the necessity of search warrants, only issued upon finding of probable cause which is to be determined only be a judge.

The sixth amendment guarantees a person’s right to counsel during investigation. (Cogan, 1997) In this case, no search warrant was presented to the accused. There was not even an attempt to obtain a search warrant. Such is an indication that the investigators could not find probable cause (yet) to justify the release of a search warrant. Evidently what was done was a mere fishing expedition in order to obtain incriminating evidence against the accused. By that alone, the evidence obtained could not be used against the accused.

The case also showed no circumstances to justify an exception to the search warrant requirement. The plain view exception is not applicable. The evidence was clearly not in plain view as it was inside the luggage of the accused and the accused showed no sign or actions that would indicate or even at least cause a reasonable belief that he is in possession of the illegal paraphernalia; the investigators were not certain of the existence of the drugs in the trunk; if they were, they would have tried to secure a valid search warrant.

The “search with consent” exception is also inapplicable since consent must be given by the owner of the thing searched or seized (US v. Matlock, 1974). In this case, the consent was given by the cab driver and not the accused . The confession made cannot be used as evidence for the trial. First, it is done without allowing the accused to consult with his counsel. This is a clear violation of the sixth amendment which automatically makes the evidence obtained inadmissible as evidence.

This is true even with the waiver of Miranda Rights. Not only were the Miranda rights waived without clear understanding, and therefore, without consent or any waiver at all, the fact that the accused asked for his attorney and was refused is enough to warrant inadmissibility of evidence. True, rights may be waived but in this case, the right to have an attorney is automatically regained once demanded. (Cogan, 1997) (B) What arguments could you make to get the drugs admitted as evidence at trial?

One exception to the warrant requirement is the automobile exception. This exception allows agents to search vehicles without a warrant upon reasonable belief or probable cause to believe that a certain vehicle contains evidence or contraband (Harr and Hess, 2005) The exception is based on vehicles’ natural mobility; the amount of time required to get a warrant reduces the chances of getting hold of the evidence or the person of the accused.

According to Robins v. California (1981), the mobility of vehicles not only produces exigent circumstances but allows diminished expectations of privacy. These are in addition to the fact that vehicles are not residences but are used for transportation which is highly regulated by the government. In this case, the investigators, upon belief that the accused has contraband, searched the cab ridden by the accused.

In addition, the fact that the accused made his confession after he was read of his Miranda Rights and before the start of the interrogation means that he knew about his right to remain silent and to a counsel before his confession (Cogan, 1997)

References

Cogan N (1997) The Complete Bill of Rights: The Drafts, Debates, Sources, and Origins. Oxford University Press: NY. Harr J and Hess K (2005). Constitutional Law and the Criminal Justice System. Thomson Wadsworth: US. Robins v. California. 453 US 420 (1981) US v. Matlock 415 U. S. 164 (1974)