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United States Supreme Court Limits The Use Of Drug Sniffing Dogs

criminal defense lawyerIn a decision of first impression, the Supreme Court of the United States has recently ruled police officers cannot take a drug sniffing dogs onto the property of a potential suspect without a search warrant. Police organizations are concerned this will limit their ability to use drug smelling dogs to locate illegal narcotics.

Evidence Seized, Thrown Out Of Court

Justice Antonin Scalia, in the Supreme Court’s ruling, stated the Fourth Amendment of the United States constitution guarantees Americans the right to be free of government intrusion into their homes and in the areas surrounding their homes. He further stated “the police cannot, without a warrant based on probable cause, hang around on the lawn or in the side garden, trolling for evidence and perhaps peering into the windows of a home.”

Supreme Court Justice Scalia went on to say it was not the dog that was the problem “but the behavior here that involved the use of the dog.” “We think a typical person would find it is a cause for great alarm to find a stranger snooping on his front porch with or without a warrant.”

The case involved Miami-Dade Police Department and Federal DEA agents investigating a marijuana growing operation in Florida. The defense counsel for the individual charged with possessing marijuana plants argued the dogs sniffing outside the door of the home where the marijuana plants were located was an unconstitutional intrusion by law enforcement officers into the home without a search warrant. In this case, the United States Supreme Court agreed.

About The Author

help in criminal courtElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. and his staff of criminal attorneys have been representing individuals charged with crimes, investigated regarding crimes and arrested for more than 35 years. The office offers free consultations to prospective clients. The office phones are monitored 7 days a week and the law firm can be reached at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

Evidence Found after Questioning a Suspect Without “Founded Suspicion” Inadmissible

criminal defenseA man had parked his car illegally. A Police officer walked up to the car. He asked the man if he should be aware of anything in the car. The man consented to a search of the car. The police officer found a handgun in the car.

The issue presented to an Appellate Court in upstate New York was “[did the police officer have] reasonable suspicion to make the inquiry?” The Appeals court found there was none. The Court said the police must have “founded suspicion” of a crime before asking a motorist if he or she has a firearm. As a result, the Appeals Court threw out the search for the handgun. The handgun could not be used as evidence of the illegal possession of the weapon.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution establishes a standard police must meet before intruding into the personal space of Americans. The Fourth Amendment specifically protects Americans from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The court’s decision specifically stated while the police officer had an “objective credible reason” for approaching the illegally parked car he was not justified in making an inquiry about the contents of the vehicle without a “founded suspicion that criminal activity is afoot.”

About the Author

assistance in criminal mattersElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. and his associates provide criminal defense legal services for individuals being investigated and charged with crimes throughout the metropolitan New York area. Our law firm is available seven days a week to assist our clients. Call for a free consultation.

Keeping Your Emails Private When David Patraeus, the Head of the CIA, Couldn’t

nassau attorneyToday Americans communicate billions of times a day through e-mail and text messaging. Today, the most private pieces of information are communicated by using cell phones. Americans often communicate their private information through e-mail and text message. How can we keep these matters private? Do Americans have a right to privacy over their emails and text messages?

David H. Patraeus, the Director Of The Central Intelligence Agency, Couldn’t Keep His Emails Secret

Mr. Patraeus used emails to communicate with his mistress. Unfortunately for Mr. Patraeus, he was caught. Most Americans underestimate how easy it is for third parties to obtain access of their e-mails and text messages. Digital communications can be intercepted. Individuals can hack into your e-mails and text messages and spy on the most important issues involving your life. Today, hacking into the emails and text messages is not that difficult! It happens to Americans all the time. Government agencies have searched and subpoena powers with regard to information maintained on your computer, on your emails, stored on your cloud or maintained in cyberspace. Lawyers in civil litigation can get to virtually all this information through the discovery legal process.

Skeletons In Your Closet

Is there a way to make your e-mails so private that no one will ever find out what is in them? The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution deals with search and seizure issues. Police officers and State and Federal investigatory agencies (such as the FBI) need a court order to search your home or where you live. However, the rules concerning searches of emails are not as strong. Under the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (a Federal statute), Federal agencies do not need a warrant to obtain emails six months old or older. Federal agencies only need to obtain search warrants for emails that are “unopened”.

In 2012, Google reported law enforcement agencies requested data on 16,281 accounts between January and June. Google complied with 90% of these requests!

Encryption Of E-mail Messages

There are encrypting services. GPG is a company that can help you encrypt your e-mails. WICKR, a mobile app, provides a similar service with regard to the encryption of emails. This app can be utilized on smart phones. However, metadata, even for deleted files, remains on the phone’s hard drive. Forensics specialist and hackers can still obtain this information.

Privacy In Emails

The best way to maintain the privacy of your most private thoughts is to never put them in writing.

About The Author

long island attorneyElliot S. Schlissel is an attorney with more than 35 years of experience who handles criminal defense matters, divorces and father’s rights issues.

Stop And Frisk Searches Thrown Out By Courts In New York – Part I

criminal defense assistanceIn July of 2012, two New York State Appellate Courts threw out searches related to stop and frisk situations by the police. The searches resulted in the police finding loaded guns. However, the Courts held, just because teenagers are nervous in high crime areas this is not a sufficient basis for the police to stop and frisk them. In each of these cases, the guns were suppressed and could not be admitted into evidence by the prosecutors.

New York City Police Departments Utilization Of Stop And Frisk Tactics

There is a debate going on in New York City. This debate deals with the propriety of stop and frisk techniques used by New York City police officers in high crime areas. This year, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City, has taken the position stop and frisk procedures are an effective means of reducing crime and prosecuting criminals. A New York Daily News editorial stated “the courts are going to get people killed. Judges are risking New Yorker’s lives by barring police from taking even the most reasonable actions to prevent crime.”

In the past, courts have deferred to police officers with regard to dangerous street situations. The courts in New York are now taking a more active role in setting standards as to when police officers can intrude into the personal lives of New Yorkers by stopping them and frisking them for weapons.

Defense attorneys today are arguing more often the propriety of searches related to a stop and frisk situations violates the individual’s rights to unreasonable searches under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and also violates New York State law.criminal search and seizure

Interrogation of Child Abuse Victims

The United States Supreme Court recently had before them the case of Camreta v. Green, 131 S. Ct. 456 (2010). In this case, the issue presented was whether the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires government officials to obtain a search warrant or parental permission before they can interrogate a suspected child abuse victim. The second issue was whether an official who fails to obtain a search warrant or permission of the parents can be held liable for violation of civil rights laws.

Child Protection Agencies claim that they need to investigate abuse cases without giving prior notification to the possible perpetrators of these acts. In this case, the social worker, Bob Camreta, conducted an interrogation of a child at the child’s school. This was done without a warrant. The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit held that this warrantless interrogation violated the Fourth Amendment rights of the child. The court also stated that Mr. Camreta was protected by a qualified immunity from being held personally liable for civil damages under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Law.

Child Abuse Allegations In New York

Here’s how the system works in New York: Someone files a complaint with the New York State Child Protective Services (CPS). A local investigator comes to the house and insists on seeing the child. If the parent or guardian refuses to let the investigator see the child, the investigator claims he’s going to get a court order. He threatens to take the child away from the parents. Although the Child Protection Agency seeks to protect children, in New York, they often violate the Fourth Amendment rights of the parents and the child.

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Fathers’ Rights

We protect fathers’ rights in divorce situations. We litigate spousal maintenance issues (alimony), child support, child custody, child visitation and we deal with the equitable distribution of property issues in divorces. We also negotiate separation agreements on behalf of our clients. Should the mother seek to leave the state with the child, we litigate relocation problems.

When our clients lose their jobs or have reduced income, we bring applications to reduce child support payments. We also educate our clients with regard to the new no-fault divorce law. In contested, nasty divorces, we deal with issues involving parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome caused by one parent making negative statements about the other parent to the children. Should you have a Family Court or divorce issue, feel free to call us for a free consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

Can the Police Search Your Cell Phone Without a Warrant?

police-search-cell-phone-unreasonable-ohio-smithIn Ohio, cell phones protected by the 4th amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure by the government.

In a recent decision, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that police officers need to obtain a warrant in order to search a cell phone. This decision by the Ohio Supreme Court takes into consideration the fact that cell phones today go far beyond the means of basic communication. They are mini computers that store large amounts of personal information. From this point forward, the personal information becomes a protected privacy right, at least in the State of Ohio.

Although most searches require warrants, police officers are allowed to search their immediate surroundings when dealing with potential arrests for their own self protection. The Ohio case involves a man named Antwaun Smith. He was arrested on drug charges. At the time of his arrest his cell phone was ceased and later it was searched. The police found information important to their investigation on his cell phone calling records.

The recent ruling of the Ohio State Supreme Court was a divided 4/3 vote. The decision indicated that Mr. Smith’s protection against unreasonable search and seizures under the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution were violated. The court, in its decision stated that cell phones are “capable of storing a wealth of digitized information”. The court’s decision indicated that individuals using cell phones have an expectation of privacy which is protected by the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution.?

The Ohio court’s ruling creates a new type of privacy. As hand-held devices become more and more sophisticated, they will contain more and more personal information. Individuals rights of privacy in devices that are basically hand-held mini computers should be protected by the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution. I have every hope that when a case presents itself, the NY Court of Appeals will make a similar ruling that respects individuals rights of privacy against unreasonable searches and seizures of all types of hand-held telephones and computer devices.

Should you, a friend or a loved one be subject to what amounts to be an unreasonable search, the criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo can use their expertise and diligence to protect your rights and the rights of a friend or a loved one. E-mail or call us at 1-800-344-6431.

Picture courtesy of the Daily Iowan.

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