James M. “Matt” Stiller, Jr.
June 20, 2019
From time to time, people have made comments to me about getting criminal defendants and DUI defendants off on “technicalities”. This kind of comment typically reveals a common misunderstanding the general public has about defense lawyers and what they do.
Defense lawyers can be seen as getting guilty people off on technicalities. But a more educated and intelligent view is that (a) The United States of America is governed by a Constitution that contains a Bill of Rights, (b) when cops violate Citizens’ constitutional rights, evidence must be tossed out or excluded, and (c) the risk of evidence being excluded tends to keep the police interested in doing a good job but stopping short of violating the Constitution.
A recent article in a Canadian publication shows just how important our Constitutional rights really are. In the USA, the cops need to have a good reason to pull you over and ask you to take a breathalyzer. They can’t just stop you for no reason because you have a Constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. But in Canada, apparently, the police can stop you without suspicion of wrongdoing – they can even stop by your house hours after you’re done driving – and force you to take a breathalyzer!
That’s what happened to a woman in British Columbia, Canada. She drove home, sat by the pool and had a few beers. Royal Canadian Mounted Police showed up a few hours later and forced her to take a breathalyzer. Of course, she ended up on the wrong end of a drunk driving case! The cops weren’t willing to examine the empties and see that she hadn’t been drunk driving. It appears she was able to give the evidence to the court and prove her innocence – of course, this is after she paid thousands in attorney’s fees and other costs! Check out the article here.
So next time you hear someone complaining about cops getting criminals off on technicalities, remind them that those technicalities are our – all of our – Constitutional rights!
God Bless America.