The Scope of Search Warrants – Robert Kraft
Recently, a Florida Appeals court ruled that the video surveillance evidence obtained against New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, was inadmissible in the case against him. Following this ruling the local prosecutor’s office in Florida withdrew the charges against Kraft because the lack of video evidence made a conviction very unlikely.
What happened in the Robert Kraft Case?
Kraft’s criminal defense lawyer obtained this legal victory through a motion to suppress the warrant on the basis that it exceeded the scope of legality and therefore violated his constitutional rights under the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution. While most people do not equate video or other recordings as a search, it is no different than the police search of a home, place of business, or other area searched with a warrant. In the Kraft case, police installed video surveillance in the day spa where Kraft allegedly committed criminal acts with alleged prostitutes. The Florida court ruled that police failed to ensure that the video minimized the intrusion on non-criminal activity of patrons there to receive legal services such as massages.
According to Kraft’s attorneys, the alleged video evidence exceeded the scope of the polices warrant and therefore, all contents of the video should have been suppressed as fruit of the poisonous tree.
Probable Cause & Search Warrants
Its important to understand that, to obtain a warrant in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, police need probable cause. Probable cause is the reasonable belief that a crime is or has occurred in the area to be searched based on the officer’s observations, training, education, and experience. Without probable cause, police can’t obtain a warrant. Searches of homes and places of business are different than other areas because a person has the highest expectation of privacy in their home or residence. Warrantless searches are permissible in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Wire Tap Communications & Search Warrants
In addition to the ability to install video surveillance equipment, law enforcement is permitted to intercept conversations if they have probable cause to believe that the conversation contains criminal activity and at least one party to the conversation consents to it. This is a very powerful police tactic and if you are charged with any crime involving surveillance, it is very important that your attorney consider a motion to suppress evidence based on your rights under the US and State Constitutions. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey provide extra protections against the invasion of privacy and no state can provide less protection that what is contained in the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution.
Like the Kraft case, if your criminal defense attorney is able to suppress incriminating evidence contained in any type of video surveillance, wiretap, or an illegal search, the prosecution will more than likely need to dismiss or withdraw charges against you in any criminal case, but especially those involving illegal guns, firearms, drugs, or any type of possessory crime. A motion to suppress is a pre-trial motion and your criminal defense lawyer must assert your rights before trial or risk waiving them. For more information on illegal search and seizure contact our criminal defense law firm.
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