Skip to comments.Supreme Court to Consider Whether Police Ignorance of the Law Justifies Stop
Posted on 10/03/2014 10:53:01 AM PDT by Citizen Zed
On Monday, October 6, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a North Carolina case that asks whether a traffic stop based on a police officers mistaken understanding of traffic laws violates the Fourth Amendments prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.
A friend-of-the-court brief submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Cato Institute argues that a mistake of law can never supply the reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing that the Fourth Amendment requires in order to justify a traffic stop.
"Ignorance of the law is not an excuse for motorists, and it shouldnt be an excuse for the police, either," said ACLU-NC Legal Director Chris Brook.
The defendant, Nicholas Heien, was the passenger in a car that was stopped by the police because the car, which he owned, had only one working tail light, which the police officer mistakenly believed was a violation of North Carolina law. (One working tail light is legal in North Carolina.) After conducting a search, police subsequently found cocaine and charged Heien with drug trafficking.
(Excerpt) Read more at aclu.org ...
Why is this even a question?
Sounds like a bunch of black-robed clowns need the Fourth Amendment explained to them with a nail-studded 2 by 4.
That doesn't even go far enough to cover it.
The citizen is assumed to be an innocent minding his own business. The police officer is an agent of the state. More accountability to the officer.
The citizen is not in a law-related profession, the policeman is. More accountability to the professional than to the amateur.
The officer initiates the encounter. The citizen would have merely driven merrily on his way. Greater accountability should attach to the person taking the initiative and initiating contact.
It was a good stop. Why North Carolina has bad laws on the books (Only one working tail light is legal?) is a matter to be resolved, but it was a good and valid reason to stop.
But since it wasn’t a LEGAL stop, then yeah. Drug delaer gets a ‘get out of jail free’ card.
Because a tremendous number of laws that people obey and, especially, pay money for, simply do not apply to them. But the government is not required to tell you that, AND they can "presume" these laws apply to you and then just enforce them, unless you can show they don't apply to you. And then in order to show them that they on't apply - if you even know that - they make you jumpt through all sorts of hoops to shown them in a way where they are required to "hear" you.
It's major, major bullshit.
So what this particular case is about is whether cops can be denied a very powerful part of their "presumption" against you - mainly, whether they can presume a law applies even if they get the law wrong. You might think that's crazy that they can presume a wrongful understanding of the law, and you're right. But it's done every day, and one of the things Courts do if you point out the damn presumption was over an incorrect understanding of the law is shrug, and say, "irrelevent - the cop has the right to presume, and is not presumed to be a lawyer themselves." Which, o course, means that cops can and do make up literally anything, call it their understanding of the law, and arrest you or seize things from you or bea the crap out of you or whatever.
So this case is a really big deal, and it's reached the Supreme Court because no lower court wants to take away these extreme police powers. Ultimately what is at issue is whether the police even have to follow the law at all, or if they literally are the law themselves. Because if they can enforce based on presuming things are the law that aren't the law, that's just another way of saying there is no law.
Ignorance of the law will not protect you if you’re caught violating it in the civilian world. It should apply to cops as well. But, I believe in the Rule of Law and not selective enforcement that is so popular to day.
“Ignorance of the law is not an excuse for motorists, and it shouldnt be an excuse for the police, either,”
I can’t imagine anyone arguing otherwise.
Or a 1.5" x 3.5" if you're in California.
The stop was unlawful. The subsequent search was unlawful.
“Case dismissed, with Prejudice”.
Officers haven’t some mysterious “get out of jail free” card for violating the law.
They are enforcers of the law and once they go beyond that, they are then sanctionable....
If the officer was having a bad, pulled the driver from the vehicle and gave him a hickory stick shampoo, would he be justified saying “I didn’t know it was unlawful?”.
How many times has a cop or judge told a regular peon ‘citizen’: “Ignorance of the law is no excuse” - and now they have the gall to ASK this question?
I predict the state will win (big leap there), and Scalia’s decision will be one of his “but the cops wouldn’t like it” jobs. Thomas will probably dissent, but for some reason he gets the same number of votes as everyone else on the court.
Also, how could a cop in North Carolina, a cop enforcing traffic laws, NOT know that it is legal to operate a car with only one working taillight in that state?
I think the cop is a bald-faced liar.
I am generally pro-law enforcement however, in this case I have to side with the ACLU. If there is no legal probable cause, anything obtained from the stop is poisoned fruit and should not be admissible.
“Ignorance of the law is no excuse.” Now, where have I heard this before, and why is there even any question that this also applies to police officers?
yes...this is troubling. That will give even more of a hammer blow on these 1983 cases where cops are ignorant of the law the person ends up in the slammer and has to hire an attorney to clear their name. It’s not just going to effect the bad guys it will really hamper first amendment rights of protesters also. We don’t want any more outs for cops. We want cops trained on the bill of rights and case law.
I find it amazing that the most obvious, common-sense situations are up for grabs by the black-robed idiots. Only lawyers can obfuscate common sense with all their jots and tittles, and this is one big reason why this nation is so screwed up, with layers upon layers of legal barnacles encrusting basic laws and common sense.
yeah... you go..
constitution only applies to those that do not use drugs..
in your mind, hitler and stalin had it right...
go over to communism is the way to go dot com..
they will welcome you with open arms
As is evident by your reply, you don’t write very well. And obviously you don’t read well either, or you would not made such blatherings.
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