Upholding the Fourth Amendment
There are times when it can seem to some Americans that the U.S. Constitution gets in the way of justice. For example, think of our First Amendment right to free speech. It sometimes protects people who say offensive things, just as it also protects the rights of organizations to “peaceably…assemble” and express their views, even if many consider the organizations hateful.
Sometimes the Fourth Amendment can irk people, too. Its protections against “unreasonable searches and seizures” sometimes mean that evidence can’t be used by prosecutors in court against defendants. In all of these examples, our rights as Americans to have and express our opinions, and to be secure in our homes from arbitrary searches by government are protected by our Constitution and our willingness to uphold it.
Not long ago, a Florida man who potentially faced decades in prison if convicted of child pornography possession had all charges against him dropped by prosecutors – even though police investigators said they found in the man’s home substantial evidence that he had downloaded child porn.
An appeals court recently upheld a ruling that police had conducted an illegal search of the man’s home after they had initially gone to his neighbor’s house with a search warrant to look for child porn. While officers didn’t find pornography at the neighbor’s house, they did find a wireless router that the two neighbors shared.
Investigators proceeded to the defendant’s house, where they apparently convinced him to allow them to enter without a search warrant. The man later testified that he felt pressured by officers who told him they would enter the premises with or without his permission.
A court later ruled that evidence obtained in the illegal search could not be used against the man and a Florida appeals court upheld the decision. That prompted prosecutors to drop all charges.
The Fourth Amendment protections that safeguard all Americans were upheld by the court after the defendant’s Naples attorney successfully demonstrated how they applied in this case.
The attorney did his job, advocating persuasively for protection of his client, and the courts did their jobs, upholding the Constitution for the protection of all of us.
At The Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz, our mission is to use the law to protect and defend our clients.