How Do My Civil Rights Intersect with Criminal Law?

The criminal justice system aims to be fair and protect citizens’ rights, but sometimes at the cost of violating their civil liberties. The criminal justice system starts with the police­­­—the frontrunners in protecting the accused individual’s rights. These include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney derived from the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution, as well as general criminal law constructs, including the probable cause requirement and search warrants in certain situations.

Some localities, such as Ferguson, Missouri, have been highlighted as allegedly using excessive force during arrest based on race and arresting citizens without probable cause. The city reportedly is under negotiations with the Justice Department, which may result in new training for police officers and improved record-keeping, and would install a federal monitor to ensure those changes were made. With federal monitoring, cities will be more vigilant in protecting citizens’ civil liberties.

Admission of evidence when constitutional guidelines have not been met can also violate one’s civil liberties. Police must have probable cause when arresting an individual. If the arrest is not based on probable cause or an exception, all evidence seized is not admissible in a criminal court. Additionally, if evidence is found inadmissible because of the illegality of the stop or arrest, the doctrine of “fruit of the poisonous tree” will apply, which dictates that any evidence derived from an illegal search or seizure is inadmissible.

If you feel your civil rights have been violated during an arrest or during a search and seizure of your home or personal belongings, contact Wendy Pelle-Beer & Associates for legal guidance. Criminal charges can result in serious consequences and impact your life in multiple ways. Contact Wendy Pelle-Beer & Associates at (718) 313-0770 for the representation you deserve.

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