A decision to throw out an important piece of evidence in a Baton Rouge DWI trial could have a significant effect on future cases. The case involves a drunk-driving charge stemming from a sobriety checkpoint set up back in December 2010. According to the judge that checkpoint was unconstitutional.
Because of the decision, any evidence police gathered from the checkpoint is inadmissible in court. In addition to targeting that specific checkpoint as illegal, the judge ruled that all checkpoints conducted since 2010 are illegal.
In order to be constitutional, sobriety checkpoints cannot make use of any officers involved in the decision of when and where the checkpoint will be conducted. This, however, is exactly what happened in that case. The defense attorney in the case also argues that officers violated regulations governing the location, time and duration of the checkpoint.
City prosecutors are currently planning on appealing the decision, so the ruling may not be the end of the story. It is important to take away, though, that police are bound by multiple rules when investigating suspected criminal activity. When they fail to abide by these rules, they harm their own ability to prosecute the case.
Defendants who find themselves in a case in which police have acted improperly should seek out an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help them to determine the best way to proceed. It may be possible to have evidence thrown out, and thereby increase the chance of a favorable outcome in the criminal case.
Source: Source: WAFB, “Judge: Baton Rouge Police DWI checkpoint unconstitutional,” Jim Shannon, May 21, 2013.