Police officers in Louisiana are held to a high standard and are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times. When they make mistakes, you can suffer serious consequences like a jail term and hefty fines and could even destroy other areas of your life like your credibility and reputation. But if you can identify their procedural errors, you can have the case thrown out in court.
Error 1: Lack of reasonable suspicion
The police need more than just a “hunch” to pull you over. They must have reasonable suspicion that you committed, are committing, or are about to commit a crime. This means they must have specific and articulable facts to support their belief. If the police stop you without reasonable suspicion, any evidence they find as a result of the stop may not be used against you in court.
Error 2: Lack of probable cause
Probable cause is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion. The police must have some evidence (it mustn’t be conclusive) that shows you committed a crime before they can arrest you or search your property without your consent.
Error 3: Miranda Rights violations
If you are arrested, the police must read you your Miranda rights before they can question you about the crime. Your Miranda rights include the right to remain silent and the right to a criminal defense attorney. If they don’t say these words, any statements you make may not be used against you in court.
Error 4: Mishandled evidence
A police officer must follow proper procedures when collecting, storing and handling evidence before and after your case is finished. For example, if they collect DNA evidence from a crime scene, they must take steps to ensure that the DNA sample is not contaminated. This also applies when the case is over because the same evidence can be used during the appeal process.
While no one wants to find themselves on the wrong end of police procedures, it happens quite often. Some even end up spending years in prison if they can’t prove their innocence. However, if you understand your rights, you can be able to review the facts of your case and determine if a dismissal is possible.