Opinion: Unlawful

POSTED: 10/13/11 12:33 PM

It’s not as if the defendant hadn’t done it. The point is that he could have gotten away with it if he had been just a little bit smarter. Instead, the Court in First Instance sentenced him yesterday to nine months imprisonment.
What happened? Neighborhood residents in Mary’s Fancy reported a “suspicious car” in their vicinity on June 13. It was a Monday, not a Friday, but still the driver of this car definitely will not remember it as a lucky day.
On the contrary. Police officers went to the scene, spotted the car and stopped it. Attentive police work, most people would say.
But in court, Judge Keppels ruled yesterday that stopping this car based on the information the police had at its disposal (a suspicious car in Mary’s fancy) was unlawful.
Had the driver known this, he would never have made this crucial mistake: he allowed the police officers to search his car.
And the officers soon learned why the car was labeled suspicious. Under the seats were a laptop and a bag filled to the brim with loose coins, as well as a camera. All this stuff stemmed from a burglary at a house on the Blue Bell drive. Bingo.
The defendant’s attorney argued that, because his client had been stopped by the police unlawfully, that the evidence officers found in the car had to be excluded.
That’s where the judge split.
Yes, stopping the car had been unlawful. But afterwards, the defendant had given the officers permission to search the car.
What would the police have done if the defendant had been on the ball and said something like, hey, you stop me for no reason and now you want to search my car? Go away! I don’t accept that.
We’re not too sure about the way police officers react in such a situation, but we are pretty sure that, no matter what they would have done, the defendant would have had a stronger case in court, and the evidence would not have been admitted.

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