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Friday, August 30, 2013

When Can Police Conduct a Pat Frisk?

Before the police can conduct a pat frisk, there must first be a lawful investigative stop. Police are allowed to temporarily detain a person or stop a car when there is reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed. The standard is less than the probable cause required for an arrest but more than a mere whim or idle curiosity. The Fourth Amendment prohibits any unreasonable search and seizure. If the investigative stop is determined by a judge to be unlawful, any evidence seized by the police as a result of a pat frisk is inadmissible in court
What if the investigative stop by the police was lawful, can they still  conduct a pat frisk? Yes, but only under limited circumstances. The police must have a reasonable suspicion that a person is armed and dangerous. If there is a reasonable suspicion that a person may be armed and dangerous, police may conduct a pat-down of a person's outer clothing to discover any weapons that may be used to assault the officer or any person  standing nearby. The reason behind the pat frisk law is to allow the officer to continue the  investigation  without fear of physical harm.
What factors would justify an officer in conducting a protective weapons search?  A suspect's appearance and actions are  important factors. For  example, a  bulge in a coat pocket in the shape of a gun or evasive conduct by the suspect could justify a pat frisk. The officer's knowledge of the suspect's criminal history is also a factor such as  a prior conviction for a violent crime. The neighborhood and time of day of the investigative stop may also be  factors. The type of crime for which a suspect is stopped may lead an officer to believe that a person is armed and dangerous. Crimes such as  robbery, burglary, rape, and high volume drug trafficking crimes  often justify a protective weapons search by  police.
A pat search for weapons must be limited to the outer area of a person's clothing. The scope of the search is limited to an attempt to discover guns, clubs, knives or any hidden item that could pose a threat to officer safety. If the officer detects an object thought to be a weapon, he would be justified in reaching into the suspect's clothing or a pocket to remove the item.
What if the officer exceeds the lawful scope of a pat frisk and removes contraband? The search and seizure would be deemed unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment and the evidence  inadmissible in court. If you have been a victim of an illegal pat frisk by the police, call Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane now for a free phone consultation  at (612) 339-1024.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Do I have a Right to Make a Phone Call from Jail?

Yes, any person who is newly admitted as an inmate to a jail facility in Minnesota has a right to make either a local or collect long-distance phone call. The right to make a phone call from jail allows you to contact either a family member or a significant other and applies during the admission process. Inmates are also allowed to keep in contact with family members or significant others during their jail confinement. These calls must be collect calls and the minimum amount of time allowed per phone call is 10 minutes.
What about making a call to an attorney? Police officers are required by Minnesota law to provide a person who is in custody with private telephone access to an attorney who is either retained or to whom the restrained person is interested in consulting at no charge to the inmate or to the attorney. Police officers are required to provide reasonable phone access at the request of the person. The phone consultation with an attorney must take place before any other proceedings in the case, including a court appearance.
Is there a criminal penalty for failure to comply with the law? Yes, it's a misdemeanor offense for a police officer to deny phone access to any person who is restrained in a local jail facility.