WHEN CAN MISCONDUCT BY AN OFFICER BE USED AGAINST THE OFFICER
March 2017, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided the Court Case United States v. Ray.
This case involved a traffic stop of Ray’s vehicle by police officer. During the stop and search incident to arrest, officer’s found drugs in Ray’s pocket.
In this court case, Ray argued that one of the officers on scene was subsequently forced to resign from the police department because of a pattern of stopping and questioning citizens without reasonable suspicion.
The United States Constitution guarantees us the right to unreasonable searches and seizure. Meaning that an officer must have probable cause or reason to stop and detain someone.
In the Ray case the District Court would not allow Ray to present evidence regarding the officer that was forced to leave the department.
It cited the following reasons:
First: a defendant must generally be permitted to introduce evidence directly pertaining to any of the actual elements of the charged offense or an affirmative defense.
Second: a defendant must generally be permitted to introduce evidence pertaining to collateral matters that, through a reasonable chain of inferences, could make the existence of one or more of the elements of the charged offense or an affirmative defense more or less certain.
Third: a defendant generally has the right to introduce evidence that is not itself tied to any of the elements of a crime or affirmative defense, but that could have a substantial impact on the credibility of an important government witness.
Fourth: a defendant must generally be permitted to introduce evidence that, while not directly or indirectly relevant to any of the elements of the charged events, nevertheless tends to place the story presented by the prosecution in a significantly different light, such that a reasonable jury might receive it differently.
The court also noted that, while generally they should allow a defendant to present his or her theory of defense, the evidence used to do so must be relevant. The court discussed the concept of relevance.
The court then examined the facts of the Ray case.
It was noted that the officer’s forced resignation did not involve Ray’s incident, but rather different incidents. One of the other factors was that the officer forced to resign was not the officer that initiated the stop on Ray’s vehicle and he was not the one that found the drugs on Ray.
Had the officer been the one to initiate the stop on Ray’s vehicle or had he been the one to find the drugs, the outcome would have been different.
This is why it’s important to have someone investigate the officer involved in your case.
We conduct a complete National background on all the individuals in the cases we are asked to assist.