Category Archives: Search and Seizure

Three Ways Police Can Legally Obtain Your DNA Without Your Consent

If you find yourself in a situation where a police officer asks you for your DNA, you have the legal right to say “no.”  However, there are a few ways police can legally obtain your DNA without your consent.

  • Collecting it off of anything you throw away or leave behind

If you have read my previous blog, CSI- IT’S ONLY A TV SHOW, you know that not everything you see on CSI shows is true.  However, you know that typical scene on the shows where the cops are interviewing the suspect and the guy drinks out of the styrofoam cup (that the cops gave him) and then throws it away and they pull a “gotcha” moment?  Yeah, they can definitely do that.

  • Conviction of a Crime Where Law Requires DNA Test

Depending on what state you live in, and what crime you have been convicted of, you may be required to take a DNA test and have your results submitted to CODIS .  These crimes can range from certain misdemeanors all the way up to violent felonies. To find out what Michigan’s qualifying offenses are, click here

  • Search Warrant

Last but not least, their is the notorious search warrant.  This is the most common method used and the method people are most familiar with. Once police have a warrant you must comply with there DNA request

If you have a question about DNA or forensic evidence used in your case contact Ambrose Law Group at (248) 624-5500

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Filed under DNA Testing, Search and Seizure

Our Voice: Legalized Racial Profiling in the U.S.?

“They come to our country and refuse to learn our language.”

“They work for less money than we can afford to because they’re used to a lower standard of living.”

“They raise the costs for the rest of us in so many areas, and then just send they money they make back to their home country.”

Are the above quotes about today’s problems with illegal Mexican immigrants?

Or do they reference Benjamin Franklin’s fears of German immigrants back in 1751, when he said:

“Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them… ?”

As Franklin’s quote and the many other letters he wrote about the German immigrant problem show, the idea of the United States losing its identity to “outsiders” of one race or another is not a new one.  While most of us are proud that our country is a “melting pot,” some also fear that one ingredient might become too strong and ruin the rest of the soup.

Benjamin Franklin feared that the overwhelming ingredient would be German.  That fear didn’t come true.  Today, new legislation passed in Arizona shows that the feared ingredient is Mexican.

Arizona’s new law (SB 1070) requires local and state police to stop everyone they “reasonably suspect” is an undocumented immigrant.  If the suspect fails to produce papers to prove their legal right to be in the country, the police must arrest them.

This, of course, begs the question:  What does an undocumented immigrant look like?

When asked, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer could only say “I don’t know what an undocumented person looks like.”

More importantly, what factors need to be present for a police officer to have “reasonable suspicion” that a person is an undocumented immigrant?  Now, to be fair, the bill does state that the police “may not solely consider race, color, or national origin in implementing the requirements of this subsection except to the extent permitted by the United States or Arizona Constitution.”  Without this language, the law would never pass the review of the Supreme Court.  With it, the law probably will.

The key word there, though, is “solely.”  If a police officer stops someone of Mexican descent, Courts will throw out the arrest if the officer admits that he did it only because the person looked Mexican.  Is a policeman really going to say “Oh yeah, I stopped that guy because he looked Mexican.”  Isn’t it more likely he’d have a whole laundry list of other factors that he can claim he considered?  All they need to do is come up with one, and the decision to stop the person wasn’t “solely” based on national origin.

  • “He was driving a van without windows in the back, and those are often used to transport illegal immigrants.”
  • “He was on the corner outside Home Depot, and illegal immigrants often wait there to be picked up for home improvement projects.”
  • “He was buying a Spanish-language newspaper, and illegal immigrants are less likely to be able to speak the English language.”

Which of the above would be enough?  Who knows?  The law definitely doesn’t tell us, but experience says that Courts will give the police a free pass on every one.

What’s worse is that a person who is stopped has to show papers to prove their citizenship.  Anyone who has filled out employment paperwork knows that a drivers’ license alone is not proof of citizenship.  But how many of us walk around with our passports or birth certificates?  If you look like an undocumented immigrant and want to visit Arizona, now is your chance to potentially become national news.

At the end of the day, it’s clear exactly what this legislation is about.  If you’re tall, blond-haired, and blue-eyed, it’s pretty unlikely the Arizona State Police are going to stop you on suspicion of being an undocumented Swedish immigrant, even if you’re speaking Swedish right in front of them.  This is legislation born of fear: the same fear that consumed Benjamin Franklin when he warned of the impending German takeover of our culture.  It’s the same fear that led to the holding of U.S. Citizens of Japanese descent in concentration camps during WWII.  As foretold by Franklin D. Roosevelt:

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

When we let fear write our laws, we erode the fabric of what this great country is all about, whether it’s fear of losing our national identity or fear of terrorist acts.  When we use this fear to justify stripping U.S. citizens of their right to walk the streets without having to show their passport to every cop who asks to see it, we betray everything that America has fought so hard to be.

You see, it’s not the rights of the undocumented immigrant that are at stake here.  It’s the rights of the legal immigrant who still has an accent and other features he can’t change that are at issue.  This law legalizes his harassment by the police, who are now required to stop and question him to determine his legality.  Is that how we welcome our immigrants into the melting pot these days?  By turning up the heat?

bill@ambroselawgroup.com

I’d love to hear what you think.  Please feel free to comment and respond below, whether or not you agree with what I’ve written.

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Filed under Immigration Law, Our Voice - Op/Ed, Search and Seizure

Facebook Friend? Or F.B.I Foe?

Ambrose Law Group is a firm believer in NEVER talking to the police. We repeat NEVER TALK TO THE POLICE!  Other than your name and identifying information you have the right to remain silent.  Even if you know your innocent it’s best to inform the officer you are choosing to remain silent and request to see your lawyer.  There are a few reasons we urge you to do this.  First, you cannot talk yourself out of being arrested. Nothing you say will  make a difference or help you in anyway, even if you are innocent.  The police have the right to use anything you say AGAINST you in a court of law.  But nothing you say can be used to HELP you.  That would be considered hearsay and inadmissible.  Even if you are innocent it’s easy to make a mistake in your story, forget facts or accidentally lie.  There are many innocent people who are sitting in jail because they chose to speak with the police.  If you are guilty there’s no need to rush into confessing. There will be plenty of time for that later. If you confess you might ruin your chances of working out a good plea deal, having your case dismissed or even having a good defense at trial.

With all of that being said there was a very interesting article in the Free Press yesterday and there’s a chance you might be talking to the police without even realizing it! U.S. Law Enforcement has discovered the world of Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Linked In and more, and they’re using these social networking sites to incriminate you. The FBI has been using fake profiles to go undercover and communicate with suspects as well as gather info to use in court.  They’re using the sites to check alibi’s, find incriminating photos and locate missing suspects.  Read the full story here .

I read the article and then thought about all the social-networking sites I use. Upon a bit of self-reflection I realized good grief there’s a lot of info about me out there! And I’m always accepting people left and right on my facebook and twitter!  Maybe I need to be a little more cautious with some of this internet stuff?! Your thoughts?

So anyways, make sure you know the  friend requests your accepting. Everything you type, tweet, and post could be used against you in a court of law!

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Filed under 5th Amendment Rights, Privacy Laws, Search and Seizure, Social Media And The Law

Search and Seizure

It’s happened to most of us. You’re driving along minding your own business and out of nowhere a cop with flashing lights is pulling you over. Maybe you had forgotten to put your seatbelt on or maybe you were speeding. No matter what the reason everyone’s stomach usually drops at the idea of a pricey ticket and a conversation with a police officer. If you’re lucky the traffic stop goes smoothly, if you’re unlucky a minor traffic violation can turn into much more. The officer will likely ask you if you have anything illegal in your car such as drugs, a firearm or alcohol. For must of us we can honestly say no to this question but that isn’t always the case. If you are stopped and you know you have something illegal in your car your best bet is to politely refuse to talk without a lawyer present. Other then your name and identifying information you have the right to remain silent. Be careful if the officer asks to search your car. You should never consent to any search but if you say no, the officer can document your refusal in his/her report or worse say you did consent even when you didn’t. The judge will most likely believe whatever the officer writes down. Instead you should politely say, “I have been advised by my lawyer never to allow a search of myself, home or car without a warrant”. Don’t be afraid to stand up for your rights. Even if you have nothing to hide you can never be sure what other people may have left in your car. If the officer threatens to get drug sniffing drugs, let him! Usually he will be bluffing and he can only detain you as long as it takes to write you a ticket, which is about ten minutes. You have nothing to gain by being cooperative. If you are the victim of an illegal search, you may be able to have the evidence suppressed.

We want to hear your stories! Have you had a bad experience during a traffic stop? Have you ever been searched illegally?

Ambrose Law Group

248-624-5500

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Filed under Drugs, Search and Seizure

Question of the Day

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