Electronic monitoring and the search and seizure of electronic data, such as cell phones and computers, have become a hot topic in recent years. The laws surrounding when - and how - electronic data can be monitored, searched and seized is so complex, the federal government has put forth a guide explaining the process that police and federal agents must follow for a search and seizure to be legal.
Drug charges arise from a variety of circumstances, but often people find themselves charged with a drug offense after what started out as a routine traffic stop. Let's be clear, though: a police officer does not automatically have a right to search your vehicle when you've been pulled over for an alleged traffic violation.
In the United States, we have the right to privacy. The Fourth Amendment protects us against unwarranted invasions of privacy, or against unlawful search and seizure. This right extends to electronic devices, including computers and cell phones.
If you look hard enough, you'll find that many criminal charges are based on evidence obtained in illegal searches and seizures. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable search and seizure, and this right to freedom from illegal search and seizure is a foundational right in America.
Traffic cops really hope you'll talk to them when you're pulled over. It's not that they're lonely; they're hoping you'll divulge something incriminating. It's a routine tactic among traffic cops to drag out traffic stops in an effort to pressure you into confessing something.
Around midnight one lovely evening a couple of years ago, a man was pulled over for driving on the highway's shoulder, which is a traffic violation in the state where this took place. The officer went through all the usual business officers do when they pull someone over for a ticket -- assessing him for signs of drunkenness, keeping an eye out for weapons, and checking his driver's license and that of his passenger for any outstanding warrants. Everything checked out fine, so the officer issued the man a written warning.
This week, six former officers from the Philadelphia Police Department's undercover drug unit are being tried on a 26-count federal racketeering indictment. The star witness is former unit member Jeffrey Walker, who pled guilty in 2013 and is now testifying for the prosecution. Walker's plea led to as many as 160 drug convictions being overturned. In addition, numerous civil rights lawsuits have been filed by people mistreated by the drug unit.
On Wednesday, the Associated Press issued a blockbuster report on the use of high-tech surveillance techniques by local police departments -- Baltimore in particular -- and the degree to which the FBI is willing to sacrifice our constitutional rights in order to keep that surveillance secret.
Resulting from a drug sting in Schuylkill County, a total of 76 individuals were arrested on various charges. These individuals face drug charges for their alleged involvement in the distribution of narcotics throughout the area. The Pennsylvania authorities also suspect that many of the individuals are affiliated with gangs.
Two individuals have been arrested following an investigation that started in September. The two Pennsylvania men face a number of drug charges, including possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Reportedly, members of the community made a series of complaints related to drug trafficking in the area.