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Unlawful stop or arrest procedures may improve your defense

As a criminal defense attorney, one of the first areas I examine for my clients is the arrest context. Whether the criminal charge is a misdemeanor or a felony, our Louisiana criminal defense law firm takes a close look at all procedures used by the police in detaining and ultimately arresting a client.

In general, the police can stop an individual if they reasonably suspect that a crime is in progress. During that time, police might question an individual to determine whether their suspicion was justified. Their questions might include an individual’s name and address. Our law firm recommends that any individual in this position cooperate with the police when confronted with such questions. If the basis of a stop was improper, a court of law must make that determination.

However, there is a big difference between a stop and an arrest. There is also a limit to the types of questions that an individual is expected to answer when stopped by the police. After providing identification and address, it may be proper to ask the police if he or she is under arrest. If not, an individual should have the right to leave. Said another way, the police generally have a right to make an arrest only if they have probable cause or a warrant.

Given these requirements, the use of software and archived crime data to make predictions of future criminal activity may raise questions. Specifically, a recent article describes one police department’s use of software to deploy officers to neighborhoods with the highest risk of criminal activity, as a crime prevention measure. Since the software identifies neighborhoods, rather than individuals, there appears to be no violation of procedural due process. However, the application of this technique requires further analysis.

Source: The Washington Post, “Police are using software to predict crime. Is it a ‘holy grail’ or biased against minorities?” Justin Jouvenal, Nov. 17, 2016

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