Supreme Court Cases May Address Illegal Searches and Confessions

 Posted on October 27,2021 in Criminal Law

connecticut defense lawyerThe United States Supreme Court receives thousands of requests each year to review cases that were decided in lower courts, including state supreme courts and federal appeals courts. While the Supreme Court only selects a limited number of cases to review, looking at the petitions that are filed with the court can provide an indication of the types of cases it may consider. Recently, several petitions have been filed that address the rights of defendants in criminal cases, and if the Supreme Court decides to hear these cases, its decisions may have significant effects on issues such as searches, surveillance, and confessions.

Potential Supreme Court Cases

  • Struve v. Iowa - This case involved a man who was pulled over after an officer observed him using a cell phone. While the man was not charged with violating the laws against texting or using an electronic device while driving, the officer observed methamphetamines in the back seat of his vehicle, and the man was arrested and convicted on drug possession charges. The man argued that he was subject to an illegal search because the officer pulled him over without the reasonable suspicion that he had violated the law, since it was not possible to tell whether he was texting while driving or using his phone for legal purposes, such as GPS navigation. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the officer used common sense when pulling the man over and that the traffic stop and subsequent search were legal. If the Supreme Court hears this case, its decision could affect people’s rights in situations where they are pulled over for traffic violations.

  • Tuggle v. United States - The defendant in this case argued that federal agents maintained video surveillance of his home for 18 months without a warrant, violating his Fourth Amendment protections against illegal searches. A federal appeals court ruled that this surveillance did not constitute a search, since it involved observing activities that would be seen by ordinary people that passed by the home. If the Supreme Court addresses this case, it could make decisions that affect whether search warrants will be required for long-term surveillance.

  • Vega v. Tekoh - In this case, a man was charged with sexual assault, and a confession that he gave was admitted into evidence during his case. However, his confession was given during questioning that occurred when he was not advised of his Miranda rights (the right to remain silent and the right to be represented by an attorney). The court allowed the confession to be admitted based on the fact that the defendant was not in custody at the time of questioning. While the defendant was found not guilty, he pursued a civil lawsuit against the officer who questioned him. The officer is arguing that a federal appeals court incorrectly allowed this lawsuit to proceed. The Supreme Court may consider this case, and its ruling may affect the ability of criminal defendants to take legal action against law enforcement officials who have violated their rights.

Contact a Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyer

At The Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we regularly monitor the cases heard by the Supreme Court, and we ensure that our clients understand how the court’s decisions may affect them. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of people who are facing criminal charges, and we can help defendants understand how to address issues such as illegal searches or confessions. To schedule a free consultation, contact our Hartford criminal defense attorneys today by calling 860-290-8690.


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