Benchmark Statement Essay Sample

Benchmark Statement Pages
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1. Yes, the search of the vehicle was lawful. The officer smelled marijuana while Ross rolled down the window, during a routine traffic stop, giving the officer probable cause to search the vehicle. The probable cause was based on the officers’ personal observation. “Police officers may use their personal training, experience, and expertise to infer probable cause from situations that may not be obviously criminal.” (Gaines 160) The officer then found a pound of marijuana giving probable cause for arrest. 2. The statement about the drugs at Ross’ residence is admissible in court. The officer did not need to give Ross his Miranda warnings. “Miranda warnings are only required before custodial interrogation takes place.” (Gaines 176) Ross’ statement about the drugs was said prior to being taken into custody.

3. Yes, Ross and Rachel’s arrest was lawful because the officer smelled marijuana when he approached the vehicle. The officer then had enough probable cause to search the vehicle, which led to the discovery of a pound of marijuana. The illegal drugs led to the arrest of Ross and Rachel. “the court has established that the fourth amendment does not require police to obtain a warrant to search automobiles or other movable vehicles when they have probable cause to believe that a vehicle contains contraband or evidence in criminal activity” (Gaines 174) The vehicle was registered to both Ross and Rachel, they both were also in the vehicle while the car smelled of marijuana. The officer had enough probable cause to believe Ross and Rachel were transporting illegal drugs, based on the amount of marijuana found in the vehicle making the arrest lawful. The arrest is considered a warrantless arrest which requires an officer to observe a crime being committed or has reliable knowledge that a crime has been or will be committed.

4. Yes the search of Ross and Rachel’s house is reasonable. The officer asked Ross if he would consent to a search of the house and Ross agreed. A warrantless search can only take place and be lawful if an individual voluntarily gives permission to officers. Ross gave consent without being threatened by officers making the search reasonable. According to Gaines, warrantless searches can take place then people allow officers to search themselves or their belongings without being physically threatened or coerced. (Gaines 173)

5. No, the search of Phoebe was not lawful because Phoebe was not a suspect in the crime committed by Ross and Rachel. When officers arrived to the house and found Phoebe she should have only been frisked for weapons that may cause harm to officers. If the officers’ pat searched Phoebe and did not feel weapons in her pocket, there is no probable cause to retrieve any items from her pocket. “Terry v. Ohio 1968 gave the ruling that a pat down of a person’s outer clothing is all that is acceptable in a stop.” (Gaines 162) The search is to protect the officers from weapons not a fishing expedition for contraband. The officers did not have cause to search Phoebe, searches should not be used as a way to try and find illegal items with the exception of weapons.

6. Yes, the search of the living room was lawful. Ross gave officers permission to search his home without specifying which areas they could search. “Schneckcloth v. Bustamonte (1973) set the standard for warrantless searches with consent.” (Gaines 173) 7. Yes, Phoebe’s statement of the gun not being hers is admissible because she was not questioned by officers’ about the gun. Phoebe gave the officers information in what is called a “spontaneous utterance” willing giving the information to officers’ not violating her Fifth Amendment rights to self-incrimination. Gaines states that “the fruit of the poisoned tree does not ban the admission of physical evidence that is discovered based on voluntary statements.” (Gaines 179)

8. No, Phoebe’s arrest wasn’t lawful because the search of her person was unreasonable. Phoebe was never a suspect and there was no probable cause to search her. Since the search of her person was unlawful the incriminating evidence found on her becomes Fruit of the Poisonous Tree and her arrest is unlawful. “Fruit of the poisoned tree is any physical or verbal evidence police gather illegally, making any evidence thereafter inadmissible in a court of law.” (Gaines 161) Phoebe is also being charged for the stolen handgun found in Ross and Rachel’s house, there is no evidence stating Phoebe ever had possession of the gun.

9. The inventory search of Phoebe which uncovered the heroin was lawful because it was a search incidental to arrest. Gaines has stated that “these searches are valid for two reasons, need for a police officer to find and confiscate weapons a suspect may be carrying. As well as the need to protect any evidence on the suspect’s person from being destroyed.” (Gaines 173) Even though Phoebe’s arrest was unlawful and ultimately the heroin would be found inadmissible due to fruit of the poisoned tree, the officer conducting the search would be protected under the “good faith” exception. The searching officer did not know that Phoebe’s arrest was unlawful and was only acting in good faith to search her person to book her into jail. 10. No, Phoebe’s response to the dope being hers is not admissible in court because Miranda was required. “Miranda is required when interrogating a suspect from whom police want to get information concerning a crime.” (Gaines 178) Phoebe may have not known that she has the right to not incriminate herself by remaining silent. The dope would also be in admissible due to the exclusionary rule. “The exclusionary rule states any evidence obtained by an unreasonable search or seizure is inadmissible against a defendant in a criminal trial.” (Gaines 161)

11. Yes, the marijuana in Ross’ residence is admissible in court. The officers got consent from Ross to search the house. The marijuana was found in what appears to be Ross’ bedroom. 12. Yes, the seizure of the papers in Ross’s name was lawful. The officers asked Ross for consent to search the house. The papers could be used in court as evidence that Ross and Rachel reside in the bedroom that he marijuana was found. 13. The bail amount for Ross, Rachel and Phoebe is unreasonable. It is unreasonable because according to the Eighth Amendment excessive bail shall not be required meaning that except in death penalty cases, the amount of bail should be compared to the crime. (Gaines 215) 14. Yes, there is a problem with the trial date. The Sixth Amendment requires a speedy trial. (Gaines 226) Each state has its town guidelines for what is considered a speedy trail whether it’s a few days to a year.

15. Ross and Rachel are stopped by a patrol officer. The officer smells marijuana giving him probable cause to arrest them both. He then searches the car, finding marijuana. After gaining permission from Ross he sends a few officers to search Ross and Rachel’s house finding Phoebe, a gun, and drug paraphernalia. All three are booked into the county jail, being confiscated of all belongings and giving new clothes to await trail. They first go to an initial appearance, which they are informed of what charges they are facing and their right are explained to them. If they are being charged with a misdemeanor they can plead guilty and be sentenced at this stage but due to the amount of marijuana and the loaded gun they cannot be sentenced just yet. They have the option to post bail at this point. After the prosecution has decided what the formal charges are going to be and whether or not they will proceed to prosecute a preliminary hearing is given.

The defendants, Ross, Rachel, and Phoebe, can now have their attorneys present to hear all the information and cross examine witnesses and evidence. The defendants can now plead guilty or not guilty. In this case phoebe pleads guilty to the drugs and not guilty to the gun. Ross and Rachel both plead guilty to transporting marijuana. Both Ross and Rachel are then sentences to 2 years in state prison and 3 years of state parole. Phoebe will proceed on to a trial. The jury now needs to be selected. The prosecution and the defense get to create a team of jurors to hear the case. The jurors have to be from the county they are residing in. “Each side will have a limited number of challenges to prevent certain people from serving on the jury.” (Gaines 231)

After the jury is selected the trial will begin, the prosecution and the defense both have the chance to make opening statements, where they will explain the side of the case they are defending and what evidence will be used to defend that side. Over a period of time, the jury will hear testimony from the police officers that seized the gun, get to see the gun they found, and hear the defense cross examine the officer. During the testimony the defense questions the officer finding that the officer did not have a search warrant and had no probable cause to arrest phoebe, she was not a suspect. The gun was found in Ross’ home. Since no warrant was presented all evidence coming from the house is now fruit from the poisonous tree. Phoebe is acquitted of all charges and gets released with no further punishment.

Works Cited
Gaines, Larry K., and Roger LeRoy. Miller. Criminal Justice in Action: The Core. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.

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