Colin Kaepernick, Quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, is a person of interest in an April 4, 2014 police report indicating a woman lost consciousness naked in an apartment owned by Seattle Seahawk Ricardo Lockette. The alleged victim was nude and kissing Kaepernick in a bedroom at the apartment, she later woke up at a local hospital with no memory of how she got there. Three days later she went to the police.
Any time there is a combination of sex, celebrity and police, headlines are going to be made. Here in Seattle our rivalry with the 49ers makes this tidbit particularly salacious. However, here’s what is true when you read the incident report below: No evidence of criminality. Some mystery for sure. Maybe even some bad behavior: nudity, bong hits, black outs (which could mean and be caused by any number of things).
What is conspicuously missing however is specific activity which constitutes the crime of assault. The victim does not say that anything happened. Period. Perhaps more news will come through later. Did she get the standard hospital rape test done when she woke up at the hospital? Why was she admitted to the hospital in the first place? We don’t know.
In my experience handling these types of cases, sexual assault is one of the most tragic and horrifying things that can happen to a person. Then having to explain it to the police and go through the criminal justice process can sometimes make the wound even deeper. From the accused person’s point of view charges of this nature are devastating even if eventually dropped. Who can forget the blemish on Kobe’s legacy of his night in the hotel room that lead to sexual assault allegations?
This police report, without more, shows a case that would never be filed. Sometimes the damage is done with the first allegation. Reasonable minds can disagree but Kaepernick, Kobe, unlikeable me-first athletes, but not criminals.
Read the actual police incident report here:
Kaepernick Incident Report
Recently after two one hour court hearings, a three judge panel sentenced 529 Egyptians to the Death Penalty. At least 400 of the defendants were not even present for their “trial” and were sentenced in absentia. The crime? The death of a single police officer during a riot against the government last August. This mass conviction and future execution is the harshest mass conviction in modern Egyptian history. It disregards legal procedures and defies plausibility. The most frightening aspect is that anyone, including the judges themselves, can abide such an atrocity of government sanctioned mass murder.
Could it happen in the United States?
Remember the Seattle May Day protests? Young people and others created mayhem on the streets of downtown Seattle ostensibly in protest over delayed immigration reform and unfairness perpetuated by “Big Business.” 17 were arrested. If an officer died quelling the protest (fortunately this did not happen) should all 17 be given the Death Penalty? Should they die after only two one hour hearings? Should they have a right to be present in court to confront their accusers?
The US criminal justice system with all its warts is still the gold standard of the modern world. At times like these we can be inspired to keep an ever watchful eye out for overreaching power and remember that guilt and innocence are a slippery slope and criminal defense lawyers are the mountain climbers.
Marshawn Lynch resolved his DUI in a California court, a charge stemming from an arrest in July of 2012. His blood alcohol was right at the legal cut-off, .08, but the truth is he still could have been charged with a DUI even if his BAC were lower.
Marshawn pled to reckless driving, a pretty favorable outcome, and one that we routinely secure for our clients charged with DUI.
There was a lot of speculation that this case would go to trial, and it appeared as if Lynch’s attorney wanted to go that route. As recently as December the general consensus was that this case would be taken in front of a jury. However, one has to wonder whether or not Marshawn’s high-profile came into play here, not wanting to subject himself to the scrutiny that a public trial often brings to star athletes. And the NFL, quick to dole out fines and suspensions for any criminal violation, presumably preferred Marshawn to get this over as quickly as possible, and out of the spotlight.
Hopefully taking this course can persuade the NFL to avoid levying any further punishment to Lynch, a guy who has seen his fair share of trouble in the past. The NFL did not take any action after the original arrest, and considering Lynch’s past, it was somewhat of a surprise.
The NFL currently has its hands full with another star running back, Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, caught on videotape knocking his fiancee unconscious in an Atlantic City casino. Lynch took care of his case at a time when that video was being played on TV screens across the country, and written about on every major sports site on the internet.
A quick plea takes the spotlight off of Lynch completely, and hopefully this leads to the Seahawks trotting out their full complement of starters in September when they make their Superbowl Championship defense.
More from ESPN.com
The legal system is complex and people often find that it can be a labyrinth of twists and turns.
This is absolutely true of Washington State and Seattle law.
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Although people in the United States are entitled to privacy and freedom from government intrusion, there is a limit to that privacy. State or federal police officers are allowed, where justified, to search your premises, car, or other property in order to look for and take illegal items, stolen goods or evidence of a crime. What rules must the police follow when engaging in these searches and seizures? What can they do in upholding the laws, and what can’t they do?
What the Police MAY Do:
- Under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, police may engage in “reasonable” searches and seizures.
- To prove that a search is “reasonable,” the police must generally show that it is more likely than not that a crime has occurred, and that if a search is conducted it is probable that they will find either stolen goods or evidence of the crime. This is called probable cause.
- In some situations, the police must first make this showing to a judge who issues a search warrant. In many special circumstances, however, the police may be able to conduct a search without a warrant. In fact, the majority of searches are “warrantless.” Examples are discussed below.
- Police may search and seize items or evidence when there is no “legitimate expectation of privacy.” In other words, if you did not have a privacy interest in the items or evidence, the police can take them and, in effect, no “search” has occurred.Note: In deciding whether there was a “legitimate expectation of privacy,” a court will consider two things:
- Did you have an expectation of some degree of privacy?
- Was that expectation reasonable in our society’s view?
Example: You have a semi-automatic rifle that you stole from a pawnshop. You leave the rifle laying on the hood of your car when you get home. You do not have a “legitimate expectation of privacy” with regard to things you leave on the hood of your car, and the police may take the rifle. No search has occurred.
- Police may use first-hand information, or tips from an informant to justify the need to search your property. If an informant’s information is used, the police must prove that the information is reliable under the circumstances.
- Once a warrant is obtained, the police may enter onto the specified area of the property and search for the items listed on the warrant.
- Police may extend the search beyond the specified area of the property or include other items in the search beyond those specified or listed in the warrant if it is necessary to:
- Ensure their safety or the safety of others;
- Prevent the destruction of evidence;
- Discover more about possible evidence or stolen items that are in plain view; or
- Hunt for evidence or stolen items that, based upon their initial search of the specified area, they believe may be in a different location on the property.
Example: The police have a warrant to search your basement for evidence of a drug manufacturing operation. On their way through your house to go down to the basement, they see a cache of guns sitting on the kitchen table. They may take the guns in order to ensure their safety while searching your basement.
Permissible Searches Without a Warrant
- Police may search your property without a warrant if you consent to the search. Consent must be freely and voluntarily given, and you cannot be coerced or tricked into giving it.
- Police may search your person and the immediate surroundings without a warrant when they are placing you under arrest.
- If a person is arrested in a residence, police may make a “protective sweep” of the residence in order to make a “cursory visual inspection” of places where an accomplice may be hiding. In order to do so, the police must have a reasonable belief that an accomplice may be around.Example: The police arrest you in your living room on charges of murder. They may open the door of your coat closet to make sure that no one else is hiding there, but may not open your medicine cabinet because an accomplice could not hide there.
- When you are being taken to jail, police may perform an “inventory search” of items you have with you without a warrant. This search may include your car if it is being held by the police in order to make a list of all items inside.
- Police may search without a warrant if they reasonably fear for their safety or for the public’s safety.Example: If the police drive past your house on a regular patrol of the neighborhood and see you, in your open garage, with ten cases of dynamite and a blowtorch, they may search your garage without a warrant.
- If it’s necessary to prevent the imminent destruction of evidence, the police may search without a warrant.Example: If the police see you trying to burn a stack of money that you stole from a bank, they may perform a search without a warrant to prevent you from further destroying the money.
- Police may perform a search, without a warrant, if they are in “hot pursuit” of a suspect who enters a private dwelling or area after fleeing the scene of a crime.Example: If the police are chasing you from the scene of a murder, and you run into your apartment in an attempt to get away from them, they may follow you into the apartment and search the area without a warrant.
- Police may perform a pat-down of your outer clothing, in what is called a “stop and frisk” situation, as long as they reasonably believe that you may be concealing a weapon and they fear for their safety.
What the Police MAY NOT Do:
- The police may not perform a warrantless search anywhere you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, unless one of the warrant exceptions applies.
- If evidence was obtained through an unreasonable or illegal search, the police may not use it against you in a trial. This is called the “exclusionary rule.”
- The police may not use evidence resulting from an illegal search to find other evidence.
- The police may not submit an affidavit in support of obtaining a search warrant if they did not have a reasonable belief in the truth of the statements in the affidavit.
- Unless there is a reasonable suspicion that it contains evidence, illegal items, or stolen goods, the police may not search your vehicle. If your car has been confiscated by the police, however, they may search it.
- Unless they have a reasonable suspicion that you are involved in a criminal activity, the police may not “stop and frisk” you. If they have a reasonable suspicion, they may pat down your outer clothing if they are concerned that you might be concealing a weapon.
When someone is arrested by the police, a specific series of events follows. The police must follow legal procedures during the actual arrest process, and at many other stages along the way to actually placing a suspect in jail.
- An arrest occurs when police take you into custody and is complete the moment you, as the suspect, are no longer free to walk away from the arresting officer.
- In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miranda v. Arizona, that individuals who are under arrest for suspicion of having committed a crime have certain rights that must be explained to them before any questioning may occur. The rights are designed to protect your right to be free from self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. There are five different rights, known as the “Miranda Rights”:
- You have the right to remain silent and to refuse to answer questions.
- Anything you do say may be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning if you wish.
- If you decide to answer questions now without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.Note: Miranda rights must only be read when an individual is in police custody and is under interrogation. Therefore, if the police stop you to give you a traffic ticket, and you start explaining to them why you were speeding, you cannot later protest that you were not read your Miranda rights. While the police may have been “interrogating” you in a certain sense, you were not in police custody unless your freedom of action was curtailed to a degree associated with formal arrest; see your state laws for a definition of police conduct that would be associated with formal arrest.
- If you are stopped by the police, they may frisk you by performing a “pat-down” of your outer clothing in order to determine if you are concealing a weapon. Later, after your arrest, they may perform a full-blown search of your person and immediate surroundings to ensure that you do not have any weapons, stolen items, contraband, or evidence of a crime. If the police take possession of your car, it may be searched as well.
- In many jurisdictions, you have the right to make a telephone call, or calls, once you are placed into custody. In some states, you are only allowed to call someone in order to secure a lawyer or to arrange for bail, although you may be able to call a family member or friend to help you make those arrangements. Generally, you are not entitled to make a telephone call until after you have been booked.
- The police may take any personal property or money that you have with you and put it in a safe place after performing an inventory. The police will ask you to sign the inventory and, after reviewing it, you should do so if you agree with the contents of the inventory.
- Once you are arrested, you will be booked. During the booking procedure the police will ask you for basic information about yourself (such as your address and birth date), and fingerprint and photograph you. You may also be asked to participate in a line-up, give a handwriting sample or do similar things.
- If you are detained but not booked within a reasonable period of time (usually several hours, or overnight) your attorney may go to a judge and obtain a writ of habeas corpus. A writ of habeas corpus is an order issued by the court instructing the police to bring you before the court so that a judge may decide if you are being lawfully held.
- Once you are arrested by the police, the information will be provided to the appropriate prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor will then review the information before making an independent decision as to what charges should be filed.Note: If you have been arrested for a felony, a prosecutor may enlist the services of a grand jury to review the available information in order to determine what crimes you should actually be charged with.
- If you are placed in custody, you have the right to promptly appear in court to hear the charges filed against you and enter a plea. This usually means that the prosecutor must decide within seventy-two hours which charges, if any, will be filed. A prosecutor is not bound by the initial charge decision, but may later change the crimes with which you will be charged once more evidence is obtained.Note: The required time in which a prosecutor must make a charge decision varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. While many state laws require the decision to be made within seventy-two hours, other states, such as California, require that the decision be made within forty-eight hours after you are taken into custody.
- You will have an appearance in court called an arraignment at which point the charges against you will be read and you will be asked whether you plead guilty or not guilty.Note: A third possible type of response to an indictment is that of “nolo contendere” or “no contest.” Nolo contendere is not strictly a plea, but means that you do not contest the charges made by the government. The plea of nolo contendere cannot be used in other aspects of the criminal trial as an admission of guilt, but can be used only in this phase as an implied confession of the specific offense charged and an admission of the facts stated in the indictment. A plea of nolo contendere is only accepted by a judge if they feel that it is being made voluntarily and intelligently.
- If you are placed in jail, you may be able to get out prior to your trial if you “post bail.” Bail is money you pay to the court in order to ensure that you will appear in court when told to do so. If you do appear as required, the bail will be refunded to you once the case against you is concluded. If you do not show up, the court keeps the money and can issue a warrant for your arrest.
- Bail may be paid in cash or in a cash equivalent. You may also be allowed, depending upon the circumstances, to post a bond. A bond is a guarantee of payment of the full bail amount should the need arise. In other situations, you may be allowed to be “released on one’s own recognizance.” This means that the payment of bail is waived on condition that you appear in court when required. This is generally only used in crimes that are minor in nature or where the judge is of the opinion that you are a trustworthy individual who is unlikely to flee the jurisdiction.
- Not every arrested individual is entitled to bail. In particularly heinous crimes, or where there is a risk that the defendant will flee the jurisdiction or harm members of the public, bail may be denied and the defendant will be kept in jail as a “pre-trial detainee.” You may also be considered a “pre-trial detainee” if you are unable to post bail for your release.
- The judge is responsible for setting your bail. In many jurisdictions, there is a pre-set schedule listing the bail amounts for particular crimes. In other situations, bail may be determined on a case-by-case basis. The Eighth Amendment to the U.S Constitution requires that bail not be excessive.